In 5-4 ruling, the United States Supreme Court rejected an emergency request to block Texas’ forced birth law that not only bans abortion at six weeks but allows private citizens “anywhere in the country -to bring civil suits against anyone who assists a pregnant person seeking an abortion in violation of the ban.” Texas’ new forced birth law does not provide any exceptions for rape or incest.
Chief Justice Roberts joined Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagen in dissent.
The majority opinion was brief and unsigned, and it said the providers had not made out their case in the face of “complex and novel” procedural questions.
“In reaching this conclusion,” the opinion said, “we stress that we do not purport to resolve definitively any jurisdictional or substantive claim in the applicants’ lawsuit. In particular, this order is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’ law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts.”
In his dissent, Chief Justice Roberts wrote:
“The statutory scheme before the court is not only unusual, but unprecedented,” the chief justice wrote. “The legislature has imposed a prohibition on abortions after roughly six weeks, and then essentially delegated enforcement of that prohibition to the populace at large. The desired consequence appears to be to insulate the state from responsibility for implementing and enforcing the regulatory regime.”
Justice Kagan was more direct in her dissent:
“The court’s order is stunning,” she wrote. “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.”
Justice Sotomayor wrote:
“The court has rewarded the state’s effort to delay federal review of a plainly unconstitutional statute, enacted in disregard of the court’s precedents, through procedural entanglements of the state’s own creation,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “The court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligations to protect not only the rights of women, but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law.”
A blast from the past: