The Western District of Texas is expected to issue a ruling after the Department of Justice asked for an injunction to temporarily halt the novel abortion law.
On Oct. 1, before a Federal District Judge, the Department of Justice argued the new abortion law passed by the Texas state legislature presents a threat to the rule of law and poses a clear violation of the Constitution. The oral arguments follow a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in September, which accuses the law of violating Supreme Court precedent, namingly Roe v. Wade, which established the Constitutional right to abortions across the country.
The law, which went into effect Sept. 1, seeks to prohibit abortions after the detection of an unborn child’s heartbeat by allowing private citizens to file civil lawsuits against physicians and medical institutions that engage in abortion practices.
Although the state of Texas argued before Judge Robert Pitman that the Constitution does not prohibit laws such as SB 8 from existing, given the design of the law, the position of the Federal government is that by avoiding judicial review and delegating police powers to private citizens – rather than agencies of the government – Texas violated the constitution.
The showdown between the state of Texas and the Justice Department comes after the Supreme Court declined to block the abortion law last month by a 5-to-4 vote, with the majority reasoning that the abortion providers did not address “complex and novel antecedent procedural questions,” NPR explained. The court, however, did not rule on the constitutionality of the law, something the Justices will do during their upcoming term.
According to a press release by the Justice Department last month, the goal of the Attorney General is to obtain a declaratory judgment on the part of the Judicial Branch establishing SB 8 as being “invalid under the Supremacy Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment, is preempted by federal law, and violates the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity,” Justice.gov stated.
A ruling by the Western District of Texas is expected to be issued soon, which will most likely be appealed to the 5th Circuit if Pitman grants an injunction.
Sources: Dallas Morning News, NPR, Legiscan, Justice.gov, NPR