U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUS considers expediting request to hear Texas abortion case, orders quick responses

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The U.S. Supreme Court signaled Monday that it could resolve challenges to the Texas abortion law on a speedy schedule.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. ordered Texas to respond to the U.S. Department of Justice’s emergency request to block the law by Thursday.

In a separate challenge to the law by abortion providers, the high court agreed to consider a request to decide the case before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans rules on the merits. The Supreme Court also ordered Texas to respond to the clinics’ request by Thursday.

Reuters, the Texas Tribune, CNBC, SCOTUSblog, the Washington Post and the Volokh Conspiracy are among publications with coverage.

Josh Blackman, a professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, told the Texas Tribune that it’s possible that the Supreme Court could add both cases to its docket by some time next week.

The Supreme Court previously rejected abortion providers’ emergency application to block the law, which prevents abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically at about six weeks of pregnancy.

The law, known as SB 8, relies on the general public, rather than the state, for enforcement. It authorizes lawsuits by private parties who may seek $10,000 or more in damages for anyone who aids an abortion.

The Supreme Court acted after the DOJ filed an application Monday that asks the Supreme Court to vacate the 5th Circuit stay that kept the law in place. The DOJ said the law was intended to thwart suits challenging state enforcement of the law before it took effect by switching enforcement to the public.

“Texas’ insistence that no party can bring a suit challenging SB 8 amounts to an assertion that the federal courts are powerless to halt the state’s ongoing nullification of federal law. That proposition is as breathtaking as it is dangerous,” the DOJ said.

So far, the law “has worked exactly as intended” by stopping clinics from offering abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, the DOJ said.

“Texas has, in short, successfully nullified this court’s decisions within its borders,” the DOJ said.

The DOJ also told the justices that its request could be treated as a petition for certiorari before judgment by the 5th Circuit.

The DOJ case is United States v. Texas. The abortion clinics case is Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Convicted ex-lawyer files bizarre suit against doctor under Texas abortion law”

ABAJournal.com: “DOJ explores ways to challenge Texas abortion law; judge grants TRO against anti-abortion group”

ABAJournal.com: “How could the DOJ counter Texas abortion restrictions? Law prof suggests prosecution”

ABAJournal.com: “SCOTUS formally rejects request to block Texas abortion ban”

ABAJournal.com: “Abortion providers ask Supreme Court to block Texas heartbeat law from taking effect”

ABAJournal.com: “Conservative SCOTUS justices question abortion decisions but delay action on Mississippi’s viability cert petition”

ABAJournal.com: “Supreme Court should uphold precedent in Mississippi abortion case, ABA amicus brief says”

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