Ted Cruz walked into the lions’ den the other night — Stephen Colbert’s show in front of a live studio audience of hipster Late Show viewers in New York City, and he held his own.
Colbert brought up gay marriage out of the blue and demanded Cruz explain his heresy against the elite culture. Colbert tried to claim that gay marriage is not mentioned in the Constitution, and therefore it should be legal; Cruz responded by educating him on the Tenth Amendment, which says issues not mentioned in the Constitution are reserved to the states. Some of the crowd, not wanting to hear dissenting viewpoints, booed and hissed when Cruz cited democracy as an argument against judicial overreach. To his credit, Colbert asked them to stop. Cruz, turning to the audience, asked why anyone would want to hand the power of 320 million Americans to decide this issue for themselves to five unelected lawyers in Washington, D.C., to some applause, at which point Colbert abruptly ended the interview. Either the clock ran out or Colbert didn’t know how to respond.
Of course, the media is claiming, as usual, that Colbert “cornered” Cruz and intellectually defeated him, but watch the video and see who had the stronger points:
TED CRUZ: … What I’m fighting for are simple principles: Live within our means, stop bankrupting our kids and grandkids, follow the Constitution.
STEPHEN COLBERT: And no gay marriage. And no gay marriage.
CRUZ: Well, no, actually, let’s be precise. Under the Constitution, marriage is a question for the states. If you want to change the marriage laws —
COLBERT: It doesn’t mention marriage in the Constitution.
CRUZ: We have had a country for over 200 years –
COLBERT: So, you may be right, it doesn’t mention marriage in the Constitution. You believe that marriage –
CRUZ: That’s exactly why it’s a question for the states, because the Tenth Amendment says, if it doesn’t mention it, it’s a question for the states. That’s in the Bill of Rights. Everything that is not mentioned is left to the states. So if you want to change the marriage laws –
COLBERT: I’m asking what you want.
CRUZ: I believe in democracy. I believe in democracy and I don’t think we should trust –
COLBERT: No, no, guys, guys, whatever you feel, he’s my guest, so please don’t boo him.
CRUZ: I don’t think we should trust governing our society to five unelected lawyers in Washington. Why would you possibly hand over the rights of 320 million to five lawyers in Washington to say, ‘We’re gonna decide the rules that govern you.’ If you want to win an issue, go to the ballot box and win at the ballot box. That’s the way the Constitution was designed.
COLBERT: Well, Senator Cruz, I really appreciated your sharing your views with us and good luck with the campaign.
Thomas Valentine is a researcher for APIA and a junior at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.