Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas 6-week abortion ban – .

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas 6-week abortion ban – .

The law is “clearly unconstitutional” and allowing it to remain in force “would perpetuate the ongoing irreparable harm to thousands of Texas women who are denied their constitutional rights,” the Department of Justice said.

The emergency enforcement puts judges at the center of a storm created by the law that bans abortions before most women even know they are pregnant.

The judges could act at any time, although they are likely to request a response from Texas. Normally, once the response is received, the Department of Justice has an opportunity to respond before the court issues an order in the case.

On September 1, a deeply divided court allowed Texas law to come into effect, in another legal challenge brought by abortion providers. This decision made Roe v. Wade a dead letter in the second largest state in the country.

As the judges re-examine the law, they will review the case detailing the impact of the law on women and clinics on the ground over the past six weeks. In affidavits, abortion providers say this has had a chilling effect because staff are “in the throes of fear and instability,” and they “remain seriously concerned that even the fact is. performing abortions in accordance with SB 8 will result in legal action against anti-abortion or other vigilantes. seeking financial gain ”under the law enforcement provision, which offers up to $ 10,000 in damages.

Providers in neighboring states have said under oath they are inundated with patients from Texas seeking abortions. When Judge Robert Pitman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas temporarily blocked the law earlier this month, he said that from the time it came into effect, “women have been illegally barred from exercise control over their lives in a way that is constitutionally protected. “

And in a stern rebuke to the Supreme Court, Pitman wrote: “Whether other courts can find a way to avoid this conclusion is for them to decide; this Court will not sanction one more day the offensive deprivation of such an important right.

The 5th U.S. Court of Appeals, however, stayed Pitman’s ruling, meaning the law is in effect for now. He rejected the Justice Department’s request to lift the suspension last Thursday evening. The DOJ immediately told reporters it planned to appeal.

A key question in the case is whether the federal government has the legal right or “standing” to take on the challenge in question. The DOJ says it does, in part because the individuals who bring a lawsuit act as agents of the state and the government has the power to protect the basic rights of its citizens.

But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said the federal government had no right to intervene.

It is supported by a brief by Jonathan Mitchell, one of the architects of the law who now represents three people interested in suing those who might break the law.

Mitchell wrote that states “have tools in their arsenal to limit the opportunities for the judiciary to declare their statutes unconstitutional.”

RELATED: What Abortion Access Looks Like In America Before The Supreme Court Even Reconsidered Roe v. Wade

Mitchell said states can structure their laws in such a way that they “reduce or eliminate” laws from being challenged before they are actually enforced. “And that’s what Texas did,” he said. “By prohibiting state officials from applying the law and allowing citizens to apply the law through private civil actions, Texas has prevented the judiciary from considering” such challenges.

Mitchell added that abortion is “not a constitutional right,” but rather a “right invented by the court which may not even have the majority support for it. ‘current Supreme Court’.

Shadow folder

The court has yet to act on a similar petition to block Texan law introduced by abortion providers in the state, suggesting judges may want to deal with both disputes at the same time. The cases are on the court’s emergency file – sometimes referred to as its “shadow file” – which has come under criticism of late because the court is acting without the benefit of a full outreach program and information. oral arguments.

On September 1, for example, when the court cleared the application of the law, Judge Elena Kagan, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer, criticized the majority for acting “hastily” on an order ” of great importance ”. “The majority decision is emblematic of too much of this Court’s shadow decision-making – which is becoming more unreasonable, inconsistent and impossible to defend with each passing day,” Kagan wrote.

Dissent at Supreme Court as judges publicize their anger

Later that month, Judge Samuel Alito delivered an unusual speech dismissing criticism that the court mishandled some of the cases on his emergency record. He said recent criticism from the media and political actors was aimed at suggesting “that a dangerous cabal decides important issues in a new, secret and inappropriate way, in the middle of the night, out of the public eye. “.

In December, the Supreme Court will also review a Mississippi law banning the procedure after 15 weeks. In this case, the state asks the court to set aside Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide before viability, which can occur at around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Neither Texas law nor Mississippi law has an exception for rape or incest.


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