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Ted Cruz Likes States’ Rights—Except When He Doesn’t


Ted Cruz supports the will of the states when it aligns with his talking points.

(Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

With the 2016 election season coming up, it’s time for Americans to fine-tune their hypocrisy meters in preparation for the onslaught of messaging from politicians hoping to score a few more years in office.

In particular, it might be time for them to aim their sights at Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who "USAToday" has deemed a “potential” presidential candidate for 2016. Those considering Cruz might want to know, though: He can’t seem to make up his mind on a few of his issues—like whether or not he believes in “states’ rights.”

At the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s orientation last week, Cruz chastised President Obama for not enforcing federal law on marijuana possession:

The president earlier this past year announced the Department of Justice is going to stop prosecuting certain drug crimes. Didn’t change the law.

You can go to Congress. You can get a conversation. You could get Democrats and Republicans who would say, "We ought to change our drug policy in some way," and you could have a real conversation. You could have hearings. You could look at the problem. You could discuss commonsense changes that maybe should happen or shouldn't happen. This president didn't do that. He just said, "The laws say one thing"—and mind you, these are criminal laws; these are laws that say if you do X, Y, and Z, you will go to prison. The president announced, "No, you won't."

Perhaps this is a justifiable position. Cruz says that he believes in the Constitution, and, according to the Constitution, it is the president’s job to enforce the laws that Congress legislates.Under this understanding, President Obama could rightfully be criticized for “not doing his job.”

After holding the Senate floor more than 21 hours and 19 minutes Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) emerged to speak to reporters off Senate floor concerning the Continuing Resolution battle and his dislike of "ObamaCare" on Capitol Hill Wednesday September 25, 2013. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

But therein lies the problem as well. Cruz also champions himself a “passionate fighter for limited government.” He has also purported to be a defender of states’ rights. Just a few months ago on Jay Leno, Cruz reached to that ideal to defend his position on marriage rights for homosexual people:

I support marriage between one man and one woman. But I also think it’s a question for the states. Some states have made decisions one way on gay marriage. Some states have made decisions the other way. And that’s the great thing about our Constitution, is different states can make different decisions depending on the values of their citizens.

The irony here is that Cruz is right. One of the great benefits of the United States Constitution, and, indeed, all federalist governments, is that local governments can make decisions based on the values of their localities. So, when the Supreme Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act—a law that decidedly did not respect the ruling of the states by not allowing federal marriage benefits to those married in states where it is legal for them to be so—Cruz praised the decision because of states’ rights, yes?


In a press release published on the day of the DOMA decision, Cruz stated, “Today’s Supreme Court decisions on marriage are a regrettable overreach against the will of the people as expressed through large, bipartisan majorities in Congress...”. Despite the fact that DOMA itself was a violation of the will of individual states, and despite the fact that DOMA was a terrible case of federal overreach into the sovereignty of those states, Cruz still decried it.

If Ted Cruz is a such an ardent defender of the rights of the states, as he purports, then he should be praising the president for respecting the decision of Colorado’s citizens that was made based their values. If Cruz is a defender of limited government, as he says, then he should be against the idea of the federal government reaching into Colorado to punish citizens for individual actions that they make in their lives.

But what Cruz has demonstrated here is not a commitment to the principles of a Constitutional or limited government. He has shown, rather, that he will invoke certain parts of a position when it suits him, and ignore them when it does not. This is, in fact, a consistent problem with “defenders” of the rights of the states. They only care about those rights when they coincide with what policies they want to see enacted.

To be sure, there are consistent supporters of the rights of state and local governments to make their own decisions, but Ted Cruz is not one of them.

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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