U.S. Supreme Court justices grappled with the power of the federal judiciary to block Texas’ ban on abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy as they kicked off a high-stakes argument that will shape the future of reproductive rights.
The justices are weighing whether abortion providers and the Justice Department can stop the law despite an unusual provision Texas included to try to insulate the measure from judicial review. Texas made the law enforceable only through private lawsuits so that courts wouldn’t have a clear-cut way to block it.
“That seems to me to raise a real problem under the case or controversy requirement,” Roberts said to
“It is easier to say that we are adverse to clerks,” Hearron said later, under questioning from Justice
The justices are hearing more than two hours of argument Monday after
Dozens of demonstrators on both sides of the issue gathered outside the Supreme Court ahead of the arguments. Opponents of the Texas law held signs reading “Bans off our bodies” and “Keep our clinics” while supporters held signs that said, “Let their hearts beat.”
The Supreme Court let the law
The statute bars abortion after fetal cardiac activity can be detected and puts infringing clinics at risk of being shut down. The law lets private parties sue a clinic or anyone who helps a woman get an abortion -- and collect a minimum of $10,000 in damages per procedure -- but doesn’t authorize government officials to sue alleged violators.
Texas says the Constitution doesn’t guarantee pre-enforcement review of laws in federal court. The state says those opposed to the law can make their constitutional arguments after being sued in state court for violating the measure.
The Justice Department and abortion providers say the state is using an unprecedented ploy to nullify the court’s abortion-rights precedents. The department says it has the right to vindicate the supremacy of federal law, including the Constitution.
The Justice Department case is U.S. v. Texas, 21-588. The provider case is Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, 21-463.
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