Federal Judge Halts Texas Abortion Law

Federal Judge Halts Texas Abortion Law

(ConservativeHub.com) – The Texas Heartbeat Act of 2021 went into effect at the stroke of midnight on September 1. Texas joined numerous other states that passed dozens of laws restricting abortion this year. Opponents of the law petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for a temporary injunction in hopes of blocking enforcement of the new rules. However, a split court voted five to four against the request in early September on the grounds the petitioners lacked standing. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the three liberal justices and authored a dissenting opinion.

The US Department of Justice followed up by filing a lawsuit attempting to block the new act. It claimed the law violated a woman’s right to an abortion under Roe v. Wade. DOJ officials followed up with a request for an injunction prohibiting the State of Texas from enforcing the measure.

On October 6, US District Court Judge Robert L. Pitman of the Western Federal District of Texas issued a 113-page ruling granting the DOJ request for a temporary injunction.

According to Pitman’s scathing ruling, Texas “unlawfully prevented” Texas women from “exercising control over their lives.” Continuing, he wrote, “This Court will not sanction [another] day of this offensive deprivation of… an important right.”

US Attorney General Merrick Garland praised the Obama appointee’s ruling, calling it “a victory for Texas women and the rule of law.” He also vowed to “protect [Americans’] constitutional rights against [anyone seeking] to undermine them.”

Background of the Case

Texas legislators cleverly excluded any provision for criminal prosecution of any person who violated the new statute. Instead, it allowed anyone not employed by a governmental agency or entity to file a lawsuit against any woman who received an abortion in violation of the act. It also introduced civil liability for anyone helping a woman obtain one illegally.

By removing the potential for enforcement of the law by governmental agencies, Texas lawmakers set the stage for SCOTUS to decline to rule on the case. Since state workers couldn’t take action against individuals who violated the law, it was next to impossible for anyone to have the proper standing to bring a case before the federal courts.

What’s Next

The Texas Attorney General’s Office already filed a notice with the Fifth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals of its intention to file an appeal asking the court to reverse Judge Pitman’s ruling. Either way, the chances are the Texas Heartbeat Act of 2021 will likely end up before the Supreme Court again.

The Supreme Court is also set to hear arguments in a Mississippi abortion case that could reverse Roe v. Wade in early December. Time will tell.

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