Ted Cruz says US chief justice 'violated his oath' in Obamacare decision
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Chief justice John Roberts “violated his oath” when he backed Obamacare in a crucial supreme court decision last week, the Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said on Tuesday.

The Texas senator, who has vowed to “repeal every word of Obamacare” if elected, said he was personally disappointed by the chief justice’s decision to uphold Barack Obama’s seminal healthcare law, during an interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

“He violated his oath,” Cruz said. “He’s a good enough lawyer. He knows he did that. It was deeply disappointing.”

Cruz said on MSNBC that he considers Roberts a friend, and called him one of the best supreme court litigators alive. The presidential contender and former Texas solicitor general added that he used to try to emulate Roberts when he litigated in front of the court. Both Cruz and Roberts clerked for the former chief justice William Rehnquist.

Related: Ted Cruz's faux-filibuster over Obamacare: what you need to know

Last Thursday, the justices agreed in a 6-3 decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act in a case that turned on the meaning a vague four-word phrase.

“Given that the text is ambiguous, we must turn to the broader structure of the act to determine the meaning,” wrote Roberts in the ruling, which enraged conservatives.

“Sadly, these will go down in his legacy as the most political decisions he’s ever made,” Cruz told Yahoo anchor Katie Couric on Monday, also referring to a 2012 decision in which Roberts and the supreme court upheld Obamacare. “And it is violating his oath of office. It was heartbreaking and depressing three years ago when he did it – and it was every bit as heartbreaking last week,” he said.

The decision all but guarantees that Obama’s healthcare reforms will survive intact until at least the 2016 election, and many supporters are hopeful that the measures will become impossible to reverse – even if a Republican is elected to the White House.

Cruz has been among the most vocal opponents of the healthcare reforms, leading a 21-hour filibuster against the law in 2013. He also introduced legislation to repeal the law – a promise he has also campaigned on – and has proposed an alternative plan to the president’s model.

The following day, the court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 US states in a 5-4 decision, with Roberts joining his conservative colleagues in dissent.

Cruz called Roberts’s dissent on the same-sex marriage case “spot on”, during interview on Monday on the conservative Hugh Hewitt show.

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