GOVERNMENT

Supreme Court to hear arguments on Texas’ abortion law Nov. 1

Oct 22, 2021, 11:04 AM | Updated: 11:59 am
WASHINGTON, D.C. - APRIL 19, 2018:  The U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., is the sea...
WASHINGTON, D.C. - APRIL 19, 2018: The U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., is the seat of the Supreme Court of the United States and the Judicial Branch of government. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is not immediately blocking the Texas law that bans most abortions, but has agreed to hear arguments in the case in early November.

The justices said Friday they will decide whether the federal government has the right to sue over the law. Answering that question will help determine whether the law should be blocked while legal challenges continue. The court is moving at an unusually fast pace that suggests it plans to make a decision quickly. Arguments are set for Nov. 1.

The court’s action leaves in place for the time being a law that clinics say has led to an 80% reduction in abortions in the nation’s second-largest state.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that she would have blocked the law now.

“The promise of future adjudication offers cold comfort, however, for Texas women seeking abortion care, who are entitled to relief now,” Sotomayor wrote.

The law has been in effect since September, aside from a district court-ordered pause that lasted just 48 hours, and bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks and before some women know they are pregnant.

That’s well before the Supreme Court’s major abortion decisions allow states to prohibit abortion, although the court has agreed to hear an appeal from Mississippi asking it to overrule those decisions, in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

But the Texas law was written to evade early federal court review by putting enforcement of it into the hands of private citizens, rather than state officials.

The focus of the high court arguments will not be on the abortion ban, but whether the Justice Department can sue and obtain a court order that effectively prevents the law from being enforced, the Supreme Court said in its brief order.

If the law stays in effect, “no decision of this Court is safe. States need not comply with, or even challenge, precedents with which they disagree. They may simply outlaw the exercise of whatever rights they disfavor,” the Biden administration wrote in a brief filed earlier in the day.

Other state-enforced bans on abortion before the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks, have been blocked by courts because they conflict with Supreme Court precedents.

“Texas should not obtain a different result simply by pairing its unconstitutional law with an unprecedented enforcement scheme designed to evade the traditional mechanisms for judicial review,” the administration wrote.

A day earlier, the state urged the court to leave the law in place, saying the federal government lacked the authority to file its lawsuit challenging the Texas ban.

The Justice Department filed suit over the law after the Supreme Court rejected an earlier effort by abortion providers to put the measure on hold temporarily.

In early October, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ruled for the administration, putting the law on hold and allowing abortions to resume.

Two days later, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put the law back into effect.

The court already is hearing arguments on Dec. 1 in the Mississippi case in which that state is calling for the court to overrule the Roe and Casey decisions.

Today’s Top Stories

Government

FILE - Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at a news conference at the Justice Department in Wa...
The Associated Press

Justice Department sues Texas over new redistricting maps

Texas is being sued by the Justice Department over its redistricting maps.
21 hours ago
...
Curt Gresseth

Dropping ‘Big Lie’ a good first step toward compromise, says former Arizona senator

A first step toward compromise for Republicans is dropping the "Big Lie" about the last presidential election, says former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake who is about to be sworn in as the next ambassador to Turkey.
21 hours ago
FILE - Presidential hopeful Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., speaks to supporter's in LeMars, Iowa., Feb. 10,...
Mark Jones

Utah’s elected leaders react to the passing of former Sen. Bob Dole

Many of Utah's elected leaders took to social media Sunday to express their thoughts on the passing of former United States Senator Bob Dole.
2 days ago
President Joe Biden speaks to members of the media before boarding Air Force One at Minneapolis-Sai...
Curt Gresseth

Analyst discusses how inflation is likely eroding Biden’s numbers

As prices on grocery items tick up, President Joe Biden's approval ratings are sinking.
3 days ago
rep. paul ray...
Eliza Craig

Lawmaker Paul Ray to resign from Utah House of Representatives

Thursday morning, Utah lawmaker Paul Ray, a Clearfield Republican, announced his plans to resign from the Utah House of Representatives.
5 days ago
President Joe Biden speaks to members of the media before boarding Air Force One at Minneapolis-Sai...
The Associated Press

US moving to toughen testing requirement for international travelers

The US is moving to make COVID-19 testing more difficult for travelers
7 days ago
Supreme Court to hear arguments on Texas’ abortion law Nov. 1