Pro-choice activists hold placards outside the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC on October 4, 2021.
Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Supreme Court on Monday accepted a request from abortion rights advocates and providers to quickly consider meeting their challenge of a restrictive Texas law that bans most abortions as early as six weeks pregnant.
Last month, the petitioners submitted the unusual request to the Supreme Court to hear the case before the final judgment of the lower courts.
If the court agrees to deal with the case on an expedited basis, it could accept briefs, hear arguments and render a decision much more quickly than if the case had to go through normal legal channels. Although the case is pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, arguments would not take place until December at the earliest, the petitioners said.
The High Court ordered the respondents in the case to file a response by noon Thursday. This is around the same time that Texas is due to file its response in a separate challenge to the law, which the Justice Department took to the Supreme Court earlier Monday.
A crucial abortion case is already scheduled for oral argument on December 1. Advocates of abortion rights fear the court, with its conservative 6-3 majority, will weaken or abolish a decades-old precedent protecting the right to abortion before fetal viability.
Texas law, which prohibits most abortions at a time when many women are not yet aware of their pregnancy, also allows private citizens to sue anyone who “aids or encourages” the proceedings. Critics say the system is effectively turning citizens into bounty hunters.
In August, Texas abortion providers and organizations filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court to prevent the state’s restrictive law, SB 8, from coming into effect on September 1. But the court did not render its decision until a few hours after the law was implemented. .
In a one-paragraph notice issued late at night, the court ruled 5-4 against the emergency injunction request, in part on procedural grounds.
The Justice Department sued Texas soon after, and earlier this month a federal judge accepted the agency’s offer to temporarily block law enforcement. “This Court will not sanction one more day this injurious deprivation of such an important right”, then declared the judge.
But an appeals court stayed the action, allowing the law to come back into force.
Earlier Monday, the DOJ asked the Supreme Court to overturn the suspension, arguing that the appeals court action “allows Texas to overturn this court’s precedents and the constitutional rights of its citizens pending. “.
The DOJ also suggested that the court add the case to its briefing and argumentation program for this warrant.