The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

Biden blasts Supreme Court failure to block Texas abortion curb


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday blasted the Supreme Court’s decision not to block a new Texas law banning most abortions in the state and directed federal agencies to do what they can to “insulate women and providers” from the impact.

Hours earlier, in the middle of the night, a deeply divided high court allowed the law to remain in force. It is the nation’s biggest curb to abortion rights since the court announced in its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that women have a constituti­onal right to abortion.

The court voted 5-4 to deny an emergency appeal from abortion providers and others but also suggested that their order likely wasn’t the last word and other challenges can be brought.

Biden said in a statement that his administra­tion will launch a “whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision” and look at “what steps the federal government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe.“

Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that the Justice Department was “deeply concerned” about the Texas law and “evaluating all options to protect the constituti­onal rights of women, including access to an abortion.”

Biden, who has come under pressure from Democrats to expand the size of the Supreme Court, has ordered a review of the court that is due next month.

The Texas law, signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May, prohibits abortions once medical profession­als can detect cardiac activity, usually around six weeks and before many women know they’re pregnant.

The law is part of a broader push by Republican­s nationwide to impose new restrictio­ns on abortion. At least 12 other states have enacted bans early in pregnancy, but all have been blocked from going into effect.

The high court’s order declining to halt the Texas law came just before midnight Wednesday. The majority said those bringing the case had not met the high burden required for a stay of the law.

“In reaching this conclusion, we stress that we do not purport to resolve definitive­ly any jurisdicti­onal or substantiv­e claim in the applicants’ lawsuit. In particular, this order is not based on any conclusion about the constituti­onality of Texas’s law, and in no way limits other procedural­ly proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts,” the unsigned order said.

Chief Justice John Roberts dissented along with the court’s three liberal justices. Each of the four wrote a statement expressing disagreeme­nt with the majority.

Roberts noted that while the majority denied the request for emergency relief “the court’s order is emphatic in making clear that it cannot be understood as sustaining the constituti­onality of the law at issue.”

Separately, the justices are planning to tackle the issue in a major case when they begin hearing arguments again in the fall. That case involves the state of Mississipp­i, which is asking to be allowed to enforce an abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The vote in the Texas case underscore­s the impact of the death of the liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last year and then-president Donald Trump’s replacemen­t of her with conservati­ve Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

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