I keep hearing about Ted Cruz and the nine times he argued before the Supreme Court. But I hear absolutely nothing about his record before the highest court in the land. And while arguing before the Supreme Court has to be one of the greatest honors in any Attorney’s career, Cruz was the Solicitor General of Texas. And that office exists to argue cases before the Supreme Court. So his job saw him visit the Supreme Court 9 times over 5 years.
As you will see below, there were really only 8 cases. One of the cases was sent back to the lower courts and later returned to SCOTUS where they finally ruled. And Cruz has shown he has an interesting way of spinning things, like 3 consecutive 3rd place finishes in the Primary proves he is the ONLY candidate that can beat Donald Trump.
But before SCOTUS you either win or lose. And how I judge this is based on how Cruz did on his arguments.
So here are his cases and a brief summary of each.
Medicaid funding – Frew v. Hawkins Oct. 7, 2003
This was Cruz first case before the Supreme Court.
Texas settled a class action lawsuit where the plaintiffs claimed that the state was not doing enough under Medicaid to adequately provide health care for children. Texas agreed to remedy the situation and settled the lawsuit. The state, according to the complaint, then failed to live up to it’s agreement and do more for medicaid children’s health care. So, essentially Cruz went to the Supreme Court to argue in favor of the inadequate care children were receiving in Texas. Not really an enviable position to be in, and a case that was probably doomed from the get go because Texas had agreed and then failed to fix the problem.
SCOTUS handed Cruz his butt on this one and he walked out of his first Supreme Court case with a unanimous decision against Cruz.
Sentencing error – Dretke v. Haley March 2, 2004
Cruz second case involved a guy that stole a calculator from a Texas Wal-Mart. So one might wonder how a simple case of shoplifting might end up before the Supreme Court. Well, the shoplifter got a whopping 14 years in jail for the theft. Now stealing is wrong, but 14 years? And there was no other crime involved.
So off Ted Cruz goes to the Supreme Court to try to justify a 14 year sentence for stealing a calculator.
Cruz could tell that he was going to lose and rather than suffer another loss, he changed his argument from justifying a 14 year sentence for a calculator and convinced the court to send the case back to Texas where they could save face and remedy the situation.
So back in the lower Texas court, the sentence was commuted to time already served. Cruz failed to defend the Texas case in the SCOTUS and the “calculator bandit” who had already been released won his effort to overturn the unreasonable sentence.
Somehow, Ted Cruz counts this as a win. But that is nothing but spin. This was a loss, plain and simple.
U.S. sovereignty – Medellín v. Dretke March 28, 2005 – Medellín v. Texas Oct. 10, 2007
This is a case that went to the Supreme Court twice. The first trip, SCOTUS sent it back to the lower court and the second time, the court ruled in favor of Cruz arguments.
A really bad guy who was a Mexican citizen raped and murdered two girls, one 14 and one 16. He was sentenced to death. The Mexican’s lawyers insisted that their client was not advised of his right to notify the Mexican diplomats according to a 1963 Vienna Convention treaty. George W. Bush initiated a review of Mexicans on death row based on a ruling from the International Court of Justice who ruled that the US was not in compliance with the treaty.
Cruz argued that since this was not brought up until years later, it was too late for the convicted killer to bring up. The first time this went before the court, Cruz did not win the argument and the case was sent back to the Texas courts. Which would not be a win for Cruz. But the second time this case went before SCOTUS, it was decided that the US Government could not enforce a treaty that had not been made into law by congress on the states.
This was an important case and Ted Cruz got a 6-3 decision the second time. One could argue that with the first case being a loss – Cruz did not prevail – would make this ruling a draw, but I consider it a win (and a big one) but it is essentially a continuation and the culmination of the first time this came before the Supremes. So one case, not two. A win, not a draw.
Redistricting – League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry March 1, 2006
Texas redrew their voting maps in 2003 and the Republican majority was accused of gerrymandering and diluting the votes of minorities. (A case very similar to the one that forced Virginia to redraw their congressional lines this year. The court ruled 5-4 that the map violated the Voting Rights Act. Cruz spins this as a win because SCOTUS found that the entire map did not violate the Constitution and only the gerrymandered districts did. And these districts must be redrawn – pretty much what the recent Virginia decision said. Still, Texas violated the Voting Rights Act and the lines were ordered to be redrawn. This is a loss for Cruz.
Sentencing error – Smith v. Texas Jan. 17, 2007
A man with a low IQ robbed and stabbed a co-worker at a Texas Taco Bell. He received the death penalty but the jury was not advised of his mental deficiency. Cruz lost this case and SCOTUS set aside the death penalty sentence.
Death penalty for mentally ill – Panetti v. Quarterman April 18, 2007
This case was pretty similar to the previous case Cruz unsuccessfully argued 90 days earlier. This time, instead of a low IQ the guy had a mental illness and was unable to understand he was being sentenced to death. Cruz argued that the guy could be faking it. the justices didn’t buy that and handed Cruz another defeat.
Death Penalty for Child Rapists – Kennedy v. Louisiana April 16, 2008
I really can’t think of a crime more heinous than raping a child, aside from murdering one. Texas decided to put child rapists to death. But absent killing someone, child or not, is the death penalty appropriate? Where do we draw the line at Cruel and Unusual punishment? The Supreme Court ruled that this is where we draw the line. Cruz lost.
Patent infringement – Global-Tech Appliances v. SEB S.A. Feb. 23, 2011
Cruz last case before the Supreme Court was a win, and his most decisive win at 8-1. Not as decisive as his 9-0 loss in his first case, but an impressive win if you are a fan of deep fat fryers. It seems a Hong Kong company reverse engineered a deep fat fryer patented by a French company. In a striking blow for freedom and liberty, Cruz won his last case as the courts ruled you can’t copy someone else’s deep fat fryer.
Two wins, 6 losses.
The win Cruz had in the Treaty case was an important one and I won’t take anything away from him for that.
But I now see why the Cruz supporters gleefully proclaim Cruz argued 9 cases in front of the Supreme Court, but stop short of actually telling anyone about the cases. Color me underwhelmed. All I see is one victory, 6 losses and a lot of spin.
Article written by: Tom White