SCOTUS Breaks Silence, Dashes Hopes As Conservatives Let Texas Abortion Ban Stand

September 2, 2021
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Neil M. Gorsuch (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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September 2, 2021

In yet more late-night happenings, most of the conservative contingent of the Supreme Court let the Texas abortion ban stand just before midnight Wednesday.

The law went into effect early Wednesday morning, which has now left the second largest state in the country with virtually no access to legal abortions. The law bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before many people even know that they’re pregnant.

Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch declined to grant abortion providers’ motion for relief in one long, unsigned paragraph.

The Texas law was crafted purposefully to make lawsuits difficult, as the law will be carried out by individual vigilantes and not state officials — therefore leaving no clear person to sue, at least before an individual has brought a suit against anyone “aiding or abetting” a post-six week abortion. The conservatives clung to that as rationale for denying the injunction.

Chief Justice John Roberts and the three liberal justices all wrote individual dissents.

“The court’s order is stunning,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote scathingly. “Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.”

What's Happening:

  • Abortion providers in Texas appealed to the Supreme Court over the weekend, after the ultra-conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals cancelled a district-level hearing and denied their emergency motions
  • The law went into effect September 1 after the Supreme Court failed to act
  • The Justices broke their silence late Wednesday night, with five of the conservatives (minus Roberts, who sided with the liberals) upholding the ban
  • The ban flies in the face of the precedent established in Roe v. Wade and reaffirmed in Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which grant the constitutional right to an abortion before the fetus is viable, or able to survive outside the uterus, a point generally considered to be reached at 24 weeks
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In yet more late-night happenings, most of the conservative contingent of the Supreme Court let the Texas abortion ban stand just before midnight Wednesday.

The law went into effect early Wednesday morning, which has now left the second largest state in the country with virtually no access to legal abortions. The law bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before many people even know that they’re pregnant.

Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch declined to grant abortion providers’ motion for relief in one long, unsigned paragraph.

The Texas law was crafted purposefully to make lawsuits difficult, as the law will be carried out by individual vigilantes and not state officials — therefore leaving no clear person to sue, at least before an individual has brought a suit against anyone “aiding or abetting” a post-six week abortion. The conservatives clung to that as rationale for denying the injunction.

Chief Justice John Roberts and the three liberal justices all wrote individual dissents.

“The court’s order is stunning,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote scathingly. “Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.”

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