GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz said Monday night that the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was “a classic example of judicial activism.”
The statement came during a Fox News town hall event, on the eve of the Wisconsin primary, when host Megyn Kelly asked Cruz if the famous Supreme Court case that made abortion legal throughout the country was “settled law.”
“No, and I think it was a classic example of judicial activism,” Cruz replied. The Texas senator continued:
My whole life I’ve been a passionate defender of the Constitution, and I think judicial activism is wrong. One of the worst things about the Supreme Court in 1973 stepping in and seizing this issue is it took it out of control of the people. It said that five unelected judges will decide this issue rather than 330 million Americans. I believe under our Constitution we have a democratic society and that if someone wants to pass legislation limiting or expanding abortion, the way to do that is to convince your fellow citizens to make the case at the ballot box.
Cruz was responding to a question from an attendee from Madison, who asked:
I consider myself a moderate Republican, and I’m pro-choice. One of my fears and concerns is that if you become president, you may make abortion illegal nationwide. So what’s your message to me and other women and men regarding that issue and that fear?
Cruz acknowledged the issue of life has “torn this country apart for many, many decades.”
“And my view, I’m pro-life,” he said. “I believe that we should protect every human life, and we should protect every life from the moment of conception.”
But Cruz added that he would not make abortion illegal because he believes the issue should be decided in the states, according to the Constitution.
Making the case “at the ballot box,” he said, is “ultimately the check for both your views and my views, that you’ve got to convince our fellow citizens.”
“But I think all of us should agree that it’s a much better system to have important public policy issues decided by the people, at the ballot box, rather than five unelected lawyers just imposing their views on everybody else,” he added.
And I will say there is more and more consensus we are seeing on this issue, as we see, for example, people coming together to bar extreme practices, things like partial-birth abortion, where we’re seeing a large consensus of American people saying this practice is gruesome; it’s barbaric. It is my hope that we see people’s hearts and minds change, but this is an issue where it’s going to take time for people’s hearts and minds to change–that if you’re gonna change a major issue of public policy, the way to do so, I believe, is at the ballot box.
Cruz addressed the issue of pregnancy resulting from a rape – often held up as a necessary “exception” to laws that restrict abortion. He explained that, as solicitor general in Texas, he handled many cases involving rape. Cruz said he argued before the Supreme Court in defense of state laws imposing capital punishment for the worst child rapists.
“Rape is a horrific crime against the humanity of a person and needs to be punished and punished severely,” adding:
But at the same time, as horrible as that crime is, I don’t believe it’s the child’s fault. And we weep at the crime and want to do everything we can to prevent the crime on the front end and punish the criminal, but I don’t believe it makes sense to blame the child.
Kelly said some would say Cruz’s view would force a woman who had been raped to go through the trauma of carrying her rapist’s baby for nine months.
“You have to convince your fellow citizens,” Cruz repeated. “That’s ultimately the check of a democratic society, is you’ve got to convince 330 million Americans. And before Roe v. Wade, it was a question state by state, so here it would be a question for Wisconsin.”
“What should the laws be, governing abortion?” he asked. “If Roe v. Wade was not the law, it would be up to the people of Wisconsin to decide, and the people of Wisconsin might decide to allow some exceptions, to not allow some exceptions.”
“Everyone agrees you always want to protect the life of the mother,” Cruz stated. He continued:
But if you trust the people – it’s one of the reasons why the Constitution and Bill of Rights can be such a unifying document and approach because ultimately the Constitution entrusts the people with making these decisions, not having them forced on us by unelected judges.
Cruz commented on the remarks of his rival Donald Trump, who encountered difficulties in articulating his views about abortion last week and also retweeted an unflattering photo of Cruz’s wife, Heidi.
Trump said if abortion were made illegal, women who had them could receive some form of punishment. His campaign then clarified his statement twice. “The statement Donald Trump made this week … was a bizarre statement. … It’s showed he’s not considered, seriously, this issue,” Cruz said.