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SCOTUS Vacates Ruling in Planned Parenthood’s Texas Covid Row

Jan. 25, 2021, 2:39 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday granted Planned Parenthood’s request to vacate two Fifth Circuit decisions that allowed a Texas executive order banning abortions during the Covid-19 pandemic to go into effect.

Planned Parenthood Center for Choice argued the writs of mandamus issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to overturn lower court decisions blocking the orders were moot. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) replaced the challenged executive order with a new one that allowed abortions to resume in Texas just two days after the appeals court’s second decision, Planned Parenthood said.

The governor’s action made it impossible for Planned Parenthood to petition the Supreme Court to hear arguments over the validity of the writs, the petitioner said.

Abbott opposed review, saying Planned Parenthood had waited too long to seek vacatur. In the five months between the Fifth Circuit’s last decision and the filing of the petition, the challenged decisions were applied in other Fifth Circuit cases and “cited hundreds of times in dozens of courts across the country in a fast-developing area of law,” Abbott said.

The Supreme Court ordered the Fifth Circuit to dismiss the case as moot.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Center for Reproductive Rights, Lawyering Project, and Law Offices of Patrick J. O’Connell PLLC represented Planned Parenthood. The Texas Attorney General’s Office represented Abbott.

Planned Parenthood receives funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg Law is operated by entities controlled by Michael Bloomberg.

The case is Planned Parenthood Ctr. for Choice v. Abbott, U.S., No. 20-305, vacated 1/25/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Anne Pazanowski in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at; Nicholas Datlowe at