Young Mr. Cruz of Texas

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 25 2013 9:31 AM

Young Mr. Cruz of Texas

150946525
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks at the Patriots for Romney-Ryan reception on August 29, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

For a new story, I went back through the transcripts of Ted Cruz's Supreme Court battles. For most of the aughts, Cruz was Texas's chief lawyer, and his wins in that job formed the narrative of his Senate campaign. Cruz reminded crowds that he "fought the U.N. and won" by getting SCOTUS to agree that the Geneva Convention didn't apply to foreign nationals wanting to wriggle out of death sentences. My basic finding: The manichean, listen-to-the-founders approach that does Cruz such good in the political arena often failed in court.

Frew v. Hawkins, for example, was a disaster for Cruz. The state had given him a weak case: It was arguing that federal requirements for improving health care didn’t apply to Texas, because of state sovereignty guaranteed by the 11th Amendment. Cruz’s own arguments foreshadowed some of the theories that would become conservative gospel in the Obama years. In 2004, they were met with a wall of laughter.
“I will point out if signing a consent decree is a waiver of 11th Amendment immunity or sovereign immunity, then plaintiffs' argument proves too much,” said Cruz. “It means every consent decree is utterly immune from Ex Parte Young. It means once a consent decree is there, the requirements of Federal law don't matter.”
“Only with the state attorney general,” joked Antonin Scalia.
Advertisement

Keep on reading. Cruz is undeniably smart and a first-class rhetorician, but there's a lesson here about what works in political coverage and what works when the people making decisions are clued in to the precedents. Doesn't speak particularly well of the media.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 2 2014 6:00 AM Can’t Stomach It I was shamed for getting gastric bypass surgery. Should I keep the procedure a secret?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?