Ted Cruz Tells Nevadans Only He Can Preserve Scalia’s Legacy

Cruz is using the Supreme Court battle to take down his two top rivals.

Richard Ellis/ZUMA


After a disappointing third-place finish in Saturday’s South Carolina Republican primary, Ted Cruz is looking to a new ally to boost his performance in the Nevada caucuses on Tuesday: the ghost of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Cruz seems to have settled on the idea that President Barack Obama won’t get a Supreme Court justice confirmed to replace Scalia. During a stump speech Monday afternoon in Las Vegas, Cruz said one of his first actions as president would be to name a “strong principled constitutionalist” as Scalia’s successor.

Cruz has begun to emphasize his legal career on the campaign trail in order to paint himself as the lone Republican candidate who can defend Scalia’s legacy. It’s a two-step dance to take down his rivals: heighten the stakes of the election to minimize Donald Trump as an unserious candidate, and push the idea that Marco Rubio isn’t conservative enough to be entrusted with picking Supreme Court nominees.

“As Ronald Reagan was to the presidency, so too was Justice Scalia to the Supreme Court,” Cruz said. “And his passing underscores the stakes of this election. It’s not one branch of government, but two that hang in the balance.”

Cruz laid out a conservative’s dystopian vision of the Supreme Court, where the law of the land would flip to a liberal interpretation should Scalia’s seat go to a Democratic appointee. “We are one liberal justice away from the Supreme Court mandating unlimited abortion on demand all across this country with no restrictions whatsoever,” Cruz said. “We are one liberal justice away from the Supreme Court reading the Second Amendment out of the Bill of Rights.” Cruz warned that a 5-4 liberal majority would also mean the dismantling of statues based on the Ten Commandments, “or the Supreme Court concluding that the United Nations and the World Court can bind our justice system…and subjecting us to international law and taking away sovereignty.”

Amid this doom and gloom, Cruz made sure to remind the crowd of Nevadans that he is a former lawyer who has argued before the Supreme Court, so he knows how the institution operates. At the same time, he repeatedly hammered the point that he wouldn’t waffle, vowing that he was the only Republican candidate the voters should trust to appoint truly conservative judges.

“I think Justice Scalia’s passing,” Cruz said, taking a veiled jab at Trump’s gutter politics, “has elevated the assessment of the men and women of Nevada.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate