AUSTIN, Texas (September 9, 2021) — The Justice Department on Thursday sued Texas over a new state law that bans most abortions, arguing that it was enacted “in open defiance of the Constitution.”
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Texas, asks a federal judge to declare that the law is invalid, “to enjoin its enforcement, and to protect the rights that Texas has violated.”
“The act is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing Supreme Court precedent,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a news conference announcing the suit. The Justice Department is also concerned other states could enact similar laws that he said would “deprive their citizens of their constitutional rights.”
The Texas law, known as SB8, prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity — usually around six weeks, before some women know they’re pregnant. Courts have blocked other states from imposing similar restrictions, but Texas’ law differs significantly because it leaves enforcement to private citizens through civil lawsuits instead of criminal prosecutors.
The Supreme Court earlier this month not to bloc the Texas Abortion Law which prohibits most abortions, — less than a day after it took effect and became the most restrictive abortion measure in the nation.
The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s three liberal members in dissent.
The majority opinion was unsigned and consisted of a single long paragraph. It said the abortion providers who had challenged the law in an emergency application to the court had not made their case in the face of “complex and novel” procedural questions. The majority stressed that it was not ruling on the constitutionality of the Texas law and did not mean to limit “procedurally proper challenges” to it.
The 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade, was established a constitutional right to an abortion, but the law did not stipulate at which time during the pregnancy–is murder and not a choice. Roe vs. Wade left it up to the individual states to decide. It also left Texas abortion providers turning away patients as they scrambled to comply with the law, which prohibits abortions after roughly six weeks.
Source: AP News, Bee News Daily and the NYT contributed to the article.