What’s at Stake


What’s At Stake

Below is an excerpt from Ted Cruz’s book,  A Time for Truth:  Reigniting the Promise of America.

The example below underscores how important it is for us to elect a true conservative.  It is ironic, scary, and sad all in one, that we now find ourselves with a current president who will more than likely nominate that one radical justice who could turn this into reality.  And if you’re like me, I don’t trust the current republican leadership to stop it!


“Of course, protecting gun ownership isn’t just a matter of good public policy.  It is also required as a matter of constitutional law.  So when the constitutionality of D.C.’s gun control law arrived at the Supreme Court for argument in 2008, I was optimistic that Solicitor General Paul Clement would argue for a robust interpretation of the Second Amendment. 

Sadly, the Bush Administration did not allow him to do that.  The department of Justice refused to support Dick Anthony Heller, a federal law enforcement officer and D.C. resident who was challenging the city’s prohibition of handguns.  Instead, the administration argued that “reasonable restrictions” are constitutional if they protect “important regulatory interests” – whatever that means.  The District of Columbia’s attorney general went even further, audaciously consenting that the Second Amendment offers no protection whatsoever to individual gun owners, because according to the district, it protects only the “collective right” of militias.

I was dismayed with the Bush administration’s attempt to water down the Second Amendment and incensed with D.C.’s attempt to write the Second Amendment entirely out of the Constitution.  So was Bush’s own vice president, Dick Cheney, who as president of the Senate signed on to a robustly conservative brief filed by 55 senators and 260 congressman.

Texas took the lead among the states defending the Second Amendment.  In the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, I presented oral argument in the companion case to Heller. And, before the Supreme Court, we wrote an amicus brief joined by thirty other states, in support of Heller’s challenge to the district’s laws.

Texas was willing-indeed, eager-to say that those laws violated the plain language of the Constitution.  Unlike the District of Columbia, we did not believe the Second Amendment applies only to militias.  And unlike the Bush administration, we did not believe the laws infringing Americans’ rights to “keep and bear arms” become constitutional whenever a federal judge finds them “reasonable”.  That’s not what the Constitution says; instead it says, ”the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  In my view, “shall not be infringed” means exactly that.*

In June 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with Texas.  It explained that “the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily take certain policy choices off the table.”  Among those unconstitutional policy choices was D.C.’s “absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.”  The merits of gun control may be debatable, “but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.”

The decision was 5-4, which meant that four justices had agreed with the District of Columbia’s radical position: not merely that some forms of “reasonable” gun control laws are permissible, but rather that nobody has any rights whatsoever under the Second Amendment.  In other words, four justices would  have held that the Second Amendment protects no individual right at all, that it establishes merely a “collective” right and is hence unenforceable by any American.  Under that extreme interpretation, Congress could pass legislation making it a criminal offense for any American to own a firearm, and no man or woman in the land could challenge that law.  And, ominously, we are just one vote away from the Supreme Court adopting that position, effectively erasing the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights.  If that doesn’t highlight the importance of the next president’s Supreme Court nominees, I don’t know what does.”

*That does not mean that there can never be any restriction on gun ownership.  For example, all of the amici states (and all nine justices) agreed that the long-standing prohibitions on felons owning firearms are consistent with the original understanding of the Second Amendment.   But any restriction must meet a strict standard, consistent with the Constitution.


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