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Sen. Cruz to Vanita Gupta: ‘Your Record is One of an Extreme Partisan Advocate’

Questions the nominee for Associate Attorney General, Vanita Gupta, in Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today questioned President Biden's nominee for Associate Attorney General, Vanita Gupta, in her confirmation hearing. Highlights of his line of questioning are below.

WATCH: Cruz To Biden DOJ Nominee Vanita Gupta: Your Record Is One of an Extreme Partisan Advocate

On the politicization of the Department of Justice under the Obama-Biden administration regarding pro-life conservatives, Sen. Cruz asked:

"Ms. Gupta, as I look at your record, your record is one of an extreme partisan advocate. Your record is an ideologue. Now, there's a role in our democratic and political process for ideologues, for people that are extreme, radical advocates. That role, I believe, is not being the number three lawyer at the Department of Justice in charge of the impartial and fair administration of justice. As I look at your record on every single issue, the positions 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. On the issue of abortion - is there any restriction whatsoever on an abortion that you believe is permissible?"

Ms. Gupta responded:

"Senator, my duty, if confirmed, will be to federal laws and the Constitution. Roe versus Wade is established precedent and has been reaffirmed numerous times by the courts. And my duty will be to enforce the federal laws and the Constitution."

Sen. Cruz continued:

"So you're declining to answer that."

On her career history of hostility toward religious liberty, Sen. Cruz asked:

"You've demonstrated significant hostility to religious liberty. You have defended the Obama administration's targeting and persecuting of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Not too long ago, religious liberty was a bipartisan commitment in Congress. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was introduced by then-Representative Chuck Schumer. It passed the House unanimously. It passed the Senate 97-3 and was signed into law by President Clinton. Now, today's Democratic Party has abandoned religious liberty. Indeed, the Equality Act, of which you are a vocal supporter that has now come out of the House of Representatives, is a radical piece of legislation that, among other things, explicitly repeals significant aspects of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to take away our religious liberties. You have been a vocal defender of the Equality Act. Do you agree with the provision stripping religious liberty protections from Americans?"

Ms. Gupta responded:

"Senator, if confirmed as an Associate Attorney General, my duty will be to enforce laws to protect religious liberty and the anti-discrimination laws that the Justice Department."

Sen. Cruz continued:

"Okay, so you're declining to answer that as well."

On her record of opposing school choice programs, Sen. Cruz asked:

"Your tenure at the Department of Justice demonstrated a radical hostility to school choice, such as the Department of Justice intervened in a case trying to kill a Louisiana school choice program there, even though many African-American parents strongly supported the program. The Black Alliance for Educational Options was fighting on the other side, the federal court at issue there specifically reprimanded the Department of Justice under your leadership for ineffective lawyering. That's a quote and for attempting to, ‘Circumvent the ordinary litigation process in order to regulate the school choice program without any legal judgment against the state.' Do you regret using the Department of Justice to fight against the school choice program that was providing hope and opportunity to low income minority kids in Louisiana?"

Ms. Gupta responded:

"Senator, I have dedicated my life to fighting for opportunity for low income children of all communities in having educational opportunity. I again, as I said, my duty, if I am confirmed as Associate Attorney General, will be to enforce the law and constitution. And I have to look at the facts and laws of this country."

Sen. Cruz continued:

"You're still not answering the question."

On her controversial comments regarding defunding law enforcement, Sen. Cruz asked:

"At the beginning of this hearing, Chairman Durbin asked you about abolishing the police and you said, ‘I do not support defunding the police,' which is clearly the right political answer, seeking to get confirmed. I would note that just a few months ago, last year, in written correspondence with the Senate of the United States, you encouraged Congress to, quote, ‘Reexamine federal spending priorities and shrink the footprint of the police and criminal legal system in this country.' And you also encourage reallocating resources and stated, quote, ‘Some people call it defunding the police. Other people call it divest, invest. But whatever you call it, if you care about mass incarceration, you have to care about skewed funding priorities.' These were not college writings. This was about eight months ago that you wrote this to the Senate. By any measure that's advocating defunding the police. And yet today you're telling this committee you don't support it."

Ms. Gupta responded:

"Those statements reflect conversations that I've had with sheriffs around the country, police officers, police chiefs, civil rights activists who have who have been talking to me for years, long before, as I said, at the events of the summer, about the fact that we have placed so many of our nation's social problems at the feet of police and we have defunded mental health services. We have defunded substance use services. We have expected law enforcement to be the only go-to solution we have given in many communities. Only one response available for when we have family members in crisis or with drug addictions. And this is an issue where it is one that I think really unifies law enforcement and civil rights advocates and community leaders who are seeking alternatives to incarceration for addressing some of these very challenging questions. And sheriffs who are frankly fed up with the fact that their jails are 70 percent filled with people who are suffering from mental illness."

Sen. Cruz concluded:

"With all due respect, I don't believe you have been speaking to sheriffs and advocating for defunding the police, and I've spoken to far too many sheriffs to find that credible."

On Big Tech censorship, Sen. Cruz asked:

"You were one of a handful of individuals invited to have dinner with Mark Zuckerberg to discuss the growing problem we've seen of Big Tech censorship - silencing voices that Silicon Valley billionaires disagree with. And the dismaying thing is what's been publicly reported about that meeting is not that you urged Mr. Zuckerberg and others in tech to protect free speech, to have a free and fair marketplace of ideas, but precisely the opposite from what's been publicly reported. The quote that's been reported from this, in fact, you tweeted this, was Mark Zuckerberg doesn't know what the First Amendment is for - he thinks it's a floating right that carries no responsibilities. That seems to suggest that you want Big Tech to censor more speech rather than less speech. Would that be a good direction in this country?"

Ms. Gupta responded:

"Senator, I have fiercely defended freedom of speech. I've worked for an organization that has often been criticized for being so fierce in its defense of all free speech. I also believe that any type of viewpoint discrimination is an anathema to this country. It is unconstitutional."

Sen. Cruz continued:

"Let me just ask a simple question. Should Big Tech be censoring more or censoring less?"

Ms. Gupta responded:

"I'm not sure I know which side of the ledger you're talking about. They have community standards that they are not enforcing at many of these companies that are creating a lot of problems around issues in our democracy. For a long time, they were allowing Facebook was allowing unlawful ad targeting and housing ads."

Sen. Cruz concluded:

"I'm concerned if you're saying that you want them enforcing community standards when you began this exchange with Senator Booker by saying everyone in America has implicit racial bias, and you now want Big Tech Silicon Valley billionaires with monopolies to enforce standards that just happen to coincide with the political views you have."

Watch Sen. Cruz's full line of questioning here.