Loathsome Ted’s Record Before the Supreme(s)

Cruz Kittie CrusherAs Texas’s solicitor general, Ted Cruz would routinely pump up before arguing a conservative case before the US Supreme Court

In Loathsome Cruz, we detailed how Senator Ted earned the ire of his Congressional colleagues, the highlight being his success in shutting down the US government in 2013 because Congress wouldn’t let him deprive millions of people of medical care. Here we continue our investigation of why he inspires a more general loathsomeness among all but his most dedicated followers. The answer might just be: Time Travel!  The thesis is this: Someone has invented a two-seater time machine, traveled back into the past, to either the time of the Spanish Inquisition or the Salem witch trials, and brought forward their chief prosecutor.

As evidence, consider the following. One of Cruz’s claim to fame is his nine appearances before the US Supreme Court. An impressive attendance record by most standards.  But where, pray tell, did he acquire such capacity? Sure, sure, he graduated from Harvard Law School, but that is exactly what one would expect from a clever cover story.

While the evidence is circumstantial, consider the modus operandi used in a similar case: the alleged US birth certificate of the secret Kenyan Muslim socialist usurper: Barack Hussein Obama. I speak, of course, of the trans-temporal legerdemain that enabled Osama’s mother to fake the true circumstances of his birth by traveling back in time to record it in not one, but two, Honolulu newspapers.

Sadly, the two investigators that Donald Drumpf hired to prove that President Obama was born in Kenya, who might have shed light on the techniques of atemporal evidence tampering, were killed in a bar fight in Waikiki by the investigators that O.J. Simpson hired to find his wife’s murderer. (Comparative dick measuring, especially among professionals sharing the same trade can, on occasion, result in a violent end, especially when multiple rounds of mai tais are involved.)

Without proof of Ted’s presence in centuries past, we must rely on the record of the present to prove that he is a transcendent asshole. So without further ado, let us proceed to an examination of his record before the US Supreme Court (aka the Supremes) to determine what they reveal about his personality, and more important, his judicial philosophy.

Consider Cruz’s reputed legal skills. A pro-Ted super PAC, Keep the Promise, ran an ad touting his bona fides:

This year, you will have a choice to make. Will the next president pick a Supreme Court judge who will defend the Constitution? Only one candidate has what it takes because he not only knows the Constitution, he’s defended it. Ted Cruz argued nine cases in front of the Supreme Court, and won.

This last statement is in total keeping with Lyin’ Ted’s general sleazy approach to the truth. In point of fact, though he clearly won two of his cases,  he clearly lost four. The other three were mixed, according to Factcheck.org who analyzed and summarized all his cases. (See below.) If a major league baseball pitcher had that kind of average, he’d be lucky to be demoted to just the farm team, if not banished from the game altogether.

But is his failure rate all his fault?  (Cue Sympathy for the Devil.) Answer: No. He definitely had help, from then attorney general and now governor of Texas, Greg Abbott. Abbott selected the cases, and Cruz happily prosecuted them.

Selection plays a key role in any success rate. Why do prosecutors or even surgeons have such high success rates in their respective fields? Because of the cases they choose to prosecute or operate on. US prosecutors in general have a 90% plus success rate (93% in 2011) , Japanese prosecutors closer to 99%. But what were the selection parameters that caused Cruz to wrack up such a comparatively poor record? The answer can be found in the pages of the Texas Tribune, which reports (emphasis mine):

Cruz worked on so many high-profile cases because he and his former boss, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, set out to engage in politically charged issues.

“We ended up year after year arguing some of the biggest cases in the country,” Cruz said. “There was a degree of serendipity in that, but there was also a concerted effort to seek out and lead conservative fights.”…

By exclusively  arguing cases that they believed advanced the conservative agenda, Cruz’s success rate suffered accordingly. But that means little to devoted ideologues.

Welcome to “judicial activism,” or in this case, a variant and precursor thereof. If there is any doubt that judicial activism, the bete noire of conservatives, is anything but their projection aimed at liberal and progressive politicians, then one need only consider its living, walking, talking embodiment — Ted Cruz.

Some snapshots that reveal the odor of the man:

  1. Dretke v. Haley (2004) Michael Haley was convicted of stealing a calculator at a Wal-Mart. Normally, the maximum sentence for the crime, a misdemeanor, was two-years. However, the court determined, erroneously, that he should be sentenced under the state’s habitual offender law, and was imprisoned for 16 years. (Ever heard of private, for-profit prisons? They love this kind of stuff.) When the error was discovered a few years later, Haley petitioned the court for release and it was granted. Enter Darth Cruz who appealed the ruling, arguing that the time for such an appeal had passed, and the case ended up before the Supremes.  Even though Cruz admitted the original sentence was wrong, aka an injustice, he succeeded on procedural grounds by further arguing that the case would set a dangerous precedent by allowing the wrongly sentenced to find justice before the courts.
  2. Frew v. Hawkins (2003) involved the violation of a consent decree over Medicaid funding that the state of Texas had originally agreed. Cruz argued the 11th Amendment guaranteed the state had the right to deprive poor children of sufficient medical care. He lost unanimously.
  3. League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry (2006) involved a voter suppression effort on the part of Texas state legislature to marginalize Latino voters.
  4. Smith v. Texas (2007) involved the death sentence for a man with an IQ of 76 (a bit lower than a former Texas governor, George W. Bush). Cruz argued the fact that the jury was never instructed about the man’s mental incapacity was harmless error.

But a larger issue looms, perhaps the biggest that will face voters in the general election: Who is going to appoint the next one, two, or three Supreme Court justices? The ideological bent of the court, in place for the last 30 years or so, has been decidedly conservative. With the death of the court’s most outspoken, activist conservative, Antoin Scalia, the court is now evenly divided between conservatives and moderates.

Anyone on the Democratic/Progressive side of the aisle contemplating withholding their vote because their candidate failed to be nominated should think long and hard about that.

The karma principle of causality continuity is, again, very close to the truth of the repercussional synthesis of all time-space actions in the Deity presence of the Supreme…

-The Urantia Book


Factcheck.org’s summary of cases Cruz argued before the Supremes.

Cruz’s First Appearance

The most lopsided loss came in Cruz’s first argument before the Supreme Court in October 2003. It was a case called Frew v. Hawkins, and involved a states’ rights issue and Medicaid funding. In 1996, Texas reached a settlement — via consent decree — in a class-action lawsuit against the Texas Health and Human Services Commission over allegations that the state failed to improve health care to poor children per Medicaid requirements. The plaintiffs later argued, however, that the state was not living up to its legal commitment. Cruz argued the state was not bound by the consent decree because of state sovereignty rights afforded by the 11th Amendment.

In his book, “A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America,” Cruz wrote that while he quietly harbored doubts about winning the case, he went into oral arguments feeling confident.

Things did not go well for Cruz, who wrote, “For my thirty minutes in Frew, there was not a single friendly question directed toward me. The justices were ripping me limb from limb. I felt like a chunk of tuna thrown to a school of sharks.”

One of the justices asking pointed questions was Scalia, who pointed out that Texas’ own attorney general was the one who agreed to the consent decree. “Why isn’t that the end of the case?” Scalia asked.

The ensuing ruling in favor of the plaintiffs was unanimous. Among that unanimous group was then Chief Justice William Rehnquist, for whom Cruz had years before served as a law clerk.

Cruz wrote that Rehnquist later joked with him about it. “Well, they say that with your first argument, you should pick a case you can’t lose or you can’t win,” Cruz recalled Rehnquist telling him, with a  smile. “Ted … I think you chose wisely.”

Verdict: A loss.

The Stolen Calculator Case

Cruz’s second trip to the Supreme Court went a bit better, but was short of a full victory. The 2004 case, Dretke v. Haley, involved a man, Michael Haley, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison for stealing a calculator from a Texas Wal-Mart.

Although the crime was a misdemeanor that carried a maximum two-year sentence, Haley was charged under the state’s “habitual offender” law due to prior offenses — and that resulted in the longer prison sentence. Several years later, however, a new lawyer discovered that Haley’s criminal record did not meet the standards required to charge someone as a habitual offender.

On behalf of the state, Cruz argued that Haley had waited too long to contest the error.

”You’ve conceded that this sentence is unlawful?” Justice Anthony Kennedy asked during oral arguments.

Cruz said yes.

“Well then, why are you here? Is there some rule that you can’t confess error in your state?” Kennedy asked.

No, Cruz responded, saying that the state was concerned about the precedent it would set for other cases.

“Well, so a man does 15 years so you can vindicate your legal point in some other case?” Kennedy continued. “I just don’t understand why you don’t dismiss this case and move to lower the sentence.”

According to the Texas Tribune, Cruz sensed he did not have the votes to win the case, and switched strategies. Rather than asking the court to back the state’s position, he asked the justices to remand the case back to a lower court. That’s what happened, and Haley was sentenced to time served, meaning he did not have to go back to prison.

“I would regularly talk to my students about the Haley case as a good example of how an advocate can rescue victory from the jaws of defeat,” Cruz said in 2012.

Verdict: Mixed.

The Medellin Case I & II

Cruz twice argued in front of the Supreme Court in cases concerning Jose Medellin, a Mexican citizen convicted of the rape and murder of two girls, ages 14 and 16, in 1993. Years after his conviction, the International Court of Justice raised the issue that Medellin and others were entitled to the counsel of Mexican diplomats at the time of their arrests, per the Vienna Convention treaty. Even President George W. Bush issued a memo directing states to comply with the International Court of Justice and state courts to review the cases of Mexicans facing the death penalty.

In 2005, the court ruled 5-4 that Medellin had not exhausted his state court appeals, and it sent the case back to a Texas state court. The case came back to the Supreme Court, and in 2007 Cruz again argued on behalf of the state. In a 6-3 decision in 2008, the court sided with Cruz and concluded that the treaty was not binding upon state courts until the treaty is enacted into law by Congress.

Cruz called it, “By any measure the biggest case of my tenure as solicitor general.”

Verdict: A win.

 Redistricting Case

Another case with mixed results, League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, came in 2006. The case involved redistricting maps approved by the Republican-controlled state Legislature in 2003. Opponents argued the maps were drawn in a partisan way that violated the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act, resulting in the disenfranchisement of minority voters.

Cruz argued that the framers of the Constitution knew full well that politicians would make political decisions regarding redistricting, and so he argued that those decisions should be left to elected legislatures, not unelected federal judges.

“In other words, of course the legislators who had redrawn Texas’ congressional districts had been political, but there was nothing unconstitutional or illegal about politicians being political,” Cruz wrote in “A Time for Truth.”

Cruz boasted in the book that “[u]ltimately, our argument prevailed.” And, in fact the Supreme Court voted 5-4 that the redistricting plan did not violate the Constitution. However, the court also ruled that one of the districts in the map did violate the federal Voting Rights Act. Bottom line, the state had to redraw the boundaries of that district — a large one — but did not have to redraw the entire map.

Verdict: Mixed.

Death Sentence for Man with Low IQ

The case of Smith v. Texas in 2007 was over the propriety of a death sentence for LaRoyce Smith, who was convicted in the 1991 shooting and stabbing of a 19-year-old woman. The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to set aside Smith’s death sentence — though not the conviction —  because the jury was not given an opportunity to consider his low IQ of 78. In 2008, Smith agreed to a sentence of life in prison.

Verdict: Loss.

Death Penalty for Mentally Ill

This was another death penalty case involving a man who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, Scott Panetti, who was convicted of killing his wife’s parents in 1992. The court was asked to consider whether the state could execute someone who was so mentally ill that he lacked a rational understanding of why he was being executed.

While Cruz argued that Panetti was rational enough to understand that he committed two murders, Justice Kennedy responded, “That’s different from having a rational capacity to understand the nature and justification for the punishment.”

Cruz lost this one in another 5-4 decision, with the court ruling that Panetti could not be executed because he lacked the ability to comprehend his death sentence. The case was sent back to a lower court in Texas to reassess Panetti’s mental state. He remains on death row.

Verdict: Loss.

Death Penalty for a Child Rapist

This was actually a Louisiana case involving the death penalty for a man, Patrick Kennedy, convicted of the 1998 rape of his 8-year-old stepdaughter. At issue was whether it was constitutional to extend the death penalty beyond just murder cases, to include child rapists. Cruz argued in support of the state of Louisiana on behalf of Texas and other states that had similar laws. The court ruled 5-4 against Louisiana, finding that the death penalty for raping a child violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Verdict: Loss.

Patent Dispute

This was the lone case Cruz argued as a private lawyer, for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, and it involved a patent infringement case, Global-Tech Appliances v. SEB S.A, related to a deep fryer. Cruz argued in 2011 on behalf of his firm’s client, SEB S.A., that a subsidiary of Global-Tech had violated SEB’s patent. The legal issues in the case were more complex than a simple patent infringement, but the important thing for our purposes is to note that the court voted 8-1 in favor of Cruz’s client.

Verdict: A win.

Cruz’s Supreme Court record doesn’t support the ad’s implication that he “won” the nine cases he argued before the court. Cruz had clear victories in only two.






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