Earl Leroy Yeakel III

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Earl Leroy Yeakel III
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
Assumed office
July 29, 2003
Appointed by George W. Bush
Preceded by James R. Nowlin
Personal details
Born 1945 (age 70–71)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Oklahoma
Alma mater University of Texas B.A.
University of Texas School of Law J.D.
Profession Judge

Earl Leroy Yeakel III (born 1945), also known as Lee Yeakel, is a United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.


Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Yeakel received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas in 1966 and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas School of Law in 1969. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1967 to 1970. He was in private practice in Austin, Texas from 1969 to 1998. He was Justice of the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District from 1998 to 2003 and served as chief justice of that court in 1998. He received an LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2001.

District Court service[edit]

Yeakel was nominated by President George W. Bush on May 1, 2003, to a seat vacated by Judge James R. Nowlin. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 28, 2003, and received his commission on July 29, 2003.

Abortion rulings[edit]

On October 28, 2013, Yeakel ruled that abortion restrictions enacted by the state of Texas were unconstitutional, in the case of Whole_Woman's_Health_v._Hellerstedt.[1] Yeakel wrote: "The admitting-privileges provision of House Bill 2 does not bear a rational relationship to the legitimate right of the state in preserving and promoting fetal life or a woman’s health and, in any event, places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her."[2] Three days later, Yeakel's order was mostly overturned by a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans[3] The part of the law requiring doctors in abortion facilities have admitting privileges at local hospitals was unanimously reinstated by the panel.[3] Only one part of Yeakel's order remained and that part was where the order prevents the state from enforcing the FDA protocol for abortion-inducing drugs in cases where the woman is between 50 and 63 days into her pregnancy.[3] On August 29, 2014, in response to a second lawsuit, Judge Yeakel ruled again that abortion restrictions in Texas H. B. 2 imposed an "undue burden" upon women seeking pre-viability abortions and upon abortion providers, and declared several provisions of the law unconstitutional.

Yeakel's rulings were upheld by the United States Supreme Court in June 2016.



Legal offices
Preceded by
James Robertson Nowlin
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas