WASHINGTON -- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) claims the recent Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage and Obamacare are the "very definition of tyranny."
The 2016 presidential candidate, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, convened a hearing Wednesday to investigate what he called "abuses" by the highest court in the land.
"If any of us believes in democracy, in the constitutional rule of law, then whether we agree or disagree with a policy ... we should be horrified at the notion that five unelected judges can seize authority from the American people," he said.
"We did not establish philosopher kings in this country," Cruz added, before calling for term limits on Supreme Court justices.
The Texas firebrand further laid into Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote who wrote the majority opinion in the gay marriage case and who also voted to spare the Affordable Care Act from a major challenge. The senator said that Kennedy's "pop psychology has no basis in the text and history of the Constitution."
Kennedy's June opinion making marriage equality the law of the land was criticized by conservatives and even some liberals -- the latter of whom took issue with his "muddled" and "unconvincing" logic, even as they praised the outcome.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), the subcommittee's ranking member, said he was "surprised" that Republicans were upset with what has been, on the whole, a conservative-leaning court. He noted that liberals disagreed with other Supreme Court decisions, citing rulings on campaign finance and voting rights.
After opening statements from several legal experts, Cruz asked one witness, Chapman University law professor John C. Easterman, to elaborate on a proposal that would allow the states to rein in federal judicial power. Easterman, who serves as board chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, an anti-gay marriage group, said that states should have the ability to overrule the Supreme Court.
“I think the Constitution structure ought to give them a check, and the one that I propose is a simple majority of the states -- that would not be easy to accomplish on any issue because it would mean that only truly egregious threats to state sovereignty as a measure would rise to that level -- but a simple majority of the states ought to be able to override those kinds of decisions by the Supreme Court," he said.
What would constitute a "truly egregious" threat? Easterman did not say.