In a victory for pro-lifers, the Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 this Wednesday not to stop a new Texas law banning most abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy while legal challenges to the law continue in lower courts.
A narrow majority of the justices ruled that the plaintiff failed to meet the high standard needed for the Supreme Court to give an injunction blocking a law before it takes effect.
Signed in May by Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott, Senate Bill 8 effectively stops abortions in the Lone Star State the second a fetal heartbeat is detected, which usually happens after six weeks. Since women do not often detect pregnancy before the sixth week, the law essentially bans abortions within the state. Numerous states have tried to create similar measures only to be stopped by the courts.
The majority of Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett would not issue an opinion with their ruling, so the exact reasoning of the Court is unclear, including whether the Texas law might survive a constitutional challenge when it is before the Supreme Court.
“The applicants have raised questions about the constitutionality of the Texas law,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in dissent. “But their application also gives complex and antecedent procedural questions about which they have not met their burden.”
Roberts explained his dissent was due to an injunction would freeze the status quo as the courts work through whether Texas’s law breaks a constitutional right for abortion, narrowly leaving open the option that he might vote in favor for the law later on down the road.
The three left-wing justices, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan gave strongly worded dissents against Texas’ new law.
Legal actions in the lower courts may not move forward until a citizen tries to enforce it against an abortion provider, leaving the pro-life law in effect indefinitely. The Supreme Court will also hear a top abortion case this session, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, and it is possible that this case will be held in abeyance until SCOTUS renders a ruling in that case.
Author: Steven Sinclaire