U.S. Supreme Court Justices Concerned About Impact Of Texas Abortion Law On Other Constitutional Rights

AUSTIN (Nexstar) – On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard two cases aimed at blocking Texas’ controversial abortion law that state lawmakers passed last spring.

The law, Senate Bill 8, allows individuals to sue anyone who aids or encourages an abortion after heart activity is detected in the womb, which can occur as early as six weeks pregnant.

The Supreme Court has already dismissed lawsuits aimed at blocking the law before it officially comes into force in September.

On Monday, the court considered procedural issues relating to the law, not the substance of the law itself.

In the first of the two cases, Whole Woman’s Health argued that Texas abortion law has made providers so afraid of performing an abortion that it denies access to women statewide.

“No one is doing abortion in Texas right now. It’s too heavy on the legalities, ”Texas OBGYN’s Dr Nancy Binford said ahead of Monday’s hearing.

Kim Schwartz of Texas Right to Life, however, said the bill is already saving lives. “Last year, [Texas] went to about 150 to 160 [abortions] per day. With the Heartbeat Act, about 85 to 90% of abortions took place after six weeks of pregnancy, ”said Schwartz.

Judges on Monday called it a new law. That’s because state lawmakers wrote it down to empower citizens to enforce it, and don’t make those subsequent abortions a felony, it just opens the floodgates for civil lawsuits.

Six of the nine judges, including two Conservatives, expressed concerns about the ripple effect the legislation could have.

“Essentially, we would call on the states, all 50 with regard to their own preferred constitutional rights, to try to overturn the law this Court has enacted as to the content of those rights. I mean, it was something that before this law was passed, no state thought of doing it, ”said Liberal Judge Elena Kagan.

“There is nothing the Supreme Court can do about it. Guns, same sex, marriage, religious rights, whatever you don’t like. Go ahead, ”she continued.

“With Brown against the Board of Education, a state could have circumvented the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown by allowing anyone to sue for $ 10,000 or more, someone bringing a school into federal courts would have been completely powerless to do anything about it, ”Mark Heron, senior attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said after the hearing.

That’s why the Justice Department is also stepping in by taking its own legal action to try to block the law.

When Judge Kavanaugh asked the Texas attorney, ‘Would this law also be available to block the enforcement of gun rights to block the enforcement of free speech rights? And after a bit of hemming and haling, and the Texas attorney said, “Yeah, that’s a pretty big concession,” said Steve Vladeck, chairman Charles Alan Wright of federal law school courts. from the University of Texas.

Vladeck, an expert on federal courts and constitutional law, said that if SCOTUS decides to go ahead with the supplier lawsuit, it will mean dropping the DOJ case.

“The whole theory of the federal government here is that they are specifically allowed to sue because no one else can,” Vladeck explained.

Although there is no official timetable set by the court and it could normally take months, Vladeck said SCOTUS could announce a decision in the coming days.

“The tribunal gave 10 days from when a review was granted until the argument was heard, I think it won’t be more than that before we have the decisions in these cases, and probably a little less. . And I think it’s possible that we may know more by the end of the week about the fate of SB 8, ”Vladeck said.

This is the fastest High Court case since Bush v Gore in December 2000.

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