More than 900 Harvard Law School affiliates signed a statement denouncing Sen. Ted Cruz — a Republican from Texas who graduated from the Law School in 1995 — for contesting the results of the recent presidential election.
In the months since President-elect Joe R. Biden defeated President Donald J. Trump, the Justice Department discovered no instances of widespread voter fraud. Nonetheless, Trump and his allies have continued to falsely claim that he won the election, including in dozens of failed lawsuits.
On Jan. 2, Cruz and 10 other Senate Republicans announced their intent to object to the certification of some votes in the Electoral College, calling for an “emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states.”
The Law School statement condemns Cruz for the objection, stating that his “false claims of voter fraud” and his choice to contest votes are “utterly inconsistent” with his oath of office.
“We, the undersigned members of the Harvard Law School community, unequivocally condemn the attempt of fellow graduate Ted Cruz ’95 and any of his supporters to undermine democracy and our Constitution by improperly challenging the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice-President of the United States,” it reads.
Christopher M. “Chris” Kelly — a former policy advisor to President Bill Clinton and a 1997 Law School graduate — collaborated with fellow HLS alums Marvin Ammori and Katie “Kathryn” Biber to write the statement. Kelly said the influence of institutions such as Harvard Law inspired him to develop and circulate the petition.
“I think that graduates of law schools where the law has been made for years and where the Constitution is supposed to be respected needed to step forward and say, unequivocally, that this is a violation of constitutional oath, and it needs to be, at the very least, actively censured, called out,” he said.
Kelly wrote and circulated the statement prior to Jan. 6 — the date of the formal certification of Electoral College votes and the planned objection from Republicans like Cruz. Hundreds of affiliates signed on before that day.
On Jan. 6, while Congress carried out the vote, hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. The attack forced lawmakers to flee their chambers and left five dead.
Cruz condemned the violence on Capitol Hill, calling the events a “despicable act of terrorism and a shocking assault on our democratic system” in a Jan. 7 tweet.
Nonetheless, Kelly said he believes Cruz and fellow Sen. Josh D. Hawley (R-Mo.) should be expelled from office for complicity in fomenting violence.
“After Wednesday, I think that the only acceptable result of this — for Senator Cruz and for Senator Hawley, in particular — is expulsion from the Senate,” Kelly said. “The 14th Amendment contemplates that with a two-thirds vote, and I hope and expect that there will be a vote on that in the coming weeks.”
Law School professor Michael J. Klarman also condemned Cruz and Hawley in an email to The Crimson, characterizing their contention of electoral votes as “an attempted coup against democracy, just as was the simultaneous storming of the Capitol by a Trump-incited mob.”
“Both were the logical culmination of the Republican Party’s two-decades-long assault upon democracy and of the big lie of voter fraud propagated by GOP leaders and the right-wing media ecosystem,” Klarman wrote.
A spokesperson for Cruz declined to comment; a Hawley spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
San Jose, Calif. Mayor Sam T. Liccardo, a Law School graduate and signatory of the statement, said he hopes the petition encourages Cruz to reflect on how his actions may have led to the riot.
“I certainly hope that Senator Cruz is taking some time to reflect on how his conduct may have intentionally or unintentionally led to this result,” he said.
Anthony Arnold ’04, who also signed the statement, said he found Cruz’s actions particularly disappointing given his status as a fellow alum of the Law School.
“Someone who has training from a prestigious institution like Harvard Law School shouldn’t be lending that prestige — or that kind of stamp, or imprimatur of credibility — to something like an insurrection and something like a coup of our government,” he said.
Anthony O. Pergola Jr., a former Law School classmate of Cruz, wrote in an email that he signed the statement because he felt a “personal responsibility” to “implore Ted to choose integrity over his unbridled ambition.”
—Staff writer Emmy M. Cho can be reached at email@example.com.
—Staff writer Isabella B. Cho can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @izbcho.