Sen. Ted Cruz argued that “Stand Your Ground” laws actually benefit African-Americans at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday morning, and accused public leaders of exploiting Trayvon Martin’s death to inflame racial tensions.
Cruz tussled with the subcommittee’s chairman Dick Durbin, arguing that “the notion that Stand Your Ground laws are some form of veiled racism may be a convenient political attack, but it is not borne out by fact remotely.”
“It is always a tragedy when a child loses his life, and please know that we are all feeling your loss,” he said, directing his comments to Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton and mother of fellow slain Florida teen Jordan Davis, Lucia McBath.
“Sadly, we know that some in our political process have a desire to exploit that tragic violent incident for agendas that have nothing to do with that young man who lost his life,” he said. “We have seen efforts to undermine the verdict of the jury and more broadly to inflame racial tensions that I think are sad and irresponsible.”
“I recognize that for the family you’re simply mourning the loss of your son, and I understand that,” he added. “But there are other players who are seeking to do a great deal more, based on what happened that Florida night.”
Cruz argued that while the Trayvon Martin case came up repeatedly during the hearing, Stand Your Ground was “not a defense that [George] Zimmerman raised.” Zimmerman’s legal team never sought immunity under the Stand Your Ground law, but language from that law was included in the jury instructions.
“The notion that Stand Your Ground laws are some form of veiled racism may be a convenient political attack, but it is not born out by the facts, remotely,” he added, noting that President Obama supported an expansion of a similar law when he was a lawmaker in Illinois. As has been pointed out in the past, the law Obama supported in 2004 is not as permissive as Stand Your Ground laws typically are, and notably does not permit the use of “deadly force” as Stand Your Ground does in Florida.