Freshman Texas Senator Ted Cruz is one of the standouts among recently elected Republicans. I met him once back in the 1990s when he was a Supreme Court clerk for Chief Justice Rehnquist; we engaged in a good natured argument over some quirks in Rehnquist’s jurisprudence, and I came away very impressed and was not surprised that Cruz subsequently rose fast in the ranks of Texas politics. Thus I was overjoyed that he defeated Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for the Republican nomination, having experienced the unpleasant and hackish Dewhurst a couple times in Austin.
So it is with some dismay that I caught Senator Cruz’s comment at the National Review summit over the weekend that “We must view everything through a Rawlsian lens, how it impacts those at the bottom.” Cruz is referring here to John Rawls and his famous book A Theory of Justice, which I discussed here on Power Line last month. While it is sensible to reflect policy through the prism of how it affects the least among us (good politics and good morals), it is a mistake for conservatives to offer public validation for Rawls, whose thesis is the ur-text for the redistributive Left. I know there are some efforts to reconcile Rawls with conservative thought, most notably Brown University’s John Tomasi, who attempts to fuse Rawls and Hayek in Free Market Fairness, but I think these efforts are unconvincing and highly unlikely to succeed.
But while we’re on the subject of Cruz, let’s also give him props where props are due. I’ve been meaning to note that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has turned his thuggish wandering eye to gun manufacturers, and is going so far as to threaten banks that do business with the gun trade. In the fashion of “hit back twice as hard,” Sen. Cruz has sent a letter to the same bank presidents and gun firm CEOs telling them not to give in to Emanuel’s bullying, and chastising Emanuel along the way. I like this line to the gun companies: “Should Mayor Emanuel’s bullying campaign prove successful, I am confident that there are numerous financial institutions in Texas that would be eager to earn your business.” Heh.