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Sen. Ted Cruz, a staunch opponent of Joe Biden’s judicial nominees, said he plans to take a civil approach to the president’s Supreme Court pick and avoid the “personal smears” that have defined previous court fights.
The Texas senator and former presidential contender said he and other Republicans on the Judiciary Committee agreed last week that they wouldn’t engage in the kind of personal attacks that marked the battle over Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was nominated in 2018 by President Donald Trump.
“To a person, every Senate Republican agreed we don’t want to do that,” Cruz said in an interview with Bloomberg Government. “That’s not how this process should unfold.”
Cruz, however, made it clear that he could still find fault with the nominee as he accused Democrats of looking for a justice who will abolish the death penalty and curtail religious-freedom and gun-rights protections in the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution.
“I think this confirmation hearing is an important opportunity to focus on what the American people want in a justice,” Cruz said.
Cruz last week asserted on his podcast that it was “offensive” that Biden is limiting his search to Black women. Democrats see that goal as pivotal to increasing diversity on the top court, which has never had a Black woman justice.
In the interview, he reiterated that the pledge smacked of racial discrimination that’s illegal in the private sector. He faulted Democrats for blocking President George W. Bush’s nominations of Judge Janice Rogers Brown, who is Black, and Miguel Estrada, an Hispanic, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Brown later won confirmation after a two-year delay while Estrada withdrew.
“When Democrats say they want diversity, what they want is a leftist,” Cruz said. “And in fact, they particularly loathe a minority who dares not to be a leftist.”
Cruz declined to weigh in on the merits or vulnerabilities of any individual prospective nominees. They include Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who overlapped with Cruz at Harvard Law School.
Jackson won Senate confirmation to the D.C. Circuit just last year by a 53-44 vote. Cruz, like most Republicans, voted against her confirmation. The materials Republicans needed to assess her qualifications as the committee considered her were “quite limited,” he said. “That made for a difficult confirmation hearing.”
One of about a dozen senators who has yet to support any of Biden’s judicial nominees, Cruz promised “rigorous scrutiny” of the jurisprudence of a pick for the high court.
“I’m not prepared to prejudge where a nominee is coming from,” Cruz said. “But I have seen the pattern of the nominees coming from this White House, and I’m confident this White House wants a leftist who is markedly to the left of Stephen Breyer and markedly to the left of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”
‘Walk and Chew Gum’
Cruz said he wasn’t worried that another fight over a court pick would distract from Republicans’ critique of Biden’s handling of the economy and foreign affairs in the upcoming midterm elections.
“I think people can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Cruz said. “Any Supreme Court nomination is enormously consequential, and the American people care about the issues before the court.”
The increasingly partisan confirmation brawls have caused concern about the future independence of the court. Justice Sonia Sotomayor warned that the increasingly political nature of Supreme Court confirmations could further undermine the legitimacy of the third branch of government.
“It certainly does feed into the public’s uncertainty. And that has a price,” she said while speaking Wednesday during an online event sponsored by the New York University School of Law.
To contact the reporter on this story: Zach C. Cohen at email@example.com