The Biden administration asked a federal court to take swift action and block enforcement of Texas’s new “unprecedented” abortion law.
The Justice Department filed an emergency motion in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas late Tuesday, requesting either a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction to impede the law — which would allow individuals to bring a civil action against anyone who performs or “aids or abets” an abortion after six weeks of gestation.
“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 department wrote in its filing. “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 relief is necessary to protect the constitutional rights of women in Texas and the sovereign interest of the United States,” the filing said.
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 on Sept. 2 to allow Texas’s law to stay in place on procedural grounds, not on the basis of the law’s legal merits, denying an emergency appeal from abortion providers to block it based on Roe v. Wade and other abortion rights precedents.
The court’s three liberal justices balked at the court’s decision. Justice Sonia Sotomayor called it “stunning.” Chief Justice John Roberts joined their dissent.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a lawsuit against Texas on Thursday on the heels of outrage by many prominent Democrats, including President Joe Biden. Garland said the intention of the law “is to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights by thwarting judicial review for as long as possible.”
Congressional Democrats have responded by urging a codification of Roe’s abortion protections into law. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed to bring a vote on such a measure in the wake of the high court’s ruling.