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More on CVSG-Texas in Rhine v. Deaton

Today in No. 08-1596, Rhine v. Deaton, the Court called for the views of the Solicitor General — of Texas.  The case pits a biological mother against the would-be adoptive parents of her child.  As the case comes to the Supreme Court, the mother (represented by, among other attorneys, Erwin Chemerinsky of the new University of California at Irvine Law School) raises both due process and equal protection challenges arising primarily from a Texas statute that provides court-appointed counsel to parents facing the termination of their parental rights in proceedings initiated by the state, but not in proceedings initiated by private parties.  Opposing certiorari, the would-be adoptive parents contend that Ms. Rhine has not preserved any of the issues that she now presents for review, but they further emphasize that providing Ms. Rhine with counsel would not have made any difference in the outcome of the proceedings.  They do not address the substance of Ms. Rhine’s constitutional challenges.  Instead, they write, “the validity of the statutes is really the State of Texas’s fight.”

Pursuant to both a Supreme Court Rule and a federal statute, Ms. Rhine was required to serve the petition on the State of Texas, which she did.  However, the Court today took the extremely rare step (we’ve found only a handful of examples in the past few decades) of calling for the views of the Solicitor General of Texas, to allow him to weigh in on the issue directly.  As with “invitations” issued to the Solicitor General of the United States, there is no designated time table for Texas Solicitor General James Ho to respond.