U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz slammed PolitiFact on Tuesday for rating his July statement that there is “clear legal authority to handcuff and put in leg irons” absentee Democratic Texas legislators “false.”
“The Texas Supreme Court just agreed with me—unanimously,” Cruz tweeted of the state court’s decision ruling Democrats who fled the Capitol over a controversial voting bill can be civilly detained and returned to the House chamber.
“But, of course, PolitiFact still rules the claim ‘false.’ They have yet to issue a correction,” he wrote.
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan issued civil arrest warrants on Tuesday for 52 errant Democrats staying away from the Capitol to block Republicans from moving the legislation forward hours after the Supreme Court ruling.
Cruz retweeted RealClearInvestigations senior writer Mark Hemingway who wrote “Ted Cruz is the former Solicitor General of Texas, but hey I’m sure the PolitiFact writer who spent 90 minutes researching this knows Texas law better than he does.”
Cruz was appointed as solicitor general in the state in 2003.
TEXAS SUPREME COURT ALLOWS FOR ARREST OF DEMOCRATS WHO DON’T SHOW UP TO LEGISLATURE
Texas law allows for absent legislators to be compelled to return but PolitiFact took issue with Cruz’s “handcuff” and “leg irons” claim as the Democrats won’t face criminal charges.
There is no precedent in the state for physically forcing a lawmaker back to the chamber, PolitiFact reported, noting it would be a novel situation if any Democrats refuse to comply with law enforcement’s request they return.
Cruz made the statement to a reporter a day after more than 50 Democrats fled the Capitol. Weeks later, they still haven’t returned.
“I just question whether [the Texas Department of Public Safety] or anyone can break down my door to come and put me in shackles and drag me there,” Democratic state Rep. Vikki Goodwin told the Dallas Morning News Tuesday. “I feel certain that I can stay in my home, and stay off the House floor.”
PolitiFact said it rated Cruz’s comment false because he said there was “clear legal authority” in the state’s constitution to handcuff absent lawmakers who haven’t committed a crime.
The fact-checking organization called Cruz’s claim that physical force was allowed a “gray area of the law.”
“I’m not going to argue with the junior senator about this, but what I’m saying is there’s no precedent anywhere for any of this,” Randall Erben, a University of Texas School of Law adjunct professor told PolitiFact. Erben is a former aide to Gov. Greg Abbott. “He may have found some authority someplace from somewhere, but it’s not going to be relevant or on point to the interpretation by a court of competent jurisdiction, which under the Constitution is the only authority that anybody has to do this.”
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Cruz’s office told PolitiFact in a statement that the “clear legal authority” stemmed from the U.S. Constitution and a 1988 incident in which an Oregon legislator was returned to the statehouse by force.
“Pretending that the law doesn’t clearly allow for the arrest and potential physical compulsion of delinquent legislators is patently absurd,” Cruz spokesman Steve Guest told PolitiFact.
Cruz didn’t immediately respond to Fox News’ late-night request for comment.