Ted Cruz, the Grandpa Munster of the Republican Party, recently published the standard book you’re supposed to publish when running for president. It’s called A Time for Truth (kinda like Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope, but for Tea Party idiots) and it includes some of his adventures during his time as Texas’ solicitor general, the legal council directly below the state’s attorney general. But as Mother Jones points out the book leaves out a very important story: his efforts to ban dildos in the Lone Star State.
You see, in 1973, Texas passed an odious “obscenity law” that prohibited the selling of dildos and artificial vaginas (aka. pocket pussies) “designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.” It also had provisions punishing anyone involved in an “obscene performance” (anything ranging from a porno to an overtly sexual stage play), or anyone who owned or made porn depicting someone who looked younger than 18 years old.
It was a bald-face means of policing sex and was used to justify raiding sex shops, punishing sex toy salespeople (listing them as sexual offenders on par with child molesters) and allowing lawyers to blackmail adulterers. In 2004, two Austin-based sex toy companies that challenged the law in court, saying that it violated the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment, the “Due Process Clause” that says laws shall not unduly “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law”.
The district court ruled in favor of the Texas law, and so the companies appealed. Here’s how Cruz and his brood fought to keep it on the books; take it away, Mother Jones:
In 2007, Cruz’s legal team, working on behalf of then-Attorney General Greg Abbott (who now is the governor), filed a 76-page brief calling on the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to uphold the lower court’s decision and permit the law [forbidding the sale and promotion of supposedly obscene devices] to stand…
The brief insisted that Texas, in order to protect “public morals,” had “police-power interests” in “discouraging prurient interests in sexual gratification, combating the commercial sale of sex, and protecting minors.” There was a “government” interest, it maintained, in “discouraging…autonomous sex.” The brief compared the use of sex toys to “hiring a willing prostitute or engaging in consensual bigamy,” and it equated advertising these products with the commercial promotion of prostitution. In perhaps the most noticeable line of the brief, Cruz’s office declared, “There is no substantive-due-process right to stimulate one’s genitals for non-medical purposes unrelated to procreation or outside of an interpersonal relationship.”
Luckily, in February 2008, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals told Cruz and his legal cronies to GTFO in a 2-1 decision that referenced Lawrence vs. Texas, the Supreme Court’s landmark 2013 ruling invalidating sodomy laws. The ruling stated that the government had no interest in discouraging masturbation and non-procreative sex, and that buying a dildo is NOT the same as hiring a sex worker. They said the law was “about controlling what people do in the privacy of their own homes because the State is morally opposed to a certain type of consensual private intimate conduct,” and, after Lawrence vs. Texas, such laws cannot stand.
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