On June 23, 1993, Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena (just 14 and 16-years-old respectively) were walking home from a party. As they crossed through a park, they encountered several members of the “Black and White” gang. The men had been drinking after performing an initiation ritual.
As Ertman and Pena walked by, 18-year-old illegal immigrant Jose Ernesto Medellin grabbed Pena and threw her down. Ertman initially ran, but came back to help her friend after hearing her screams. She was grabbed by two other gang members.
According to court documents, the two young girls were vaginally raped, orally raped, and sodomized. Following the horrific sexual assault, Ertman and Pena were brutally murdered.
According to American Bar:
“…they had been killed so that they could not identify their attackers. [Medellin] then elaborated that it would have been easier with a gun, but because they did not have one at the scene of the incident, he took off one of his shoelaces, and strangled at least one of the girls with it…[Medellin] complained of the difficulty [the] group encountered in killing the girls…[Medellin] said that he put his foot on her throat because she would not die.”
Allegedly laughing, Medellin told friends that he took one of the girls’ virginity, then proceeded to show them his blood-soaked underwear.
Medallion was sentenced to death in the state of Texas for his crimes.
Why am I describing this heinous rape and murder in detail? Because I need to lay the groundwork for what comes next.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice (World Court) demanded that the United States reopen Medellin’s case, as well as those of 50 others. According to the ICJ, the criminals were entitled to speak with their native country’s consulates upon their arrest. This was allegedly in accordance with the 1969 Vienna Convention.
Medellin wasn’t told about this “right” by the police or even his own attorneys, so the World Court told the U.S. to open up the abhorrent Medellin murder case. Shockingly, President George W. Bush agreed, issuing an executive order telling Texas to comply with the ICJ.
Long story short, Ted Cruz was Texas’ solicitor general at the time, and he was the one who argued the case before the Supreme Court.
Cruz writes in his book A Time for Truth:
“The lead argument we presented in our brief was that the president’s order violated the authority of Congress, because the senate ratified the Vienna Convention on the explicit understanding that the treaty was not binding on state and federal courts.”
Cruz won the case, 6-3. It was considered an incredible victory at the time.
This is a prime example of personal integrity, courage, and legal brilliance. Ted Cruz stood against his former boss, former governor of the state of Texas, and then-president of the United States, and said “No.” He effectively slapped Bush in the face–and for good reason. If Medellin’s case had been reopened, no one knows what would have happened. Justice isn’t perfect, and sometimes, even the most depraved escape punishment.
Ted Cruz stopped the case from being reopened, and as a result, Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena remained avenged, and an inhuman creature named Jose Ernesto Medellin was executed by lethal injection on August 8, 2008.
We talk about integrity a lot during the presidential race. When Ted Cruz was the solicitor general of Texas, it would have been easy and politically expedient for him to avoid a fight with the Republican president of the United States–but he knew what was right, and what was wrong.
Cruz knew that Medellin was rightly convicted for his heinous crimes, but he also knew that Bush’s executive order would set a dangerous precedent by which the United States could be subject to the World Court, thus signing away our sovereignty in perpetuity.
This was nine years ago. Cruz wasn’t under the senate or presidential spotlight at the time; he was the top attorney for the state of Texas. All he had to do was abide by Bush’s decision. He didn’t. Among the catalog of traits that I respect in Ted Cruz, his refusal to do whatever’s politically expedient when the going gets tough is at the top of the list.
Consider that as you vote Tuesday in New York, and as you vote in the remaining primaries across the country.