As Texas attorney general, it’s one of my duties to represent this great state before the U.S. Supreme Court. Now that the Court’s most recent term is in the books, I’m pleased to report that it was a banner year for Texas at the high court.
Texas participated in virtually every high-profile case, in a year full of blockbuster rulings. From redistricting to the travel ban, compelled union dues to respect for life and religious liberties, we defended the rule of law. And across the board, we prevailed.
Our long battle over redistricting ended in a major victory for self-government. The Constitution gives Texans, through their elected officials, the power to draw legislative districts. Last year, attorneys from my office showed at trial that the maps drawn for our state house and congressional districts comply with federal law. Inexplicably, the district court invalidated the maps for two of our congressional districts and multiple state house districts.
We appealed the case to the Supreme Court and won a nearly complete reversal of the trial court. The only racial gerrymandering the high court found came from Democrats.
When the travel ban was first challenged, Texas was the only state to file a brief defending the Trump administration. At the time, I was asked by a reporter whether I felt lonely. I responded that as the attorney general of a state with more than 28 million people, I never feel lonely.
As the travel ban case progressed, I had even less reason to feel lonely. When the case reached the Supreme Court, 15 states joined us in arguing that the travel ban is a lawful exercise of the president’s executive power over foreign affairs and national security. The Court agreed and upheld the travel ban.
It was a historic term for free speech and freedom of religion, constitutional rights that I will always defend. The high court sided with the 20-state Texas-led coalition and protected Colorado cake artist Jack Phillip’s right to operate his business consistent with his faith.
The justices also held that the state of California cannot force pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to promote abortions, in a case where Texas led 22 states in defending free speech and protecting the unborn. And in a major victory for taxpayers, the Court ruled that unions can no longer compel public-sector employees to pay for more and more government spending.
The Supreme Court’s major decisions this year share a common theme. They show that the proper role of the judiciary is to enforce the rule of law—not to score partisan points or advance the resistance to (or defense of) the Trump administration.
This lesson is critical when we consider President Trump’s selection to fill the current Supreme Court vacancy. With the help of a superb White House counsel’s office and leaders at the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation, President Trump has consistently nominated judges who are committed to applying the law according to its plain meaning.
Many have taken note of the Trump administration’s principled approach to judicial nominations, and are now panicking. Jokingly, I’ve predicted that an activist California court is going to try to enjoin Justice Kennedy from retiring—a decision the liberal Ninth Circuit would no doubt affirm!
Kidding aside, the Trump administration has every reason to stay the course. Justice Gorsuch was the right choice to fill the void left by the death of Justice Scalia, one of the greatest justices in our country’s history. Without Justice Gorsuch, the travel ban, union dues, redistricting, and other 5-4 decisions would have elevated results over the rule of law.
I am very pleased with the president’s focus on selecting committed constitutionalists to our courts. When it comes to the Supreme Court, I can only ask for “more of the same, please.”