Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) questioned President Joe Biden's nominee for Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta on a number of positions she has given public support to over the years, arguing that she is too radically left-wing to take on what is supposed to be an apolitical role in the Department of Justice.
"I think one of the worst legacies of the Obama presidency was the politicization of the Department of Justice during the eight years of the Obama-Biden presidency," Cruz began, suggesting that the DOJ has a history of being apolitical and non-partisan. "The Obama-Biden administration corrupted that process and we are still dealing with the consequences."
Cruz argued that "appointees to the Department of Justice should have a demonstrated fidelity to law and impartiality," calling Vanita Gupta an "extreme partisan advocate" and "ideologue," a role which he said is important in the American political system, but not appropriate for the DOJ.
"As I look at your record on every single issue, the position you've advocated for are on the extreme left and you've demonstrated an intolerance for and hostility to anyone that disagrees with the extreme left political positions," Cruz said to Gupta.
The Senator asked Gupta whether she thinks there are any situations where abortion should be considered unacceptable, to which Gupta affirmed her support for Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion across the United States. She did not directly answer the question.
Cruz then moved on to gun control, asking about her position on upholding District of Columbia v. Heller, a 2008 Supreme Court ruling which affirmed the right of the individual American to keep and bear arms under the second amendment to the US constitution.
"Heller is the law of the land and I will enforce Heller as..." Gupta said before being cut off by Cruz.
Cruz moved on to ask Gupta about religious liberty, claiming that Democrats no longer hold a bipartisan commitment to religious liberty like they once did. He specifically took aim at the "radical" Equality Act, which he says "explicitly repeals significant aspects of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to take away our religious liberties."
Noting that Gupta supports the Equality Act, Cruz asked "do you agree with the provisions stripping RFRA's religious liberty protections from Americans?"
Gupta said that she is a religious woman and argued that she has defended religious freedom throughout her entire career. After Cruz claimed that she was dodging the question, Gupta said that she supports RFRA as well as anti-discrimination laws.
After attempting to ask Gupta for a third time whether she supports parts of the Equality Act which repeal certain religious liberty protections under RFRA, Cruz said that Gupta was "declining to answer the question" and moved on.
Cruz accused Gupta of holding a "radical hostility" towards school choice during her time at the Department of Justice under former President Barack Obama, which Cruz alleged harmed minority and underprivileged children. When asked if she regrets the DOJ's treatment of charter schools while she served in it, Gupta said that she has "dedicated my life to fighting for opportunity for low-income children."
Cruz once again accused Gupta of dodging the question.
The Texas Senator finished by asking Gupta about defunding the police, noting that while she has publicly opposed the concept of defunding, she has nevertheless promoted other policies of reallocating resources which would have similar effects.
Gupta assured Cruz that she does not support defunding the police, but that she believes that the United States has placed too much responsibility in the hands of police while underfunding mental health programs and other policies which reduce crime.
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