The Texas AG’s office has formally announced the hiring a new Solicitor General — Jim Ho. Actually, for now Texas has two-and-a-half SGs. The former SG (my old boss Ted Cruz) is still working in the office for the time being. (( There has been no announcement of what Cruz’s plans for the future are. There is, however, this tidbit from the April 7, 2008 National Law Journal that a reader points out to me: “As for Cruz, a former Bush administration Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission attorney who also aided the Bush presidential effort in the 2000 Florida recount battle, he has been touted as a potential gubernatorial candidate, as well as a potential federal appellate judge. ‘This has been a fabulous job and we’ll see what the future brings,’ he said. Most immediately, that future includes a date with the Supreme Court [on April 16th presenting an amicus argument in Kennedy v. Louisiana].” )) And, as the press release emphasizes, the Deputy SG (Sean Jordan) is now part of the “leadership team” (which I always thought he had been). I haven’t met Ho yet, but I expect to cross paths with him fairly soon. (( In addition to the many details in the press release, Ho has the distinction of having co-written a paper in 2003 with John Yoo about “unlawful combatants” and the Geneva Convention. Harvey Kronberg at Quorum Report seems concerned today, but I think that’s premature. It’s only if Texas secedes and begins to wage its own foreign policy that we should start to worry about how Texas would treat “unlawful combatants.” [Update: Harvey made a new post today (Thursday) moderating his earlier criticism after more carefully reading the linked article. Along the way he notes that Ho has gone out of his way to distance himself from some of Yoo’s more controversial statements on the subject.] ))
What’s somewhat unusual about Ho’s legal career path is that he did his Supreme Court clerkship midstream, after he had already spent five years as a lawyer working in the political branches. According to the data on his LinkedIn profile, Ho finished his clerkship for Justice Thomas in July 2006.
The Sophistic Miltonian Serbonian Blog notes that this SCOTUS clerkship may help Ho as a state solicitor general when the State has a case there. (The SG’s office oversees the State’s appellate litigation in other courts as well, including handling many of the State’s cases in the Texas Supreme Court.)
The recency of that clerkship may, however, raise one small speed bump — the United States Supreme Court’s rule barring former clerks from participating in cases before that Court for two years from the end of their clerkship. Because Ho’s clerkship at the Court did not end until July 2006, he is barred (if I understand the rule) from any participation in the United States Supreme Court docket until late this summer. I’m confident that the Texas SG’s office has other lawyers capable of handling those duties until then.