Culture

Did Ted Cruz Actually Try To Ban The Sale Of ‘Sexual Devices’ In Texas?

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Before real-life Newman Ted Cruz launched himself into the 2016 presidential election, the junior Republican senator from Texas got his start as the state’s Solicitor General per an appointment by then-Attorney General Greg Abbott. The budding politician did many things to advance his career with the role, but perhaps the most interesting was the ’92 Princeton alum repeated attempts to uphold a state law that criminalized the promotion and sale of “sexual devices.”

According to Mother Jones, Reliable Consultants v. Earle was settled in favor of the plaintiffs in the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 12, 2008. It involved the named company, which did business as “Dreamer’s and Le Rouge Boutique,” and a second plaintiff trying to strike down a state law that banned the commercial sale of “obscene devices.” The initial case was thrown out on the grounds that the 14th Amendment and the right to privacy didn’t protect sex toys.

The plaintiffs appealed the ruling, and that’s when Cruz’s Solicitor General office got involved in the process. They filed a ridiculously-long 76-page brief defending the law and the court’s decision:

The Texas Penal Code prohibits the advertisement and sale of dildos, artificial vaginas, and other obscene devices” but does not “forbid the private use of such devices.

In turn, Reliable Consultants et al. denied the brief’s arguments:

The plaintiffs had argued that this case was similar to Lawrence v. Texas, the landmark 2003 Supreme Court decision that struck down Texas’ law against sodomy.

Cruz and his team disagreed, unsurprisingly:

Cruz’s office countered that Lawrence “focused on interpersonal relationships and the privacy of the home” and that the law being challenged did not block the “private use of obscene devices.” Cruz’s legal team asserted that “obscene devices do not implicate any liberty interest.” And its brief added that “any alleged right associated with obscene devices” is not “deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions.”

The Fifth Circuit ruled 2-1 against the law, citing Lawrence and argued that “Whatever one might think or believe about the use of these devices, government interference with their personal and private use violates the Constitution.” As a result, the law was overturned and became a widely-reported story at the time. So the Texas Solicitor General did what any good appointed lawyer would do and, with Abbott’s blessing, file a brief requesting that the entire court of appeals hear the case.

Despite Cruz’s gusto, the court decided against hearing the case again and referred to the Fifth Circuit’s decision. His office no longer had the legal power to pursue the matter any further, lest he, Abbott, and those who wanted the law on the books decided to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court. This possibility was suggested in an email Mother Jones recovered that Cruz had received and forwarded to another lawyer:

It included… a sympathetic note from William Thro, then the solicitor general of Virginia. “Having had the experience of answering questions about oral sex from a female State Supreme Court Justice who is also a grandmother,” Thro wrote Cruz, “you have my sympathy. :-) Seriously, if you do go for cert [with the Supreme Court] and if we can help, let me know.”

Despite the offer of support from Thro, who now serves as General Counsel for the University of Kentucky, no one in Cruz’s office ever took the case beyond the Fifth Circuit.

In a fitting epilogue to the renewed interest in Cruz’s apparent quest against sex toys in Texas, the senator’s roommate from Freshman year at Princeton, screenwriter Craig Mazin, offered his 140 characters’ worth on Twitter.

Mazin is no stranger to Cruz, as the writer of such modern classics as The Hangover II and The Hangover III has spoken out against his former collegiate associate many times. So it’s safe to say that he used to know the presidential contender quite well. (Or as well as anyone who lives with another person in college can come to know them.) Which means that, as the writer jokes, he was privy to the young Ted Cruz’s personal stimulation.

(Via Mother Jones)

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