Supreme Court grants expedited review for Texas abortion ban
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on Texas' novel abortion ban but declined for a second time to temporarily halt the law as litigation proceeds over its constitutionality.
The justices will take up a pair of challenges to the law on a highly accelerated timetable with arguments scheduled for Nov. 1, the court said in an order issued Friday.
One of the suits was filed by abortion providers who said they were intimidated by the new law’s threat of private lawsuits and civil penalties starting at $10,000 for anyone who performs an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy or aids someone in getting such an abortion. The justices, by a 5-4 vote, refused emergency relief in that case two days after the Texas law took effect last month.
The other case was brought by the Justice Department on behalf of the federal government and has the backing of President Joe Biden’s administration.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor released a partial dissent from the high court’s Friday order. She argued that the court should block the Texas law while it considers the issues involved.
Sotomayor also said the court was making a mistake by allowing Texas to keep its law in place by using a private enforcement mechanism that the law’s drafters have boasted was designed to evade quick action by the courts.
“Women seeking abortion care in Texas are entitled to relief from this Court now,” Sotomayor, an appointee of President Barack Obama, wrote. “Because of the Court’s failure to act today, that relief, if it comes, will be too late for many.”
The arguments in the Texas cases are set for a month before the court is scheduled to hear a challenge to a Mississippi law that seeks to ban abortion of fetuses older than 15 weeks.
That case is seen by advocates on both sides of the abortion debate as a direct threat to Roe v. Wade , the landmark 1973 decision that found a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. In a filing with the Supreme Court Thursday, lawyers for Texas said they believe that Roe v. Wade should be overruled, but that such a step is unnecessary to reject the challenges to their state’s unusual statute.
While litigants normally have at least a month to file briefs, and often much longer, attorneys handling the cases will have to prepare those submissions in a matter of a few days. The initial briefs, including the expected slew of amicus briefs that are filed in any abortion case, are due by Wednesday afternoon.