The fact-checking website PolitiFact has come under scrutiny for maintaining that Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) made a “false” statement about the ability to arrest runaway Texas legislators, even after the Texas Supreme Court, per Cruz, “agreed.” The website appeared to seize on one word the senator uttered in order to cast doubt on the underlying facts.
“There is clear legal authority to handcuff and put in leg irons legislators that are trying to stop the legislature from being able to do business,” Senator Cruz told USA Today after dozens of Democratic lawmakers fled the state last month to deny Republicans a quorum to pass an election integrity bill. Several members subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.
Cruz said the issue had come before him during his tenure as the state’s Solicitor General (2003 to 2008).
PolitiFact agrees that the Texas state constitution declares, “Two-thirds of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may … compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as each House may provide” (Article III, Sec. 10).
The website also concedes that the rules of the state House of Representatives say, “All absentees for whom no sufficient excuse is made may, by order of a majority of those present, be sent for and arrested, wherever they may be found.” (Rule 5, Sec. 8.)
But PolitiFact rated Cruz’s statement “False,” because Cruz said the arrest power was “clear,” when his “interpretation of the constitution doesn’t appear to be shared by all.”
PolitiFact did not explain when it began demanding absolute unanimity to take sides on political issues.
“The reason why this question lacks clarity is because this hypothetical set of circumstances has no judicial precedent in Texas,” PolitiFact added. “There has been no judicial interpretation of enforcement of Rule 5, Sec. 8 of the House rulebook, and thus no existing authority on the matter in Texas.”
But the highest legal authority in the state has since settled the matter in favor of Cruz and against the website’s tendentious review. On Tuesday, the Texas Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling temporarily preventing the state’s Republican lawmakers from arresting the runaway Democrats and compelling them to fulfill their duties as elected officials. As The Daily Wire reported, on the same day, “Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) officially signed civil arrest warrants for 52 House Democrats who refused to show up for another special legislative session, thereby keeping the session from proceeding.”
On Thursday, the state’s law enforcement officers were deputized to execute those arrest warrants.
Legal scholar Jonathan Turley said the decision “has not only exposed the Democrats to arrest but it has exposed another claim of bias against the PolitiFact.”
Senator Cruz agreed, tweeting, “Yep. The Texas Supreme Court just agreed with me — unanimously. But, of course, PolitiFact still rules the claim ‘false.’ They have yet to issue a correction.”
Yep. The Texas Supreme Court just agreed with me—unanimously.
But, of course, PolitiFact still rules the claim “false.”
They have yet to issue a correction. https://t.co/TavqAguOwl
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) August 11, 2021
As of this writing, the PolitiFact article still calls Senator Cruz’s since-vindicated analysis “false.”
PolitiFact, which is now part of The Poynter Institute, has faced allegations of politically motivated fact-checking and special pleading on behalf of Democratic causes in the past. So many allegations piled up that in 2018, PolitiFact ran a story titled “PolitiFact is not biased — here’s why.”
But Senator Cruz’s office trusts the state supreme court — and his own exhaustive study of state and federal law — more than the website’s verdict.
“PolitiFact exists to carry water for the Democrat Party, so they’re not interested in the search for truth,” Cruz’s office told Fox News. “This is yet another example of Politifact getting it wrong in their shameless attempt to make excuses for Democrat lies, under the false pretense of confirming facts.”
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.