USA TODAY US Edition
DOJ seeks emergency order to block Texas ban
The Justice Department is seeking an emergency court order to block the enforcement of a new Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks.
Government lawyers sought the relief late Tuesday, just days after suing the state over the restrictive abortion law decried by the Biden administration as a denial of basic reproductive health care for women.
In the Tuesday filing, Justice argued that urgent action was necessary because the state had “devised an unprecedented scheme that seeks to deny women and providers the ability to challenge (the law) in federal court.”
“This attempt to shield a plainly unconstitutional law from review cannot stand,” the Justice filing said.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, announcing the legal challenge last week, cast the law known as SB 8 as “clearly unconstitutional under longstanding Supreme Court precedent.”
This “scheme to nullify the Constitution” is one that all Americans, whatever their politics, should fear, Garland said.
The Texas law effectively bans abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually at six weeks of pregnancy. The law doesn’t include exceptions for abortion, such as for rape or incest, but allows women to have the procedure for “medical emergencies.”
Another contentious provision of the measure allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone involved in “aiding and abetting” abortions, which Garland said would encourage vigilantes to seek bounties for bringing successful legal action.
The federal lawsuit asserts that “the state has deputized ordinary citizens to serve as bounty hunters who are statutorily authorized to recover at least $10,000 per claim from individuals who facilitate a woman’s exercise of her constitutional rights.”