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Ted Cruz once said he would've nominated the conservative judge testifying against Trump before the Jan. 6 committee to the Supreme Court

Business Insider logo Business Insider 6/16/2022 bmetzger@insider.com (Bryan Metzger)
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and retired Judge Michael Luttig. AP Photos/Manuel Balce Ceneta and Susan Walsh © AP Photos/Manuel Balce Ceneta and Susan Walsh Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and retired Judge Michael Luttig. AP Photos/Manuel Balce Ceneta and Susan Walsh
  • Luttig, who advised Pence about counting electoral votes, is testifying before the Jan. 6 committee.
  • He said that if Pence had overturned the election, it would've caused a "revolution within a paralyzing constitutional crisis."
  • Cruz, who voted to reject the 2020 election results in two states, has said Luttig is "like a father to me."

Retired conservative federal Judge Michael Luttig, a key witness in Thursday's January 6 committee hearing, was once named by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas as an ideal Supreme Court nominee.

It shows just how much former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results has divided the conservative legal world.

Luttig, who became an informal advisor to Vice President Mike Pence ahead of his role presiding over a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021, told the committee on Thursday that legal theories pushed by Trump lawyer John Eastman to overturn the 2020 election results would've "plunged America" into "the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the republic."

"Had the Vice President of the United States obeyed the President of the United States, America would immediately have been plunged into what would have been tantamount to a revolution within a paralyzing constitutional crisis," Luttig said in written testimony submitted to the committee. "Almost two years thence, one of America's two political parties cannot even agree whether that day was good or bad, right or wrong."

Cruz, one of six Republican senators who voted to reject state-certified election results on January 6, served as a law clerk for Luttig on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and has described him as a mentor. According to the New York Times, Cruz has even said Luttig is "like a father to me."

And during a debate against Trump in 2016, Cruz declared that he would've nominated Luttig to the Supreme Court instead of Chief Justice John Roberts.


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"I would not have nominated John Roberts," Cruz said, according to Mediaite. "I would not have nominated him. I would have nominated my former boss Mike Luttig, who was Justice Scalia's law clerk."

Luttig, who served on the Fourth Circuit in Virginia for 15 years, was once on President George W. Bush's shortlist to be appointed to the Supreme Court. The 2005 nomination went instead to now-Justice Samuel Alito.

Luttig has since publicly distanced himself from Cruz, criticizing the senator for seeking to do Trump's "bidding" by voting to reject the electoral college results in Pennsylvania and Arizona on January 6, 2021.

"After the 2020 election, Republican senators like Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri tried to capitalize on those ambiguities in the law to do Mr. Trump's bidding, mounting a case for overturning the results in some Biden-won states on little more than a wish," he wrote in a February op-ed in The New York Times.

"Looking ahead to the next presidential election, Mr. Trump is once again counting on a sympathetic and malleable Congress and willing states to use the Electoral Count Act to his advantage," he wrote.

Luttig also criticized Cruz on Twitter in April for saying that now-Associate Justice-designate Ketanji Brown Jackson would be the "most extreme and the furthest left justice" ever appointed to the high court.

But even after former Attorney General Bill Barr described Trump's claims of a stolen 2020 election as "bullshit," in video testimony released by the January 6 committee, Cruz has stood firm.

"Do [I] have any regrets over fighting to enhance voter integrity and protect our democracy? No, I do not have regrets over fighting to defend our democracy," he told the Huffington Post on Wednesday.

Cruz's office did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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