Sparks Strikes Again in Abortion Case
Fending off another attempt to intervene
By Jordan Smith, 5:32PM, Tue. Aug. 23, 2011
Just when you thought federal District Judge Sam Sparks might have some time to work on his first opinion related to the state's new ultrasound-before-abortion bill, he's had to stop and take time out, once again, to fend off the attempts of political grandstanders wanting to intervene and tell him what's what.
He ain't havin' it.
As we reported last week, Sparks shot down attempts by ultrasound-before-abortion bill authors Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, and Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, from intervening and offering their thoughts on the import of the law – which requires women undergoing abortion to first undergo an ultrasound and, except in rare circumstances, to listen to a description of fetal development. Sparks, as nicely as he could, we imagine, told them he didn't need their help.
He sent a similar message in rejecting the attempts of more than 60 lawmakers (supporters of the bill) to intervene, in another attempt to explain to Sparks their intent and the importance of certain aspects of the law, and how those things apply to the case in front of Sparks in a suit brought by Texas doctors, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, which argues that the law is unconstitutional. Again, Sparks was as polite as he could be.
This time, however, it seems Sparks is getting a bit perturbed. In rejecting the latest attempt to file a friend-of-the-court brief, written by anti-abortion lawyer Allan Parker, with the Justice Foundation, on "behalf of 317 Texas Women Hurt By Abortion," Sparks did not mince words – especially in responding to Parker's filing of a host of exhibits, including the picture of a "first-trimester aborted child," according to a list of the appendices, which Sparks has placed under seal.
"The Court has already turned down two extremely tempting offers to transform this case from a boring old federal lawsuit into an exciting, politically-charged media circus," he wrote. "As any competent attorney could have predicted, the Court declines this latest invitation as well."
Moreover, Sparks continued that he concludes Parker is not competent: "the Court is forced to conclude Allan E. Parker, Jr., the attorney whose signature appears on this motion, is anything but competent," he wrote. "A competent attorney would not have filed this motion in the first place; if he did, he certainly would not have attached exhibits that are both highly prejudicial and legally irrelevant; and if he foolishly did both things, he surely would not be so unprofessional as to file such exhibits unsealed."
Alas, that's exactly what Parker did.
This is the third time that Parker has tried to grandstand with Sparks in this case – he tried twice during a hearing this summer – and the third time Sparks has shut him down.
You can read the entire order here.