Robert D. Mather, Ph.D.

TheConservativeSocialPsychologist.com Blog
Review of "One Vote Away"

A U. S. Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz went to Harvard Law School and clerked for Chief Justice William Rehnquist at the U. S. Supreme Court. He also served as Solicitor General of Texas and taught U. S. Supreme Court litigation at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, TX. He is the host of the podcast “Verdict”. His book “One Vote Away: How a Supreme Court Seat Can Change History” is a fascinating look at the Supreme Court through the eyes of one of the smartest men in American politics.

 

In “One Vote Away”, Cruz discusses pivotal Supreme Court cases about religious liberty, school choice, gun rights, sovereignty, abortion, free speech, capital punishment, and elections. All of these involve cases with which he either argued to the court or made the case for an accompanying law in the Senate. The book is framed around cases that were decided with a 5-4 vote, illustrating the importance of electing a President and Senators who confirm justices that align with a voter’s values. His writing style is easy to follow and for me this book was an update to the constitutional law class that I took several decades ago from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri. These issues are critical and the cases themselves, legal context of the precedents, and his intimate knowledge of the players involved and their motives makes this a real-life political thriller.

 

Cruz was my Solicitor General when I lived in Texas, so this book brought to life many of the cases that I remember him litigating at the time and provides a behind the scenes tour into how and why he handled them the way he did. For example, in 2003 several Texas Democrats fled Austin to hide out in a Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma to prevent quorum and avoid a vote on redistricting. Cruz gave his insights into that event.

 

Relevant to the post-2020 election months, he outlines the 2000 Bush-Gore case that litigated the selection of a president. In that case, the U. S. Supreme Court was unhappy that the Florida Supreme Court reissued its original decision without acknowledging that the U. S. Supreme Court vacated its original decision with a 9-0 vote. Such is the clash of egos among federal courts. The delay of the election results also delayed his marriage proposal to his future wife.

 

Most interesting was the insight into his courtroom tactics and persuasion strategies. Cruz discussed his own unique debate style and detailed his leadership of strategy in the Senate confirmation hearings of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. He also mixed in some humor, such as returning to his law class at the University of Texas and explaining to his class that he was the litigator who put Justice Ginsburg to sleep.

 

 

Cruz gave his assessment of each of the Republican Supreme Court Justice selections of the past 75 years. His book is a tour through the psychology of group processes, decision making, and persuasion and gives readers a front row seat into his courtroom strategy and tactics. Cruz is the most relevant, consequential, ideologically fundamental, principled conservative of my generation. I voted for Cruz in the 2016 Oklahoma Presidential Primary, and I look forward to voting for him for President again in the future. “One Vote Away” is an excellent book for any student of American law and politics. 

 

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