CV NEWS FEED // The Supreme Court issued a ruling Friday on the Texas Heartbeat Act which prohibits most abortions. The Court allowed the legislation to remain in place, while also permitting abortion clinics to legally challenge its enforcement.
According to the opinion, authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, abortion groups may not sue Texas court judges and clerks or the state’s attorney general over the law. In addition, the Court left untouched the Heartbeat law’s enforcement via lawsuits by private citizens against anyone who aids or abets criminal abortions.
The “ultimate merits question—whether S. B. 8 is consistent with the Federal Constitution—is not before the Court,” Gorsuch wrote. The Court also dismissed on the same day a challenge against the Heartbeat law by the Biden administration’s Justice Department.
“The decision … was greeted with dismay by abortion rights supporters but praise by opponents,” the Associated Press reported:
Five conservative justices, including three appointed by former President Donald Trump, formed a majority to limit who can be sued by the clinics, a result that both sides said probably will prevent federal courts from effectively blocking the law.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined the three liberal justices in dissenting against Friday’s decision, and framed it as an overreach of the Court’s authority over abortion.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a remarkably heated dissent, referring to support for the pro-life Texas law as “madness” which the Court should have put an end to before the legislation could ever be enforced, and decrying what she called the “catastrophic” effects of the law for women.
The Biden administration has worked furiously against the pro-life law since before it went into effect. As CatholicVote reported, “President Joe Biden blasted the Supreme Court, as well as the law itself, after the high court declined emergency requests from abortion groups to bar the Lone Star state from enforcing the law on Sept 1.”
“The Supreme Court’s ruling overnight is an unprecedented assault on constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade,” the president stated Sept. 2:
…I am launching a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision — looking specifically to HHS and DOJ to see what steps the federal government can take to insulate those in Texas from this law and ensure access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe.
Since then, the administration has fulfilled that threat, dogging the Texas law through state and federal courts, and working alongside abortion groups bringing their own challenges — all with no lasting success.
After Friday’s Supreme Court decision, the AP reported: “Abortion providers will now attempt to run the same legal gantlet that has previously frustrated them.”