Exclusive: Attorney at rival firm among lawmakers accusing Sidley Austin of aiding illegal abortions

Katie R. Ochoa

Signage is seen exterior of the legislation company Sidley Austin at their lawful offices in Washington. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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(Reuters) – A Texas lawmaker who is section of a legislative caucus that very last week accused the Sidley Austin law organization of showing to be “complicit in unlawful abortions” is an lawyer used by one more major U.S. legislation business, point out bar records and his legislative website show.

Representative Cody Vasut is “of counsel” in the Houston office of BakerHostetler, an Ohio-started business with about 1,000 lawyers nationally. Vasut is also a person of 11 state lawmakers in the Texas Independence Caucus, which said it would introduce laws making legislation corporations criminally liable and requiring disbarment for Texas lawyers who aid to fork out for abortions or abortion journey.

The caucus explained in a July 7 letter to Sidley that the Chicago-based business “may have aided or abetted drug-induced abortions” in violation of Texas regulation and warned it to maintain any pertinent records in anticipation of remaining sued.

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Vasut and Texas Flexibility Caucus chair Representative Mayes Middleton did not reply to requests for remark on the letter, which was posted to the group’s web-site. A Sidley spokesperson did not answer to requests for remark on the letter.

BakerHostetler told Reuters on Tuesday that Vasut’s political activity was unconnected to the company. “His affiliation with the Texas Liberty Caucus is in a personal potential and exclusively linked to his legislative job,” firm chairman Paul Schmidt explained.

Eleven women lawyers with BakerHostetler, which include 10 associates, have been signatories to an open letter to start with revealed in The American Law firm previous thirty day period decrying the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Wellbeing Firm, which overturned the U.S. constitutional right to abortion.

After the ruling, which remaining regulation and criminalization on abortion up to particular person states, various big regulation corporations such as Sidley joined huge companies in promising to deal with journey costs for U.S. workers who could no more time receive abortions in states limiting or outlawing the process. Texas is between the states that had abortion bans set to choose impact after the constitutional proper to terminate a being pregnant was overturned.

Sidley is the only legislation business the caucus publicly named in its letter, which lifted likely litigation and other penalties for allegedly violating prohibitions on abortion. The letter did not point out why it singled out the firm.

Other main legislation firms with Texas workplaces these kinds of as Vinson & Elkins and McDermott Will & Emery are also featuring employees abortion travel gains, Reuters has documented. Sidley and BakerHostetler equally have workplaces in Dallas and Houston, serving clientele in vitality and other industries.

A BakerHostetler spokesperson would not say whether the organization delivers comparable benefits.

Bruce Environmentally friendly, a legal ethics professor with Fordham University’s law college, informed Reuters that a legislation directing a Texas court docket to disbar lawyers for facilitating abortion “would established up a state constitutional issue of no matter if the legislature is encroaching on the judiciary’s authority,” because the judiciary regulates lawyer perform. Environmentally friendly additional that he has not noticed this sort of a proposal prior to.

Vasut signifies oil, fuel and power companies in litigation, according to BakerHostetler web page. The organization also lists him as a member of the board of administrators for the Being pregnant Support Middle of Brazosport, an organization that guides women of all ages with unplanned pregnancies toward owning the little one. He is also on the board of directors for the Brazoria County Bar Association basis, a single of the counties he represents in the legislature.

Other members of the Texas Independence Caucus are also legal professionals, but do not seem to do the job for corporate law firms. State Representative Matt Krause used nearly five a long time as an legal professional with Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit, anti-abortion authorized team that has advocated in courtroom on behalf of conservative Christian triggers. He still left that purpose in 2012.

A further member, Consultant Briscoe Cain, is the Texas counsel for the anti-abortion team Operation Rescue. The team past yr gave him an award for his operate on a Texas legislation that prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Cain and Krause did not straight away reply to requests for remark.

Examine more:

Texas lawmakers goal legislation companies for aiding abortion accessibility

Substantial U.S. legislation firms start to give abortion vacation added benefits right after Dobbs ruling

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