The Oklahoman

Justices leave Texas ban in place but leave door open for challenges.

But ruling leaves door open for other challenges

- Jessica Gresko

WASHINGTON – A deeply divided Supreme Court is allowing a Texas law that bans most abortions to remain in force, for now stripping most women of the right to an abortion in the nation’s second-largest state.

The court voted 5-4 to deny an emergency appeal from abortion providers and others who sought to block enforcemen­t of the law, which went into effect Wednesday. But the justices also suggested that their order likely isn’t the last word because other challenges to the law can still be brought.

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

It is the strictest law against abortion rights in the United States since the high court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 and 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 effect.

The 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 definitively any jurisdicti­onal or substantiv­e claim in the applicants’ lawsuit. In particular, this order is not based on any conclusion about the constitu

tionality 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. All four dissenting justices wrote separate statements.

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.”

In her dissent, Justice Elena Kagan called the law “patently unconstitu­tional,” saying it allows “private parties to carry out unconstitu­tional restrictio­ns on the State’s behalf.”

President Joe Biden on Thursday blasted the ruling and said in a statement that his administra­tion will launch a “whole-of-government effort

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” and “evaluating all options to protect the constituti­onal rights of women, including access to an abortion.”

While other abortion laws are enforced by state and local officials, with criminal sanctions possible, Texas lawmakers wrote the law to evade federal court review by allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone involved in facilitati­ng abortions in state court. That would include anyone who drives a woman to a clinic to get an abortion. Under the law, anyone who successful­ly sues another person would be entitled to at least $10,000.

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 ?? JAY JANNER/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN VIA AP ?? Leen Garza participat­es in a protest against Texas’ new abortion law at the Capitol in Austin on Wednesday.
JAY JANNER/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN VIA AP Leen Garza participat­es in a protest against Texas’ new abortion law at the Capitol in Austin on Wednesday.

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