Supreme Court Does Not Block Texas Abortion Law, Schedules Hearings
The Supreme Court upholds a Texas law banning most abortions, but agreed to hear arguments in the case in early November.
The judges said Friday they will decide whether the federal government has the right to sue under the law. The answer to this question will help determine whether the law should be blocked while the litigation continues. The court is moving at an unusually fast pace, suggesting that it plans to make a quick decision. Arguments are scheduled for November 1st.
The court’s ruling so far upholds a law that clinics say has led to an 80% reduction in abortions in the country’s second-largest state.
The judges said in their ruling that they are postponing action on the Justice Department’s request to suspend the law. Judge Sonia Sotomayor wrote that she would now block the law.
“The promise of a future judgment, however, provides little comfort to Texas women seeking medical abortion who are eligible for help now,” Sotomayor wrote.
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Amy Hagstrom Miller, chief executive of Whole Woman’s Health, said Friday’s order means patients will continue to be denied care at four Whole Woman’s Health clinics in Texas, in addition to hundreds that have already been denied.
“Legal uncertainty is excruciating for both patients and staff at our clinic,” Miller said in a statement.
The law has been in effect since September, with the exception of a break ordered by the district court, which lasted only 48 hours, and a ban on abortion upon detection of cardiac activity, usually around six weeks, and before some women know they are pregnant.
This is long before major Supreme Court abortion decisions would allow states to ban abortion, although the court agreed to hear an appeal from Mississippi to overturn those decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Paternity v. Casey.
But Texas law was written in such a way as to avoid early consideration in federal court, leaving its implementation in the hands of private individuals rather than state officials.
The Supreme Court, in its brief ruling, said that the focus of the High Court’s arguments would not be a ban on abortion, but the question of whether the Justice Department could sue and obtain a court order that effectively obstructs the law.
If the law remains in force, “no decision of this Court is safe. States do not need to obey or even challenge precedents with which they disagree. They can simply outlaw the exercise of any rights that do not favor them, “the Biden administration wrote. a brief filed earlier in the day.
Other government-imposed bans on abortion until the fetus can survive outside the womb, about 24 weeks, have been blocked by courts because they contravene Supreme Court precedents.
“Texas should not achieve any other outcome simply by combining its unconstitutional law with an unprecedented enforcement scheme designed to bypass traditional judicial oversight mechanisms,” the administration wrote.
A day earlier, the state had called on the court to uphold the law, saying the federal government had no power to file a lawsuit challenging the Texas ban.
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit after the Supreme Court rejected previous attempts by abortion providers to temporarily suspend the measure.
In early October, US District Judge Robert Pitman ruled on behalf of the administration, suspending the law and authorizing the resumption of abortion.
Two days later, a three-judge panel of the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals put the law back into effect.
The court is already listening to arguments on December 1 in the Mississippi case, in which the state is calling on the court to overturn Rowe and Casey’s decisions.