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 Robertson Nowlin
Personal details
Born Earl Leroy Yeakel III
1945 (age 72–73)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Education University of Texas (B.A.)
University of Texas School of Law (J.D.)
University of Virginia School of Law (LL.M.)

Earl Leroy Yeakel III (born 1945), also known as Lee Yeakel, is a United States District Judge of 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 Doctor 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 a Master of Laws 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 Robertson 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.


  1. ^ "Federal judge declares Texas abortion restrictions unconstitutional, blocks enforcement", Washington Post (Associated Press story; October 28, 2013).
  2. ^ Sutton, Kimberly. Area leaders, citizens rebuke federal stance on state’s law, Conroe Courier, October 28, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Eckholm, Erik (2013-10-31). "In Reversal, Court Allows Texas Law on Abortion". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-10-31.


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