Ted Cruz’s Legally Groundless Challenge to Biden’s Electoral Votes Was a Disgrace That Should Follow Him Forever
There is a lot of blame to go around for the poisonous delusions that led to yesterday’s riot at the Capitol, starting with a president who incited his followers with loony conspiracy theories and wild tales of a stolen election. But the disgraceful performance of Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) should figure prominently in histories of this shameful incident. By contrast, Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.), who also has reinforced some of Donald Trump’s fraud claims and even toyed with the idea of objecting to electoral votes, stared into the constitutional abyss and stepped back.
Cruz was one of six senators who voted against recognizing Arizona’s electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden last night and one of seven who supported the challenge to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes. Ostensibly, these objections were based on the claim that the votes were not “regularly given,” as required by the Electoral Count Act. Yet Cruz offered no reason to think that was true, meaning he had no legal basis for his objections.
Cruz presented his challenges as an attempt to assuage the doubts of Americans who think the election was “rigged” by appointing an “electoral commission” charged with conducting “a 10-day emergency audit” to investigate unfounded claims of systematic fraud that have been decisively rejected by state officials and the courts. He knew there was no way that was going to happen, but he pursued his objections anyway, even after yesterday’s pro-Trump chaos, vandalism, and violence led several of his erstwhile allies to reconsider their support for his plan. His pointless grandstanding lent credence to the unfounded accusations underlying the riot—accusations recklessly hurled by the same man Cruz himself has described as a “pathological liar” who “doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies”—while forsaking his oath to support and defend the Constitution.
“Recent polling shows that 39 percent of Americans believe the election that just occurred was ‘rigged,'” Cruz said when it was his turn to explain why he was objecting to Arizona’s electoral votes. “You may not agree with that assessment, but it is nonetheless a reality for nearly half the country….Even if you do not share that conviction, it is the responsibility, I believe, of this office to acknowledge that it is a profound threat to this country and to the legitimacy of any administrations that will come in the future.”
Cruz insisted that he wasn’t “arguing for setting aside this election.” His concern, he claimed, was that “tens of millions of Americans will see a vote against the objection as a statement that voter fraud doesn’t matter, isn’t real, and shouldn’t be taken seriously.” Dismissing their concerns, he said, “jeopardizes, I believe, the legitimacy of this and subsequent elections.”
What was missing from Cruz’s little speech? Any mention of evidence indicating that Arizona’s electoral votes were not properly certified, which is the only legal justification for rejecting them. A senator who takes his responsibilities seriously does not lodge an objection un
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