Ted Cruz on Crime

Republican Texas Senator


In death penalty cases, describe brutal nature of crime

[In death penalty cases], defense lawyers tend to file a flurry of last-minute appeals to the Supreme Court for emergency stays of execution. If the appeal was in a circuit assigned to your justice, it was your responsibility to read through the entire petition as quickly as possible. Then the clerk would call his boss, who was at home and probably asleep (although they knew the call was coming).

I would make a point of doing something the liberal clerks who opposed capital punishment rarely did-- simply describing the brutal nature of the crime for which the defendant had been convicted. The appeal would go to the full Court for a vote. Each of the other eight clerks would call their justices at home, wake them up, and then the justices would each vote on the appeal that night.

I still don't understand why the justices tolerate this gamesmanship, which diminishes respect for the rule of law.

Source: A Time for Truth, by Ted Cruz, p. 92 , Jun 30, 2015

End last-minute death penalty appeals: one week deadline

One sobering component of being a Supreme Court clerk literally involves life-and-death decisions. A great many states set executions late at night, often at midnight. Just before that deadline, under the current system, defense lawyers tend to file a flurry of last-minute appeals to the Supreme Court for emergency stays of execution.

This gamesmanship diminishes respect for the rule of law. It would be a simple matter for the Court to issue rules saying that all applications for stays must be filed at least one week before the execution date. Or, even a single justice could simply announce publicly that he or she would not vote to stay any execution if the stay application were filed less than a week earlier. That would allow, fair, careful, reasoned consideration of the legal claims, not haphazard skimming at midnight. The rule could exclude claims of actual innocence--which could be filed at any time whatsoever--but the vast majority of capital defendants make no claims of innocence.

Source: A Time for Truth, by Ted Cruz, p. 92-3 , Jun 30, 2015

Capital punishment for the very worst child rapists

As she lay in the hospital bed, in labor, Heidi was typing furiously on her Blackberry, still tending to the needs of her clients. I admired her tenacious work ethic--it's one of the many qualities that made me fall in love with her--but this was too much. I gently pulled the Blackberry out of her hands. "It will be here later," I said. She had more important things to do.

To be fair, when it came to leaving work at the hospital steps, I wasn't completely innocent. During much of the time we were there, I was studying cases for an oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled for two days later. I was appearing in support of a Louisiana law that allowed capital punishment for the very worst child rapists. It was a horrible case, where a 300-pound man had brutalized has seven-year-old stepdaughter. So just hours after Caroline was born, I said a prayer of thanksgiving, kissed my beautiful wife and baby daughter, rushed to the airport, and flew to Washington to argue the case.

Source: A Time for Truth, by Ted Cruz, p.180 , Jun 30, 2015

Won release for convicted murderer on DNA-based appeal

I was proud to represent John Thompson, a Louisiana man who had been wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Two of my partners had represented Thompson pro bono for decades, and they had uncovered DNA evidence that proved his innocence. Tragically, the Louisiana district attorney's office had deliberately suppressed the DNA evidence, and Thompson spent 18 years of his life imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. He was released, and he subsequently sued the DA's office for the wrongful conduct. A jury awarded $14 million, and I helped represent Thompson on appeal.

Some caricatures suggest that a conservative would be reluctant to represent a convicted murderer. That may be true, if the client is clearly guilty. But John Thompson was innocent. And critical to supporting the death penalty is ensuring that we vigorously protect the innocent. DNA has enabled many guilty persons to be convicted, and it has proven the innocence of many others.

Source: A Time for Truth, by Ted Cruz, p.183-4 , Jun 30, 2015

There's a special circle of Hell for rapists & pedophiles

Before the Texas Supreme Court, I won a case upholding the Texas Sexually Violent Predator Civil Commitment law, which had been struck down by a state court of appeals. No cases were more horrifying than the numerous criminal cases I litigated involving rapists and pedophiles--I'm convinced there's a special circle of Hell for such cold-hearted predators--and helping play a meaningful role preventing sexual assault and child molestation made my work in law enforcement especially rewarding.
Source: A Time for Truth, by Ted Cruz, p.172 , Jun 30, 2015

Convert regulatory crimes into civil offenses

The number of federal criminal offenses would now exceed 4,600. But even that does not capture the full scope of our overcriminalization epidemic because many federal regulations carry criminal penalties. If those regulations are included in the tally, then the total number of federal offenses could reach a staggering 300,000. Congress and the president should work together--perhaps through a commission--to scrub the entire US Code, eliminating crimes that are redundant and converting regulatory crimes into civil offenses.

Perhaps most importantly, Congress should enact legislation that requires the government to prove the defendant knowingly violated the law--or that, at least, allows a mistake of law defense--for certain classes of crimes that have no analog in the common law or that no reasonable person would understand to be inherently wrong. Where the government has criminalized non-blameworthy conduct for regulatory purposes, ignorance of the law should be a valid defense to criminal liability.

Source: Brennan Center for Justice essays, p. 32-3 , Apr 28, 2015

Freeing killer when prosecutors erred sets a bad precedent

In 2004, Cruz argued before the SCOTUS not to release Michael Haley, who had been sentenced to 14 years in prison for stealing a Wal-Mart calculator, despite the fact the maximum state sentence was two years. Cruz conceded that prosecutors had erred, but he still argued that freeing Haley would set a precedent that could undermine the convictions of others who were unquestionably guilty. Some of the justices stated they found Cruz's suggestion that Haley return to jail unacceptable. "Is there some rule that you can't confess error in your state?" Justice Anthony Kennedy asked. The justices sent the case back to a lower court where Haley was resentenced to "time served."
Source: Cruzing to the White House, by Mario Broes, p. 44 , Mar 7, 2014

World Court should have no say in Texas executions

Ted Cruz argued and won a US Supreme Court case against 90 nations to guarantee the right for Texas and the US to carry out justice for a brutal murderer and rapist, without being subject to the laws of the World Court.

Ted successfully represented Texas in Medellin v. Texas [a capital case which resulted in the 2008 execution of Jos‚ Ernesto Medellˇn], which upheld US sovereignty and held that the World Court cannot bind the US justice system.

Source: Campaign website, www.tedcruz.org, "Issues" , Jul 17, 2011

Fully monitor sexual predators & bring them to justice

As Solicitor General, Ted Cruz played an essential role in helping crack down on the growing scourge of sexual predators. He defended the primary state law at the Texas Supreme Court that ensures sexual predators will be fully monitored and brought to justice.

Cruz successfully defended the constitutionality of Texas Sexually Violent Predator Civil Commitment law before the Texas Supreme Court, allowing the state to fully monitor predators determined to threaten children.

Source: Campaign website, www.tedcruz.org, "Issues" , Jul 17, 2011

Supports the death penalty.

Cruz supports the CC Voters Guide question on the death penalty

Christian Coalition publishes a number of special voter educational materials including the Christian Coalition Voter Guides, which provide voters with critical information about where candidates stand on important faith and family issues. The Christian Coalition Voters Guide summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: "Capital punishment for certain crimes, such as first degree murder & terrorism"

Source: Christian Coalition Voter Guide 12-CC-q8 on Oct 31, 2012

Death penalty for killing police officers.

Cruz signed death penalty for killing police officers

Congressional Summary: Makes the killing or attempted killing of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or other first responder an aggravating factor in death penalty determinations [when] the defendant killed or attempted to kill a person who is authorized by law:

Opposing argument: [Sen. Bernie Sanders, Oct. 13, 2015]: "Black lives matter. The African American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and three days later she's dead in jail. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major reforms in a broken criminal justice system. I intend to make sure people have education and jobs rather than jail cells."

Opposing argument: [ACLU of Louisiana, July 7, 2015]: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill into law that makes targeting a police officer a hate crime. Passage of such bills is a top priority for a national organization called Blue Lives Matter, which was formed in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. [A video captured] "police killing a black man who was minding his own business," says the director of ACLU-LA. But it was the civil rights of police officers that Edwards was concerned about, as if theirs were being routinely violated: "I'm not aware of any evidence that police officers have been victimized that would justify giving them special protection."

Source: Thin Blue Line Act 16-S2034 on Feb 9, 2015

Rated 55% by the NAPO, indicating a moderate stance on police issues.

Cruz scores 55% by the NAPO on crime & police issues

Ratings by the National Association of Police Organizations indicate support or opposition to issues of importance to police and crime. The organization's self-description: "The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) is a coalition of police units and associations from across the United States. NAPO was organized for the purpose of advancing the interests of America's law enforcement officers through legislative advocacy, political action, and education.

"Increasingly, the rights and interests of law enforcement officers have been the subject of legislative, executive, and judicial action in the nation’s capital. NAPO works to influence the course of national affairs where law enforcement interests are concerned. The following list includes examples of NAPO’s accomplishments:

VoteMatch scoring for the NAPO ratings is as follows:

Source: NAPO ratings on Congress and politicians 2014_NAPO on Dec 31, 2014

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Page last updated: Jun 02, 2019