Two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court denied challenges to the Texas “heartbeat” law designed to limit abortions, the Biden administration’s Department of Justice is now demanding that the courts do what the Supreme Court said could not be done and halt the law from taking effect.
The Texas measure, signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May, bans doctors from performing abortions if the heartbeat of the unborn child can be detected. That takes place about six weeks into a pregnancy, which means the effect of the bill would be to ban most abortions.
Similar bills proposed in other states have fallen by the wayside amid legal challenges.
Texas put a new wrinkle into its law, Senate Bill 8. Instead of the state playing the role of enforcer, private citizens are allowed to sue anyone who violates the law and collect $10,000 if they win.
In an emergency court filing, the DOJ portrayed Texas legislators as having concocted a diabolical plan to undermine the Constitution.
“The State of Texas adopted S.B. 8 to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights,” the filing said, adding that “Texas has banned abortions months before viability — at a time before many women even know they are pregnant.”
The filing said the Texas law should be voided as were other states’ efforts to protect the unborn.
“When other States have enacted laws abridging reproductive rights to the extent that S.B. 8 does, courts have enjoined enforcement of the laws before they could take effect,” the filing said. “In an effort to avoid that result, Texas devised an unprecedented scheme that seeks to deny women and providers the ability to challenge S.B. 8 in federal court.
“This attempt to shield a plainly unconstitutional law from review cannot stand. The United States seeks a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of S.B. 8.”
In an effort to show why the federal agency should be interfering in a state matter that is already before the courts, the Biden Justice Department said continuing the flood of abortions unimpeded is part of the “sovereign interest of the United States in ensuring that its States respect the terms of the national compact. It is also necessary to protect federal agencies, employees, and contractors whose lawful actions S.B. 8 purports to prohibit.”
The Biden administration last week announced that it would be suing Texas over the law.
The Supreme Court decision that allowed the law to be implemented did not rule on the law’s constitutionality. In a 5-4 decision, the court said that because of procedural issues connected with an injunction sought by pro-abortion groups and the way the Texas law was designed, the injunction would not be granted.
President Joe Biden has promised to use every weapon in the government arsenal against the Texas law, according to The New York Times.
Biden said the Texas law “unleashes unconstitutional chaos.”
In responding to the lawsuit against Texas filed last week, Renae Eze, Abbott’s press secretary, said the Biden administration was trying to score political points, according to The Texas Tribune.
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