Appellate Practice

Cruz lost his first SCOTUS case 9-0 as Texas solicitor general, but won significant victories later

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Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz. Rich Koele /

In his first U.S. Supreme Court case as Texas solicitor general, Ted Cruz advanced a state’s rights argument and lost in a unanimous decision.

Cruz was arguing that Texas has the constitutional authority to ignore a settlement in a federal lawsuit accusing the state of violating federal Medicaid requirements, the New York Times reports. It didn’t go well. Cruz later wrote that the justices “were ripping me limb from limb” during oral arguments in the case.

But Cruz improved as he argued eight more cases before the Supreme Court. “As time went on, he grew more polished and won significant victories,” the article reports.

Cruz has made the Supreme Court an issue in his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination. He has criticized judicial activism and accused the court of “lawlessness.”

Cruz assesses one win as “profound.” It came in a 2008 case, Medellin v. Texas, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled President George W. Bush didn’t have the authority to order Texas courts to carry out an international court decision regarding death-row inmates from Mexico.

The international court had ordered review of claims by the inmates that they weren’t allowed to consult with consular officials as required by the Vienna Convention. Bush instructed states to follow the ruling, but Texas refused.

Cruz “gave a polished and confident argument in the Supreme Court in the Medellin case,” the New York Times writes, “and he won, 6 to 3. The case is taught in law schools and featured in Mr. Cruz’s campaign ads.”

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