The Supreme Court is hearing five oral arguments this week, and all five of them have a Texas connection. Two of them were scheduled to be argued 10 days after the court agreed to take up the cases – an extraordinarily fast track for the advocates. Here’s a rundown of Texas lawyers playing a role in each case:
Whole Woman’s Health, et al. v. Austin Reeve Jackson, Judge, District Court of Texas, 114th District, et al.
This is the blockbuster case in which the abortion law S.B.8 was challenged by the Whole Woman’s Health facility, asserting that a state judge and other Texas officials cannot preside over any lawsuits brought under the S.B.8 provision allowing the general public to enforce the law.
— Judge Austin Reeve Jackson, an alum of Texas Tech School of Law, sits at Tyler, Texas. He did not like being chosen as the lead respondent in the case. “Make no mistake, this lawsuit is a direct attack by far-left groups on the rule of law and the right of pro-life communities to elect people who share their values,” he said in an August news conference.
— Marc Hearron, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, will argue on behalf of Whole Woman’s Health. He received his J.D. from the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law and clerked for Judge Carolyn Dineen King on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and for Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Also on the brief are lawyers from the ACLU team from Houston, including Adriana Pinon, David Donatti and Andre Segura.
— On the Texas side arguing against Whole Woman’s Health is Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone II. Stone graduated from the Northwestern University law school, clerked for then-Chief Judge Edith Jones on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and Justice Antonin Scalia on the high court. Stone practiced at Morgan, Lewis, and Bockius in Washington. D.C., and at Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick. He was chief counsel for Senator Ted Cruz. Heather Gebelin Hacker of Hacker Stephens in Austin submitted a brief on behalf of another respondent in the case.
United States v. Texas
This time the Biden administration is asking the court whether the United States can bring suit in federal court and obtain injunctive or declaratory relief against the state, state court judges, state court clerks, other state officials or all private parties to prohibit S.B.8 from being enforced. Four days after being sworn in as U.S. solicitor general, Elizabeth Prelogar is arguing on behalf of the United States.
— Judd Stone II will argue again for Texas. It is very rare but not unheard of for a lawyer to argue twice on the same day at the Supreme Court. On top of everything else, he’ll argue a third Texas case at the high court, Ramirez v. Collier, on Nov. 9.
— Jonathan Mitchell, believed to be the mastermind of the Texas law’s component that allows the general public to sue those who aid abortions, will argue on behalf of private respondents. Also a former Scalia law clerk, he got his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. He was Texas solicitor general from 2010 to 2015 and then taught at the University of Texas School of Law as well as Stanford Law School. He now works solo at Mitchell Law PLLC in Austin.
— Also weighing in in support of Texas is Alan Parker of The Justice Foundation in San Antonio. He authored an amicus brief for the 410 Texas Women Injured by Abortion organization and others.
— Donald ‘Rocky’ Wilcox, general counsel at the Texas Medical Association in Austin, provided an amicus brief against the Texas law. He received his J.D. from SMU Dedman School of Law.
Houston Community College System v. David Buren Wilson
This is a First Amendment case brought by David Wilson, a member of the board of trustees of the Houston Community College who was censured for controversial activities. He claimed the censure violated his First Amendment speech rights.
— Richard Morris of Rogers, Morris & Grover in Houston will argue on behalf of the community college.
— Representing Wilson is Michael Kimberly of McDermott Will & Emery in Washington. No known Texas connection.
— Meredith Prykryl Walker of Walsh Gallegos Trevino Russo & Kyle in Irving, Texas, filed a brief supporting the community college on behalf of Texas Association of School Boards Legal Assistance Fund.
Denise A. Badgerow v. Greg Walters, et al.
This Federal Arbitration Act case tests whether federal courts have subject-matter jurisdiction to confirm or vacate an arbitration award under Sections 9 and 10 of the act when the only basis for jurisdiction is that the underlying dispute involved a federal question. The dispute hails from Louisiana, but the lawyers have Texas connections:
— Daniel Geyser, now with Haynes and Boone in Denver, had a solo appellate practice in Dallas in 2018 and more recently joined Alexander Dubose & Jefferson in Dallas. He will argue on behalf of plaintiff Badgerow.
— Lisa Blatt of Williams & Connolly will argue on behalf of the respondent. She has argued 41 cases before the high court, more than any other woman in private practice. She was born in Tom Green County, Texas, and received her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. Even though she is now based in Washington, she said, “I’ve never left my Texas roots. After all, they are roots!” in a Texas Lawbook interview last year.
New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., et al., Petitioners v. Kevin P. Bruen, in His Official Capacity as Superintendent of New York State Police, et al.
Another blockbuster, this one testing whether barring concealed-carry licenses for self-defense violates the Second Amendment. It’s a New York case, and none of the lawyers arguing are Texans. But numerous Texas lawyers have weighed in with amicus curiae briefs, all of them on the side of concealed carry:
— James Sullivan, deputy general counsel for the governor of Texas, filed a brief on behalf of the governor, stressing the importance of the case for Texans. One comment in the brief: “When a Texan exercises his constitutional right to travel to a State like New York … he should not have to check his constitutional right to ‘bear Arms’ at the border.”
— Charles Randall Flores of Beck Redden in Houston is counsel of record for a brief on behalf of people who “face disproportionate risks of violence away from home.”
— Jonathan Mitchell of Mitchell Law in Austin, who was involved in the abortion cases above, filed a brief for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The brief states that the foundation “leads the way in advocating for the firearm industry and its businesses and jobs, keeping guns out of the wrong hands, encouraging enjoyment of recreational shooting and hunting, and helping people better understand the industry’s lawful products.”
— Jerad Wayne Najvar of the Najvar Law Firm in Houston filed a brief for the Center for Defense of Free Enterprise. The center’s mission, he wrote, “is to support the property and human rights of individuals and businesses against government intrusion.”