Sen. Ted Cruz's office told TheBlaze it was "curious" that the New Yorker would dig up a years-old speech for the purpose of dubbing him "our new McCarthy."
Nevertheless, Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said the Texas Republican's "substantive point" about Harvard Law School being home to Communists "was absolutely correct."
Cruz, the New Yorker reported, said in a 2010 speech that President Barack Obama "would have made a perfect president of Harvard Law School" because "there were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were 12 who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government." Cruz attended Harvard Law after Obama.
"It's curious that the New Yorker would dredge up a three-year-old speech and call it 'news,'" Frazier said in a statement to TheBlaze late Friday. "Regardless, Senator Cruz's substantive point was absolutely correct: in the mid-1990s, the Harvard Law School faculty included numerous self-described proponents of 'critical legal studies' -- a school of thought explicitly derived from Marxism – and they far outnumbered Republicans."
A Harvard Law School spokesman had told the New Yorker they were "puzzled by the senator’s assertions" and "unaware of any basis for them." Charles Fried, a Republican who served as President Ronald Reagan's solicitor general and taught Cruz at Harvard Law, also disputed the notion.
The New Yorker had said it was possible Cruz had been referring to the left-leaning critical legal studies, "a method of critiquing the political impact of the American legal system":
Professor Duncan Kennedy, for instance, a leader of the faction, who declined to comment on Cruz’s accusation, counts himself as influenced by the writings of Karl Marx. But he regards himself as a social democrat, not a Communist, and has never advocated the overthrow of the U.S. government by Communists.
It's not clear precisely what kind of Communist "overthrow" Cruz said the professors supported -- an actual physical takeover or, given the academic setting, a kind of intellectual one with an emphasis on ideas.
Frazier defended Cruz's original assertion, stating: "As two professors explained in the Stanford Law Review in 1984: 'A large segment of the [critical legal studies] membership forms part of the revisionist wing of Marxism. These members remain faithful to the central premises of Marx's thought, especially to the view that the material conditions of life are the engine of social history. Their course is defined by the magnetic pull of Marxism.'"
The New Yorker's "new McCarthy" is the latest allusion Cruz has drawn to McCarthyism in his short tenure in the Senate, a reference to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s notorious and aggressive pursuit of Communists in the 1950s.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told the New York Times earlier this month Cruz "was really reminiscent of a different time and place, when you said, ‘I have here in my pocket a speech you made on such and such a date,’ and, of course, nothing was in the pocket."