Justice Department Sues Texas Over Abortion Ban

By Kate Scanlon September 10, 2021 | Image Source: Washington Examiner

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday that the Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Texas in response to a state law banning abortions after six weeks’ gestation.

Texas’s Senate Bill 8 , also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, prohibits abortion after six weeks’ gestation unless a woman’s life is in danger. The law has another controversial provision permitting any person to bring a civil action against anyone who performs an abortion procedure or “aids or abets” such a procedure after six weeks.

Garland said at a press conference that S.B. 8 is “clearly unconstitutional under long-standing Supreme Court precedent.”

“The obvious and expressly acknowledged intention of this statutory scheme is to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights by thwarting judicial review for as long as possible,” Garland said.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit argues that S.B. 8 comes into conflict with existing federal law “by purporting to prohibit federal agencies from carrying out their responsibilities under federal law related to abortion services” and that Texas enacted S.B. 8 “in open defiance of the Constitution.”

“The United States has the authority and responsibility to ensure that Texas cannot evade its obligations under the Constitution and deprive individuals of their constitutional rights by adopting a statutory scheme designed specifically to evade traditional mechanisms of federal judicial review,” the lawsuit states.

The Supreme Court declined last week to block S.B. 8 on procedural grounds, writing that its order “is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts.”

The Biden administration criticized the court for declining to block the law. Garland said in a statement following the order that the Justice Department would explore “all options” to challenge Texas’s ban, while the White House announced “a whole-of-government effort” to “ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions.”

A spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott defended S.B. 8.

“The most precious freedom is life itself,” said Renae Eze, Abbott’s press secretary. “Texas passed a law that ensures that the life of every child with a heartbeat will be spared from the ravages of abortion. Unfortunately, President Biden and his administration are more interested in changing the national narrative from their disastrous Afghanistan evacuation and reckless open border policies instead of protecting the innocent unborn. We are confident that the courts will uphold and protect that right to life.”

Author: Kate Scanlon

Source: Washington Examiner: Justice Department sues Texas over abortion ban