During Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings on Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) used the issue of school choice as an example to explain the proper role of a Supreme Court Justice and criticize the Democrats’ support of judicial activism.
“An issue that I am deeply passionate about is school choice.” Cruz began. “I think school choice is the civil rights issue of the next century. But I also think the right arena to fight for school choice is right here in the United States Senate. The right arena to fight for school choice is in the state legislatures. It is in the politically accountable elected legislatures.”
“So, do I want to see a federal court issue an order mandating school choice across the country? It might be simpler if I could just convince five justices to order every jurisdiction in America, you must have school choice. It would be a lot easier than trying to convince 51 or 60 senators, trying to convince the House.” He continued. “We’ve gotten school choice legislation passed through this body that I’ve introduced, but it’s been hard fought. It’d be much easier if five philosopher kings could just mandate it. But, that would not be an appropriate judicial role. And I’m certainly not asking Judge Barrett to issue a ruling. Although I believe that policy is the right policy. It’s not a judge’s role to mandate it.”
“You look at a case called Zelman v. Simmons-Harris. That was a case that was a challenge to an Ohio school choice program.” Cruz continued. “Ohio school choice program gave scholarships to thousands of low-income children, mostly African American and Hispanic children trapped in failing schools. It gave them hope, it gave them a chance at a decent education, a chance to escape violence, a chance to have a shot at the American dream.”
“Four justices were prepared to strike down that program as unconstitutional.” Cruz said. “And with it, every other school choice program in America. To rule that the Constitution doesn’t let the elected legislatures decide to give scholarships to kids if they choose to go to a religious institution. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a radical and activist position. Four justices were ready to shut down school choice programs all across the country.”