In a speech today at the Federalist Society's National Lawyers Convention, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) attacked the Obama administration's record before the U.S. Supreme Court, characterizing the Justice Department's positions as "radical advocacy for unchecked federal authority."
Since the beginning of 2012, federal parties represented by the Department of Justice have lost nine unanimous cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. The unanimous losses are particularly telling because they are “not cases that are close,” Cruz said. “They are cases in which the U.S. Supreme Court – all of them – said that position is simply not right.”
According to Cruz, who headed Morgan Lewis & Bockius’s Supreme Court and appellate practice until his was elected to the Senate in 2012, the Obama administration is not pursuing “reasonable litigating positions within the bounds of ordinary discourse. These positions are extreme, and they are united by one thing: an embrace of unchecked federal government power.”
As an example, he pointed to U.S. v. Jones, which involved the government’s bid to place a GPS tracking device on a suspected drug dealer’s car without a warrant. “If the Obama Justice Department had prevailed, the federal government would be able to electronically track all of our movements,” he said. “Let me mention an aside. For those of you who have cell phones, please leave them on. I want to make sure President Obama hears everything I say.”
Cruz also mentioned Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, where he said the government sought to “dictate to church leaders who they chose as their ministers.” And he cited Sackett v. EPA, where property owners facing a potential Clean Water Act fine of $75,000 a day wanted to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s order, but the Justice Department said they lacked standing to make the first move.
“If the DOJ had won, the EPA would be in a position to extort settlements from anybody… you’re simply at the whim of unchecked government power,” Cruz said.
The standing-room only crowd in the Mayflower Hotel’s grand ballroom gave Cruz, who helped spearhead the government shutdown, two standing ovations and chuckled appreciatively at his quips.
A story about his daughters, who are 5 and 3, drew particularly hearty laughs. Cruz said the youngest, Catherine, announced she wanted to “work with Daddy” in the Senate when she grew up, only to be informed by her big sister Caroline that was “boring” and they’d form a rock band instead. “And then she threw in the zinger,” Cruz said. “She said, ‘Besides, Daddy will be dead by then.’….I have to admit, I kind of wondered if Caroline had been speaking with the Republican leadership.”