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Justice Sonia Sotomayor blasts Supreme Court's handling of Texas abortion case as a 'disaster for the rule of law and a grave disservice to women'

Business Insider
Business Insider
 2022-01-20

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks at Tufts University on September 12, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Justice Sotomayor wrote a dissent to the Supreme Court rejecting a request from Texas abortion providers.
  • "This case is a disaster for the rule of law and a grave disservice to women in Texas," Sotomayor wrote.
  • Texas abortion providers had asked the Supreme Court to intervene in their legal challenge.

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Thursday wrote a fiery dissent to the Supreme Court's decision to reject another request from Texas abortion providers seeking to block the state's six-week ban on abortions.

"Today, for the fourth time, this Court declines to protect pregnant Texans from egregious violations of their constitutional rights," Sotomayor, who's served on the bench since 2009, wrote in a dissenting opinion joined by fellow liberal Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.

Texas abortion providers had asked the Supreme Court to intervene in their legal challenge against the six-week law by sending the case back to a federal district court, which previously declared the law as unconstitutional. But the Supreme Court's conservative majority, without providing any reasoning, denied their request.

The decision represents a setback to Texas abortion providers that have been trying to block the law for months.

"This case is a disaster for the rule of law and a grave disservice to women in Texas, who have a right to control their own bodies. I will not stand by silently as a State continues to nullify this constitutional guarantee," Sotomayor wrote.

The Supreme Court has largely sidestepped the case as litigation continues in the lower courts. In a ruling last month, the nation's highest court allowed Texas abortion providers to proceed with a federal lawsuit against some state officials, but let the law stand in the meantime, dealing a blow to abortion-rights supporters.

The legal challenge returned to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most conservative federal appeals courts in the country, which on Monday sent the case to the Texas Supreme Court. The move is widely expected to delay the case, which in turn would keep the law in place for longer.

The Texas law in question, known as SB 8, is the most restrictive abortion statute in the nation and bans the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy, a time when many women do not yet know they are pregnant.

The Supreme Court has also not directly considered the constitutionality of the law, which abortion-rights supporters say is in direct conflict with Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide and guaranteed the right to the procedure up until around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

A slew of Republican-led states over the years have unsuccesfully tried to enact abortion restrictions. But since the Texas law took effect on September 1, it has managed to survive legal challenges because of its unique design, which calls on private citizens, rather than state officials, to enforce the ban. That means any individual can sue an abortion provider or anyone who they believe "aids and abets" someone getting an abortion beyond the six-week mark, leaving state officials out of the equation. Successful plaintiffs will be rewarded at least $10,000, in addition to legal fees.

In her dissent, Sotomayor wrote that the Supreme Court "allows the State yet again to extend the deprivation of the federal constitutional rights of its citizens through procedural manipulation."

"The Court may look the other way, but I cannot," she added.

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Comments / 119

MCic(Me)
01-21

Has Sotomayor made a public statement correcting her false statement about the number of children hospitalized with Covid? Imagine a Supreme Court judge casting a vote based on false information.

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Bruce Bentley
01-21

she is supposed to be a judge on our Supreme Court. However is and was an activist when chosen. She is a disservice to the American people.

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DB
01-21

She needs removed from the bench. How can a Supreme Court justice rant and rave about it being a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion because it’s her body her choice yet just the other day back and support having mandates for vaccines. If abortion is legal constitutionally then so is refusing to take a vaccine. In addition I always love the argument that I am not a woman so it’s not something I should have an opinion about. Well last time I checked the woman is a vessel that is holding secretions from my body so the choice should not only be hers. If it is solely her body her choice then child support laws need changed.

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