Two attorneys with ties to Texas clash in Supreme Court on Monday over arguments in state abortion cases
WASHINGTON – Despite their overlapping track record and close ties to Texas, Texas Attorney General Judd Stone II and Marc Hearron, senior attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, will do whatever they can to prove the other wrong when they will face off on Monday in the United States Supreme Court. .
The attorneys, who both went to school in Texas and clerked for the judges of the 5th New Orleans Circuit Court of Appeals, clashed in a battle royale of oral arguments to debate the constitutionality of Texas’ new abortion law, known as Senate Bill 8 and considered the toughest in the nation.
For Stone, who served as clerk to late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, this will be the first time he has argued on behalf of Texas before the Supreme Court.
In Whole Woman’s Health vs. Jackson, one of two challenges to the new law that the Supreme Court will hear next week, Hearron is arguing on behalf of the group of Texas abortion clinics and providers who have filed a lawsuit against the clerks and judges of the courts of the State of Texas, the State Attorney General and other executive officials.
When Whole Woman’s Health and other providers filed for an emergency injunction with the Supreme Court when SB 8 was due to go into effect on September 1, the court refused to block the law. Now, Whole Woman’s Healththe challenge of was combined with the challenge of the Ministry of Justice, United States vs. Texas, in a single hearing on November 1.
Through back-and-forth decisions, the courts finally allowed SB 8 to remain in place for the time being. A recent study found that the number of abortions performed in the state halved in the first month after the law was enacted, the largest documented decrease in the procedure in recent Texas history.
Stone, in his role as Solicitor General of Texas, is tasked with arguing all state cases that come before the Supreme Court – a high-profile, high-pressure job.
He is poised to defend SB 8 against two distinct challenges: whether a state can isolate a law from federal court review by delegating enforcement to the public, and whether SB 8 is sufficiently prejudicial to “l ‘public interest and general welfare’ to justify the intervention of the federal government.
Stone attended the University of Texas at Dallas and received his law degree from Northwestern University in 2010. He began his legal career as a legal assistant, working for then Chief Justice Edith Jones. on the 5th circuit, Judge Daniel Winfree on the Alaska Supreme Court. and, in 2014, with Scalia.
Internships at the Supreme Court are highly desirable, with many more applicants than open positions.
“There were so many qualified applicants, so it’s incredibly humbling and exciting to be chosen for this internship,” Stone said in 2013 after hearing the news. Scalia, who NPR called “perhaps the main voice of uncompromising conservatism in the country’s highest court,” died in 2016.
Stone has been active in the Federalist Society, a conservative and libertarian legal community, as a law student and still attends Federalist Society events as a practicing lawyer. Stone was an Olin-Searle-Smith Fellow at Harvard Law School and practiced in a few Washington, DC-based law firms.
In February 2018, Texas Senator Ted Cruz – himself a former Texas Solicitor General – hired Stone as senior counsel, a role that typically involves developing, monitoring and managing legislation and preparing for hearings. Stone left almost two years later to join the Solicitor General’s office.
“In his many years of service to our state, Judd has proven to be an exceptional lawyer who is firmly committed to the rule of law,” Cruz said in a statement to The morning news from Dallas. “I have no doubts that Judd will approach these cases with the same work ethic and dedication that he demonstrated when he worked in my office and as Solicitor General.”
Stone took office as Texas Solicitor General in February. He replaced Kyle Hawkins, who months earlier had failed to sign a controversial lawsuit Paxton filed aimed at overturning Democrat Joe Biden’s swing state victories in the 2020 presidential election.
Hawkins did not state the reason for his departure, but congratulated his replacement.
“Judd Stone is one of the most talented lawyers I have worked with. Judd’s appellate advocacy skills are unmatched, ”Hawkins said in a statement.
Stone heads the office with nearly 20 attorneys, all dedicated to overseeing and approving all appellate litigation for the state of Texas, or cases where a higher court reviews a lower court’s decision.
SMU Law School graduate
Hearron, who will advocate for Whole Woman’s Health and other providers of Whole Woman’s Health vs. Jackson, does not lack links with Texas either. He received his law degree from Dedman Law School at Southern Methodist University and worked for Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater in the United States District Court for the North District of Texas.
On the 5th Circuit, Hearron worked for Judge Carolyn Dineen King, an influential Houston lawyer and judge who helped reshape the federal justice system. Prior to joining the Center for Reproductive Rights in 2019, he served as Senior Advisor to Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., On the Senate Judiciary Committee.
When Hearron was a practice partner in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court at an international law firm, he was heavily involved in volunteer work, focusing specifically on reproductive and LGBTQ rights.
When arguments begin on Monday, Hearron will presumably try to prove that Texas cannot, under the Constitution, shield a law – in this case, SB 8 – from federal court review by leaving the power to apply this law to the general public through individual prosecutions.
Stone, on the other hand, will attempt to convince the court of one main conclusion: Texas has crafted its law so well that no one has jurisdiction to challenge it, including the federal government.
In its 93-page brief, the state argues that, since no state official is enforcing the ban, the Department of Justice has no standing to challenge. Abortion clinics also cannot challenge the law, argues the state, because – as legislators intended – they cannot “identify a suitable defendant.”
New Solicitor General of the United States
In United States vs. Texas, in the case of the Department of Justice, United States Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar will represent the federal government in oral argument. Prelogar, a Harvard Law School alumnus and only the second woman to serve as Solicitor General, was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday and sworn in Friday afternoon.
Prelogar argued nine cases before the Supreme Court. A longtime lawyer, she began working for current United States Attorney General Merrick Garland while serving as a judge on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals. She then completed consecutive internships at the Supreme Court for Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan.
From 2014 to 2019, Prelogar was Assistant to the Solicitor General of the US Department of Justice. On Monday, she will be tasked with convincing the court that SB 8 is bad enough for the government to invoke the public interest and get involved in lawsuits between private parties.
Austin correspondent Allie Morris contributed to this report.