News 08 Nov. 2021

Partner Hermann Ferré argues before SCOTUS in landmark equal protection case

On Tuesday, November 9, 2021, partner Hermann Ferré will argue before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of respondent in United States v. Vaello-Madero—a case with historic significance for the constitutional rights of the residents of Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories. The Supreme Court is considering whether denying Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) to otherwise eligible individuals solely because they reside in Puerto Rico violates their right to equal protection. Hermann has broad appellate litigation experience and has argued many times in federal court and before international tribunals. This case will be Hermann’s first argument before the Court.

Senior associate Juan Perla will be second chair at the argument. He has been the lead associate on the case from the district court up through the Supreme Court. He clerked for two federal judges, including Judge L. Felipe Restrepo of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and has experience briefing appeals in federal court and at the certiorari and merits stages in the Supreme Court.

“We are honored to make the case for equal treatment for Mr. Vaello Madero and others like him, who are being denied critical benefits because of a century-old practice of purposeful discrimination against residents of unincorporated territories,” said Hermann. “We are also pleased to use this opportunity to train associates like Juan as part of a new generation of appellate lawyers at the firm.”

This case is part of the firm’s commitment to pro bono work. Curtis was appointed pro bono counsel in this case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. The team representing Mr. Vaello Madero also includes associates Robert Groot, Andrew Larkin, Lorena Guzmán-Díaz, Daniel Gomez, and Jean Lambert. Curtis has been assisted throughout by local counsel John W. Ferré-Crossley.

The Court will convene for argument at 10 a.m. EST. A live audio stream of the argument will be available on the Supreme Court website.

Click here to read Curtis’ Brief for Respondent.

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