Cruz-Feinstein faceoff: Just one repercussion of SCOTUS appointments

By Laurie Bennett

March 14, 2013 at 6:01pm

Sen. Dianne Feinstein gave freshman Sen. Ted Cruz a dressing down Thursday during a heated debate on assault weapons.

We have to wonder whether Cruz had any knowledge of Feinstein’s background. Before her election to the Senate, she became mayor of San Francisco after the shooting deaths of her predecessor, Mayor George Moscone, and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, a horror she referenced in her comments.

While it’s tempting to write Cruz off as an ignoramus, it’s also worth remembering that he has degrees from Princeton and Harvard.

Perhaps more importantly, he clerked for former Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

When Richard Nixon named Rehnquist an associate justice in 1971, he not only ensured a stronger conservative voice on the court, he created opportunities for a succession of ambitious young clerks.

Their job prospects improved markedly when Rehnquist became chief justice during the Reagan administration.

The map above shows just a few of those clerks. The most prominent is current Chief Justice John Roberts.

Another is Brett McGurk, former director of Iraq and Afghanistan affairs with President George W. Bush’s National Security Council. McGurk was President Obama’s choice to be envoy to Iraq, but withdrew after revelations about his affair with a journalist.

John O’Neill went on to become a spokesman for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group that did considerable damage to John Kerry’s run for the White House.

Then again, another clerk, Jeffrey L. Bleich, became U.S. ambassador to Australia after supporting Obama’s candidacy.

However unpredictable their futures, Supreme Court clerks often move up to positions of considerable influence.

Ted Cruz is just the latest example, for better or worse.

Video after the Moscone-Milk murders:

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  • #1.   r lewis 03.15.2013

    Hmmm… Seems to me like Cruz dressed down Feinstein. Seems Cruz has a better knowledge of the constitution and bill of rights. Maybe it is those degrees from Princeton and Harvard and clerking for a Supreme Court Justice. I guess you just don’t learn these things as Mayor of San Francisco.

    An assault weapons ban is a slippery slope if enacted. Could be a big win or big lose if someone opts for a court challenge. If the supreme court agrees and cannot come up with a narrow arguement, then other parts of the constitution could be “nibbled at” as well. If the supreme court disagrees, we could be back to law abiding citizens legally entitled to own fully automatic machine guns as in the twenties.

    Better to amend the constitution, but no one wants this “difficult” way. Since “assault weapons” really aren’t fully automatic military weapons anyway, maybe better to let the sleeping dog lie.

    Sandy Hook was about a mentally ill young man with a mother that did not use good judgement to keep guns away from him. It was also about a school without sufficient protection from this kind of insanity. Feinsteins gun ban if enacted would unfortunately not have changed any of this. The young man would just have quickly put smaller clips into multiple handguns. We are debating about very little difference here in terms of weapons that can be legally obtained.

  • #2.   Laurie Bennett 03.15.2013

    With his background, Cruz may well have a better knowledge of the constitution. Which makes his comments even more reprehensible.

    He knows better. He knows that there are restrictions on other amendments. He’s simply playing to a political audience, rather than formulating a considered legal argument.

    No one answered him better than Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI):
    “It is hard to imagine that it would be a violation of the First Amendment for somebody to yell fire in a crowded theater but it’s not a violation of the Second Amendment to prevent somebody from bringing a hundred-round magazine into a crowded theater in a Aurora, Colorado.”

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