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Ted Cruz calls Dems' treatment of past GOP nominees 'explicitly racial' in thunderous opening statement during Ketanji Brown Jackson hearing

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Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

In a fiery opening statement at Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) raked Democrats over the coals for their "explicitly racial" treatment of Republican judicial nominees.

"If you are Hispanic or African-American, and you dare depart from their political orthodoxy, they will crush you, they will attack you, they will slander you, they will filibuster you," Cruz told Jackson, who, if confirmed, would be the first black woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Like several of his colleagues, Cruz pledged that Republicans would not turn the process into a "political circus," making pointed comments about how, "this will not be the kind of character smear that sadly our Democratic colleagues have gotten very good at."

He then dove into the history of the Senate Democrats and their character smears.

WATCH: Sen. Cruz’s opening statement in Jackson Supreme Court confirmation hearings www.youtube.com

"It is only one side of the aisle, the Democratic aisle, that went so into the gutter with Judge Robert Bork that they invented a new verb — to 'Bork' someone," Cruz said. He went on to attack the "reprehensible" treatment of Justice Clarence Thomas, quoting from a letter former President George H.W. Bush wrote describing the Democrats' treatment of Thomas as "just plain horrible ... They are trying to destroy a decent man."

"As Justice Thomas observed in that hearing, what happened there was, to use his words, a high-tech lynching. And I would note the chairman who presided over that disgrace was Joe Biden," Cruz said.

He called the confirmation hearing for Justice Brett Kavanaugh "one of the lowest moments in the history of this committee." He recounted how "Democrats on this committee sat on allegations, didn't refer them to the FBI, didn't ask for investigations, hid them and then leaked them. Against the wishes of the complainant." Then he mocked Democrats for having "Spartacus moments" and for featuring the testimony of "nuts" like Michael Avenatti, a former attorney and convicted fraudster.

"Judge Jackson, I can assure you that your hearing will feature none of that disgraceful behavior," Cruz said. "No one is going to inquire into your teenage dating habits. No one is going to ask you with mock severity, 'Do you like beer?'"

Cruz went on to say the Judiciary Committee has a "responsibility to focus on issues, to focus on your record, to focus on substance."

"It's not about race," Cruz added. "We will see Democrats and the media suggest that any senator that is skeptical of your nomination, that questions you vigorously, or that dares to vote against you must somehow harbor racial animus."

"I would note we are sitting on a committee where multiple members ... happily filibustered Judge Janice Rogers Brown, a very qualified African American woman nominated to the [United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit], precisely because they wanted to prevent Judge Brown from becoming Justice Brown," he continued.

Among those senators was then-Sen. Joe Biden, who worked with other Democrats to hold up Brown's nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court in 2003. A Democratic filibuster prevented Brown from being confirmed to the court for two years.

"The senior Democrats on this committee also filibustered Miguel Estrada, as the staff for [then-]Sen. Ted Kennedy [(D-Mass.)] said in writing at the time ... 'because he is Hispanic,'" Cruz said.

The Texas senator may have misspoken; it was an aide to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) who wrote in an email that liberal activists had “identified Miguel Estrada (D.C. Circuit) as especially dangerous, because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment," according to a 2013 article in the Washington Examiner.

Cruz said that Jackson would be judged based on her record, and whether she would expand freedom as a judge or restrict freedom.

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