Supreme Court again refuses to block Texas abortion law

Supreme Court again refuses to block Texas abortion law


The Supreme Court again refused on Friday to immediately block a Texas law banning most abortions after six weeks. But the judges agreed to expedite their review of penalties from the Department of Justice and abortion providers in Texas and set the arguments for November 1st.

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The Supreme Court again refused on Friday to immediately block a Texas law banning most abortions after six weeks. But the judges agreed to expedite their review of penalties from the Department of Justice and abortion providers in Texas and set the arguments for November 1st.

Only judge Sonia Sotomayor appealed.

“This is the second time a lawsuit is being brought before the court to make a law that was made in overt disregard for the constitutional rights of women seeking abortion in Texas,” she wrote. “For the second time, the court refuses to act immediately to protect these women from serious and irreparable harm.”

She added, however, that she welcomed the court’s decision to hear arguments in the two cases, which will be largely limited to the procedural question of whether Texas law, SB 8, is subject to federal review given its novel structure.

The court said it would resolve that issue in the federal government’s lawsuit: “May the United States bring a federal court action and seek injunctive relief or a declaratory judgment against the state, state judges, state judicial officials, other state officials, or anyone private Parties obtain the enforcement of SB 8 prohibit? “

The court denied a motion by Texas officials to use the cases to determine whether the 1973 Roe v. Wade introduced the right to abortion should be repealed.

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That question is already on the table in a case challenging a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. Roe and other Supreme Court precedents, notably Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, states forbid abortions before fetus viability, the point at which fetuses can sustain life outside the uterus or approximately 22 to 24 weeks after pregnancy. The Mississippi case will be heard on December 1st, one month after the Texas case.

Texas law, known as Senate Bill 8, was designed to avoid review by a federal court.

Ordinarily, in a lawsuit that seeks to block a law because it is unconstitutional, state officials are named as defendants. However, Texas law, which makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or reprisals, prohibits state officials from enforcing it and instead empowers individuals to sue anyone who conducts or “aids” the process.

The patient must not be sued, but doctors, clinicians, consultants, people who help finance the procedure or drive there are potential defendants. Plaintiffs who do not live in Texas, are linked to, or have an injury from, the abortion are eligible for $ 10,000 and their legal fees will be refunded if they win. The majority of the defendants are not entitled to legal fees.

The Supreme Court’s earlier encounter with the case has bitterly divided the judges.

In an unsigned opinion on this earlier case, the majority cited “complex and novel” procedural obstacles to blocking the law and stressed that it did not judge the constitutionality of the law.

The majority wrote that their verdict “in no way restricts any other procedural challenge to Texas law, including in Texas courts.” Officials in Texas have said vendors can challenge the law by violating it, being sued, and invoking the unconstitutionality of the law as part of their defense.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the three more liberal members of the court who dissented in the earlier case. All four dissenting judges submitted comments.

“The order of the court is overwhelming,” wrote Sotomayor at the time in her dissent. “Presented with a motion to outlaw a blatantly unconstitutional law that bans women from exercising their constitutional rights and evades judicial review, a majority of judges have decided to stick their heads in the sand.”

“The court has rewarded the state’s efforts to delay the federal review of an apparently unconstitutional law, which was passed in disregard of the court’s precedents, through procedural entanglements in the state’s own creation,” Sotomayor wrote. “The court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligations to protect not only the rights of women but also the sanctity of its precedents and the rule of law.”

Roberts wrote that he blocked the law while the pesings were going on.

“The legal regulation in court is not only unusual, it is unprecedented,” he wrote. “After about six weeks, the legislature imposed an abortion ban and then essentially delegated the enforcement of this ban to the population. The desired consequence is to decouple the state from the responsibility for the implementation and enforcement of the regulatory regime. “

After the Supreme Court rejected the providers ‘request for emergency aid, the Justice Department filed its own lawsuit against the law, which was not subject to the providers’ procedural obstacles.

On October 6, Justice Robert Pitman of the Austin District Court ruled on behalf of the federal government and issued an injunction prohibiting the state, its officials and individuals from working with them to enforce the law.

“It is up to them that other courts find a way to avoid this conclusion,” he wrote. “This court will not punish this insulting deprivation of such an important right for a day.”

A restraining order was an appropriate response, Pitman wrote, to a law that was both constitutional and avoidable under judicial review.

“In full awareness that it would be blatantly unconstitutional to deprive its citizens of this right through direct government action,” he wrote, “the state has developed an unprecedented and transparent legal system to do just that.”

A divided three-person jury from the United States 5th District New Orleans District Court withheld Pitman’s decision and reinstated the law. The Justice Department then filed a complaint with the Supreme Court to have the suspension lifted.

“SB 8 is clearly unconstitutional under the precedents of this court,” wrote Brian Fletcher, the acting attorney general. “Texas hasn’t seriously argued otherwise.”

“SB 8 is an affront to the sovereign interests of the United States in maintaining the supremacy of federal law and ensuring that the traditional judicial review mechanisms approved by Congress and this court remain available to challenge unconstitutional state laws,” he wrote.

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton responded that the federal government was powerless to challenge the state’s abortion law.

“Basically, the federal government’s complaint is that SB 8 is difficult to command effectively,” Paxton wrote. “But it is not necessary for a state to write its laws in such a way that they can be easily enforced.”

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