How Ted Cruz Helped The Rehnquist Supreme Court Tear Down Church-State Separation
In 1999, Bush for President campaign aide Ted Cruz helped lock down the Christian conservative vote for Bush, by arranging a meeting between his friend Paul Weyrich, a key architect of the religious right and new right -- who co-founded the Moral Majority, the Heritage Foundation, and ALEC -- and Bush campaign member Timothy Goeglein, who went on to serve in the presidential administration of George W. Bush. Soon after, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist presided over the wildly controversial Bush v. Gore Supreme Court decision, which effectively shut down the 2000 election vote recount in Florida, thus handing the presidency to Bush. Serving on the elite Republican legal team during the legal battles leading up to the Rehnquist Court decision was Ted Cruz, a former legal aide to Justice Rehnquist, who moved on to become Texas Solicitor General. From that position, Cruz helped corrupt - with help from Rehnquist - legal precedent, furthering Christian nationalist narratives concerning the U.S. government's allegedly Christian origin. Serving on the elite Republican legal team during the legal battles leading up to the Rehnquist Court decision was Ted Cruz, who moved on to become Texas Solicitor General. From that position, Cruz helped corrupt - with help from Rehnquist - legal precedent, furthering Christian nationalist narratives concerning the U.S. government's allegedly Christian origin. In his June 27, 2005 opinion on the Van Orden v. Perry case, which had been kicked upstairs to the nation's highest court with help from his former legal aide Ted Cruz, Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote,
"In this case we are faced with a display of the Ten Commandments on government property outside the Texas State Capitol. Such acknowledgments of the role played by the Ten Commandments in our Nation's heritage are common throughout America. We need only look within our own Courtroom. Since 1935, Moses has stood, holding two tablets that reveal portions of the Ten Commandments written in Hebrew, among other lawgivers in the south frieze. "If Rehnquist had been telling the truth, it would have meant that Moses - coming down from Mount Sinai - had carried stone tablets, from God, that instructed the Israelites to steal, commit adultery, and kill. One of the core foundations of the American legal system is the principle, derived from English Common Law, of Stare Decisis: the principle of established legal precedent. Factual accuracy is at the heart of the principle. Without scrupulous attention to factual accuracy, Stare Decisis - and thus the American legal system - can be corrupted. As Texas Solicitor General, Ted Cruz helped do just that. From the late 1950’s to the early 1960’s hundreds of stone monuments bearing the Christian Protestant version of the Ten Commandments were installed on government property across America - donated by a liberal Christian nationalist organization, The Fraternal Order of Eagles. Decades later, these monuments helped provoke church-state separation legal cases that came before the United States Supreme Court in 2005 and again in 2008, in the Van Orden v. Perry and Summum v. Pleasant Grove City cases. In the 2005 Van Orden v. Perry case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the display of one of those Ten Commandments monuments, at the Texas State Capital in Austin, was constitutional. One of the architects of the case, arguing in favor of the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments display, was Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, now a United States Senator credited with playing a leading role in the current shutdown of the U.S. federal government. Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz was one of eight co-authors of the Writ Of Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court, which court kicked the case up to the Supreme Court for a decision. In that legal brief, Cruz and his co-authors declared,
"THE “HISTORY AND UBIQUITY” OF THE TEXAS TEN COMMANDMENTS MONUMENT, AND OF TEN COMMANDMENTS MONUMENTS ACROSS THE NATION, ALSO DEMONSTRATE THAT THE TEXAS MONUMENT DOES NOT VIOLATE THE ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE."As evidence as that claim, Ted Cruz' brief to the United States Supreme Court referred back to the Supreme Court's 1984 Lynch v. Donnelly decision. Cruz' brief argued,
"Similarly, in Lynch, the Court noted that “[o]ur history is replete with official references to the value and invocation of Divine guidance,” including official Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, House and Senate chaplains, the national motto “In God We Trust,” the Pledge of Allegiance, religious paintings in the National Gallery, Moses holding the Ten Commandments on the frieze of this Court, and regular presidential proclamations for a National Day of Prayer."Most of Cruz' cited litany from Lynch was spurious, such as the mention of "religious paintings in the National Gallery", or of relatively recent origin; the motto "In God We Trust" only become the national motto in 1956 and appeared on U.S. currency in 1957, and the Pledge of Allegiance, written in 1892 by socialist Francis Bellamy, was adopted by Congress in 1942. The National Day of Prayer dates back to 1952. But, unlike those real institutions of civic piety, the "Moses holding the Ten Commandments on the frieze of this Court" does not even exist, at least in the form in which it has become enshrined in United States Supreme Court case law thanks to, in considerable measure, Ted Cruz. As court reporter Tony Mauro wrote, for the Legal Times, in early March 2005,
"Numerous briefs in the case refer to it, usually to make the point that the challenged Ten Commandment displays cannot possibly be unconstitutional if the Court itself has tolerated one in its own chamber since the building opened 70 years ago. The tablets, according to Liberty Counsel lawyer Matthew Staver, who will argue today, represent "the only written words inside this chamber." "But what do those words literally say in Hebrew ? - They command, "THOU SHALT COMMIT MURDER, THOU SHALT COMMIT ADULTERY, THOU SHALT STEAL". As if it had been written by Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey, that is the literal translation of the Hebrew letters up on the Supreme Court chamber - which, thanks to Ted Cruz and other Christian nationalists, has become established, enshrined legal precedent for religious displays on public property across the land. Tony Mauro's story also noted the efforts an an American-Israeli citizen, Avrahaum Segol, to bring attention to the literal translation of the text on those tablets:
"Some have even asked why Moses' beard obscures enough of the Hebrew that instead of reading "Though Shalt Not Steal," it says "Steal," and similarly appears to command viewers to kill and commit adultery, to boot. An Israeli sculptor named Avrahaum Segol has bombarded the Court and the media with letters questioning [sculptor Adolf] Weinman's motivations. Earlier this year a Court official wrote Segol that "It is clear that the sculptor intended for the tablet to represent the entire text of the Ten Commandments." "But as a simple point of fact, the beard of Weinman's carved Moses image does not "obscure" any Hebrew. Mauro's statement indicates that the allegedly "obscured" Hebrew actually exists. It does not. All that exists, in Hebrew, are the commandments to steal, commit adultery, and kill. Mauro did not explain why his interpretation was self evident, nor did he mention that the Moses figure had horns. For Jews, depictions of Moses with horns can carry unpleasant symbolic meaning. On May 1, 1996 the Anti-Defamation League, in a press release on its successful effort to persuade a Spanish manufacturer to cease selling a 16-inch porcelain ceramic figurine of Moses with horns, provided text from a letter the ADL had sent to the Spanish company LLADRO:
"for centuries the archetypal anti-Semitic image was that of a Jew depicted as a demonic creature complete with horns. Uadro's apparent portrayal of Moses perpetuates this pernicious image."And that "archetypal anti-Semitic image" -- a horned-Moses, carrying commandments instructing the Jewish people to murder, steal, and commit adultery (a tripartite theme central to the Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew) -- was what Ted Cruz, only a few years later, would help embed in United States case law.