This weekend, Texas Senator Ted Cruz said (unsurprisingly) that he thought Obergefell v. Hodges — the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide — was wrongly decided. Predictably, the panel of CNN’s New Day on Monday morning took Cruz’s remarks out of context to bash the Texas Senator and the “right extreme of the base” that is still opposed to gay marriage in today’s enlightened America.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, filling in for New Day co-host Brianna Keilar, set the stage for the panel by playing two clips of Cruz from his show The Cloakroom:
Obergefell, like Roe v. Wade, ignored two centuries of our nation's history. Marriage was always an issue that was left to the states. [SCREEN WIPE] In Obergefell, the Court said, no, we know better than you guys do and now every state must — uh, must sanction and — and permit gay marriage. Uh — I think that decision was clearly wrong when it was decided. Um — it was the Court overreaching.
But a much longer six-minute clip of the episode posted on Twitter by Cruz’s special advisor for communications Steve Guest provided the much-needed context for what the Senator said:
So in Dobbs, what the Supreme Court said is Roe is different because it’s the only one of the cases that involves the taking of a human life and that’s qualitatively different. I agree with that proposition...To be honest, I don’t think this Court has any appetite for overturning any of these decisions. I think Justice Thomas was being a purist in terms of what the Constitution means, but I don’t think they’re — there are other Justices — uh, interested in going down that road.
Thus, the following reactions are based on an inaccurate picture of what Cruz actually said.
After airing the edited clips, Collins brought on CNN’s faux-conservative power couple, Margaret Hoover and John Avlon, to tag team the outrage, with Hoover telling the audience, “Let's just be reminded that Ted Cruz is pandering not just to the base of the Republican Party but to the worst kind of bigotry in the Republican Party.”
Hoover snidely remarked that Justice Clarence Thomas’s seeming openness to overturning Obergefell is idiotic because it would put his own marriage in jeopardy (yes, you read that right):
Of course, Clarence Thomas didn't suggest we should reexamine Loving v. Virginia — which the Obergefell decision is based on — which argues that marriage is a fundamental right. Of course, the Loving v. Virginia decision is about interracial marriage — of which Clarence Thomas benefits from that law and that reading of the Constitution so all of this is circular inanity and pandering to the bigots.
Avlon then chimed in, saying, “Cruz is dignifying politically what Clarence Thomas wrote that the other Justices tried to say oh, we’re not talking about that.”
Lamenting the “anti-majoritarian impulse” that has — in his mind — taken over the modern right, Avlon characterized increasing support for same-sex marriage in the U.S. after the Obergefell decision as “a political problem for Republicans,” and flatly stated that any legal challenges to same-sex marriage in such an environment would be, “a legitimacy-of-the-Court problem.”
Of course, no leftist hand-wringing would be complete without connecting the evil conservative to Trump in some way, so Hoover said that support for overturning Obergefell comes from the “right extreme of the base of the Republican Party. Those self-identified Republicans that are turning out in primaries that are trying to throw out every Republican who voted to impeach Trump.”
Avlon concluded with his trademark smugness, lecturing those who are still actually conservative, “I know the name Cheney isn't popular in Republican circles anymore, but if you’re — if you’re a right-wing activist who says I believe in freedom, as Dick Cheney once said about marriage, freedom means freedom for everybody.”
There’s a lot wrong with this panel. The smugness, the faux-outrage at a conservative Christian holding conservative Christian views, the Loving v. Virginia non sequitur. But the cardinal sin of this panel is that it completely mischaracterizes what Cruz actually said.
But of course you can’t let those pesky facts get in the way of a good story, can you CNN?
Click “Expand” to see the relevant transcript.
CNN’s New Day
6:38:55 AM ET
KAITLAN COLLINS: Well, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade there are still major questions about whether the Court is going to try to use the framework for that decision to repeal rights beyond abortion, like maybe same-sex marriage. Senator Ted Cruz believes that the Supreme Court was “clearly wrong” when it legalized same-sex marriage in the landmark ruling in 2015.
[Cuts to clip]
TED CRUZ [On Verdict with Ted Cruz, 07/17/22]: Obergefell, like Roe v. Wade, ignored two centuries of our nation's history. Marriage was always an issue that was left to the states. [SCREEN WIPE] In Obergefell, the Court said, no, we know better than you guys do and now every state must — uh, must sanction and — and permit gay marriage. Uh — I think that decision was clearly wrong when it was decided. Um — it was the Court overreaching.
[End of clip]
COLLINS: Joining us now is CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover and CNN senior political analyst John Avlon. I know both of you have a lot of thoughts on this.
MARGARET HOOVER: I love waking up to the latest inanity from Ted Cruz. I mean, if the uninitiated are watching and think oh yeah, that’s really interesting, a senator from Texas who actually has a law degree is saying this, maybe we should look at this. Let's just be reminded that Ted Cruz is pandering not just to the base of the Republican Party but to the worst kind of bigotry in the Republican Party. And what we know is the Texas GOP has just passed this plank saying that being gay is abnormal. And so if you’re part of the Republican party in Texas, you subscribe to this notion that being gay is abnormal now.
You know that Clarence Thomas has said in the Supreme Court decision overturning — uh, Roe in Dobbs that we should reexamine previous precedents. Of course, Clarence Thomas didn't suggest we should reexamine Loving v. Virginia — which the Obergefell decision is based on — which argues that marriage is a fundamental right. Of course, the Loving v. Virginia decision is about interracial marriage — of which Clarence Thomas benefits from that law and that reading of the Constitution so all of this is circular inanity and pandering to the bigots.
JOHN AVLON: But — but it's not inanity to the extent that Cruz is dignifying politically what Clarence Thomas wrote that the other Justices tried to say oh, we’re not talking about that. Because there is an intellectual flow through line and — and you heard him say right there well, you know historically, as a matter of tradition, marriage was left up to the states. I mean, he just invalidated by that logic Loving v. Virginia which everyone will say no, no, no, we’re not talking about that.
JOHN BERMAN: You know, Alito specifically said —
BERMAN: — in his ruling this doesn't raise any questions beyond abortion, but Clarence Thomas specifically said it does and Ted Cruz is now saying, yeah.
AVLON: Yeah, I mean —
HOOVER: And — and what this is about, right, is on the political side you always want to start gathering momentum politically so that the Court — because the Court has traditionally been afraid of being ahead of where the public is on public opinion on any political issue. 70% of the country is in favor of same-sex marriage now.
HOOVER: 55% of Republicans as of 2021 were in favor of same-sex marriage. The country has gotten more in favor of same-sex marriage not less, but the country is also more in favor of certain restrictions and protections of abortion and the Court reversed that.
AVLON: Right. And —
HOOVER: So the thing that concerns me — I'm sorry —
AVLON: — no, that's fine. Get out of my head, you’re good — it’s all —
HOOVER: — is that the Republican here is, you know, you can't be naive about when they're threatening fundamental rights anymore if — if you thought that nothing would have ever happened to Roe.
AVLON: It is — It’s — it’s the anti-majoritarian impulse you’re seeing. Right now conservatives are saying, look, we got the Court, doesn't matter what public opinion is. Now, if there’s a disconnect between rulings and the vast majority of public opinion, of which I’d say 71% support for marriage equality — a sea change over the last 20 years is one — that is a political problem for Republicans. It’s also a legitimacy-of-the-Court problem and Ted Cruz of course is just throwing fuel on that fire.
COLLINS: But so how do conservative voters view this? Do they agree with the — a Ted Cruz or are they more on the side of, well this is a decision, we've lived with this, and this is how it should be?
AVLON: I — um, I mean —
HOOVER: It —
AVLON: — they just threw out Roe after 50 years, why would they be attached to Obergefell after — after a decade? I think what Ted Cruz is doing is trying — is trying to strengthen his right flank for some future fantasy presidential campaign.
HOOVER: And — and conserve it’s not fantasy. As — you're right it's not that fantastic. Ted Cruz is definitely going to run for president.
AVLON: Oh, Ted Cruz is going to run for President, I'm just saying Cruz has a fundamental likability problem and that — you know, is — usually matters in — in these things.
HOOVER: But your question was about conservative voters and —
COLLINS: Yeah, what do they think?
HOOVER: — I think conservative voters are — frankly they're different all over the country, but in Texas in particular, at least those self-identified Republicans who turn out for the convention in Texas, they probably like it.
BERMAN: The question is does Ted Cruz speak for anyone but Ted Cruz in this argument?
HOOVER: He speaks for the —
HOOVER: — right extreme of the base of the Republican Party. Those self-identified Republicans that are turning out in primaries that are trying to throw out every Republican who voted to impeach Trump — there's three left, by the way — in two weeks you’ve got primaries for Republicans that are trying to take out the last three Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. I mean, the self-identified base of the Republican Party, the self-identified conservatives, they're going along with this.
AVLON: And look, you know — just, just — I know — I know the name Cheney isn't popular in Republican circles anymore, but if you’re — if you’re a right-wing activist who says I believe in freedom, as Dick Cheney once said about marriage, freedom means freedom for everybody.
COLLINS: John —
BERMAN:: Margaret and John, or John and Margaret, whatever. Thank you.
COLLINS: Great to have you guys.
AVLON: Good to see you guys.