On October 5, the Court took what seemed to be a fairly unusual step in No. 08-1596, Rhine v. Deaton, when it asked the Solicitor General of Texas to file a brief expressing the views of the State of Texas in a challenge to 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.  (I posted on the case shortly after the invitation was issued.)   It turns out that the Court's request was indeed quite unusual:  although the Court has occasionally (but very rarely) asked state attorneys general to file briefs expressing the views of their states, this was "“ as far as we can tell "“ apparently the first such request of a state solicitor general.  And although the distinction may seem like a hyper-technical one, it may also reflect the Court’s acknowledgement of the increasing role played by state solicitors general nationwide, and in particular their role as the representatives of their states at the Supreme Court. 

Texas Solicitor General James Ho recently filed the invitation brief (available here), in which he recommended that certiorari be denied.  Attorneys for petitioner Tracy Rhine will have the opportunity to file a supplemental brief before the case is considered at the justices' private conference early next year.

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