Questions have been raised concerning a Texas politician’s recent exit from a large corporate law firm, suggesting that it could be fallout related to his political beliefs.
Texas State Representative Cody Vasut no longer holds a position at the corporate law firm BakerHostetler shortly after taking a public stance against law firms that send employees out of state to get an abortion.
According to recently filed paperwork and Texas bar registrations, Vasut intends to begin his own practice after ending his relationship with the Ohio-based law firm that has 17 offices and employs roughly 1,000 attorneys across the United States.
Reports by Reuters suggest that Vasut’s exit might have been the result of growing tension that quietly played out following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that ruled “there is no constitutional right to abortion.”
Shortly after this ruling, some businesses announced their intention to pay for female employees to travel out-of-state for an abortion if they could not obtain one in their current state due to newly enacted state restrictions.
On July 7, the Texas Freedom Caucus, of which Vasut is a member, sent a letter to the law firm Sidley Austin warning the company that they could be held liable for illegally assisting in abortions. The national law firm, which has offices in Dallas and Houston, had recently adopted policies to facilitate out-of-state abortions by female employees.
In their letter, the Freedom Caucus members alleged that “Sidley has been complicit in illegal abortions that were performed in Texas before and after the Supreme Court’s ruling” and laid out legislation they would be pushing to address these actions by law firms operating in Texas, including felony criminal charges and disbarment.
The letter ended pointedly, “Conduct yourselves accordingly.”
Soon after, BakerHostetler quietly removed Vasut’s profile from their firm’s website and deleted him from an alphabetical listing of their attorneys.
Vasut’s campaign webpage does not refer to his employment at BakerHostetler. Instead, it addresses his professional life generally, stating that he “currently works as an oil and gas litigator in Houston, defending a variety of Fortune 500 companies in oil and gas, personal injury, employment, and theft of trade secret litigation in Brazoria County and across the country.”
When asked for comment on the situation, First Amendment expert and attorney Tony McDonald responded to The Dallas Express by email, writing, “The liberal legal establishment likes to talk about access to justice, but then they seek to cancel lawyers who are part of the conservative half of the legal profession.
“If Mr. Vasut has been forced out of the firm because of his political positions, that’s a very disappointing move by BakerHostetler,” McDonald concluded.
Because Texas is a right-to-work state, however, if Vasut was terminated for expressing and acting upon his political beliefs there is no recourse available.
While numerous news outlets have attempted to reach Vasut and BakerHostetler for comment, both sides have remained uniformly silent. The Dallas Express has also reached out to both sides for comment and thus far has not received a response.