In an interview with Mark Levin on LevinTV Tuesday, Texas Senator (and former presidential candidate) Ted Cruz would not deny being asked by the Trump administration if he was interested in serving on the Supreme Court.
“Did they ever ask you if you are interested?” Levin asked in the video, produced by CRTV. “You know, we had conversations about a lot of things, including the court, I like being in the political arena,” Cruz replied. To this, Levin repeated, “You were asked, weren’t you?”
On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump announced that he would reveal his Supreme Court nominee next Thursday.
I will be making my Supreme Court pick on Thursday of next week.Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
Cruz, as Trump’s last (and strongest) competition in the Republican primary, might seem an odd decision, but he has a very strong legal background. He clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and served as solicitor general of Texas, arguing many cases before the Supreme Court. He was both the longest-serving solicitor general in Texas history, and the first Hispanic to take the job.
Cruz is also a stalwart conservative with excellent ideas for the Supreme Court. In his brief explanation of what he’s looking for in a justice, the senator told Levin he would prefer someone “who will follow the Constitution, who will protect free speech, protect religious liberty, protect our right to keep and bear arms.” He has been a firm advocate for an originalist reading of the Constitution, which means he doesn’t buy the “living Constitution” activism of many judicial liberals.
The Texas senator gained his name fighting Obamacare on the floor of the Senate, and led the charge against President Obama’s disastrous Iran deal. He has been a consistent leading voice on many issues, and a true believer in returning to a government limited by the Constitution.
Nevertheless, when asked about whom Trump might pick, Cruz demurred. “He said it’s going to be from his list of 21, it’s a strong list,” the Texas senator said.
“Have they contacted you, or any colleagues yet about who they might…?” Levin asked.
“I don’t know who he’s going to nominate,” Cruz explained.
Nevertheless, Levin pressed him, and Cruz finally gave an answer on whether he would like to be on the Supreme Court.
At least for now, it seems like the hopes of many conservatives will be dashed. The senator told Levin that he would not prefer to be on the Supreme Court, and would rather keep fighting for conservative ideas in the Senate.
“You and I both know, a principled judge stays out of the political fights, stays out of the policy fights,” Cruz explained. “If I was ever a judge, that’s what I’d do. I’d follow my oath, and honor the Constitution.”
“To be honest, Mark, I don’t want to stay out of the political and policy fights — I want to be right in the middle of them,” the senator continued. “And the right place to do that is the Senate. It is the elected legislature. Let’s take Israel and the UN. If you’re a federal judge, you have no business sticking your nose in that. You have to sit there and read the papers and watch it. I don’t want to sit quietly aside while Obama goes to the UN and attacks Israel.”
Cruz openly declared, “My intention is to stay in the Senate. I think the Senate is going to be the battlefield for all of these fights. And to lead the fights, and to help lead the fights, to defend freedom and to defend the Constitution.”
As conservatives read those words, many are sure to be crestfallen. But Cruz does indeed have a point — the Supreme Court only takes up cases that come before it, and a political animal like Cruz might be ill-suited for it.
Nevertheless, with any luck, Trump will be able to nominate more than just one Supreme Court justice (Cruz said “two or three strong conservatives”). The president really should select a name on his list (which includes Utah Senator Mike Lee, by the way), at least for the first justice. If Cruz ever changes his mind, another slot might be open.
As for who the nominee might be, there is considerable speculation. CBS reported that the list seems whittled down to two men: federal district court judge Thomas Hardiman and appellate judge Neil Gorsuch. Bloomberg reported that both men have met with Trump, but a source added that appellate judges William Pryor (who served as Sen. Jeff Sessions’s deputy while Sessions was Alabama attorney general) and Raymond Kethledge are also in the running.
Democrats, not surprisingly, are asking for a “mainstream” nominee. They might as well ask an eskimo for a mojito.
Cruz is likely sitting it out for now. But who knows about next time? Never say never.