'Opportunistic illiberalism': Conservative National Review slams Ted Cruz over hypocritical attack on Biden’s SCOTUS nominee

'Opportunistic illiberalism': Conservative National Review slams Ted Cruz over hypocritical attack on Biden’s SCOTUS nominee

With three conservative Republicans senators—Maine’s Susan Collins, Utah’s Mitt Romney and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski — and centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia having announced that they will vote to confirm her, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is almost certain to become the first female African-American justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Other Republicans, however, have been jumping through hoops to express their opposition to Jackson.

One of the most buffoonish is Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who told Fox News that he could never vote for Jackson’s confirmation because she was once a public defender. But conservative writer Charles C.W. Cooke, in an article published by the National Review on April 5, explains why that thinking is so wrong-headed — as well as hypocritical.

“If we are to have a legal system that allows people, institutions, and governments to defend themselves against charges of illegal conduct — and we should have that system — then we are going to have lawyers who defend their clients to the best of their ability,” Cooke argues. “It doesn’t matter whether the defendant is popular, whether the institution is sympathetic, or whether the law is a good one — none of that is the point. The point is that an adversarial legal system requires advocates who will relentlessly press their case, and, in so doing, force the other side to prove its brief to a high standard.”

Cooke continues, “There is nothing wrong with people who are willing to become solicitor generals and defend laws they dislike, or with people willing to become corporate lawyers and defend companies they disdain, or with people who are willing to become public defenders and defend clients they suspect are guilty — and to suggest otherwise betrays an unthinking and opportunistic illiberalism.”

Before he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012, Cruz, now 51, served as Texas solicitor general — a position he held from 2003-2008 during the George W. Bush years. When Cruz held that position, Cooke recalls, one of the Texas laws he defended was a prohibition of sex toys.

Cooke notes that Cruz later admitted that the law was “stupid,” but he defended it because he was doing his job as Texas solicitor general — just as Jackson did her job when she was a public defender.

Cruz, during a television appearance, explained, “I spent five-and-a-half years as the solicitor general in Texas; I worked for the attorney general. The attorney general’s job is to defend the laws passed by the Texas legislature. One of those laws was a law restricting the sale of sex toys, which is a stupid law. Consenting adults should be able to do whatever they want in their bedrooms.”

Cruz, according to Cooke, gave a “correct answer” — only now, he is hypocritically attacking Brown for doing her job just as he did his.

“For some reason,” Cooke writes, “Ted Cruz seems to believe that the very act of becoming a public defender indelibly marks a person as being intrinsically favorable toward accused criminals, but that Ted Cruz’s having chosen to be a lawyer for the government for half a decade did not indelibly mark him as a statist. Funny, that.”


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