By MARK SHERMAN
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court on Friday upheld an abortion ban in Texas and offered just a little light to challenge the state’s most restrictive abortion law for clinics.
A week after the court announced it would overturn the abortion right and possibly overturn an important decision against Roe and Wade, the decision was met with concern by abortion rights advocates, but was praised by the opposition.
Five conservative judges, including three appointed by former President Donald Trump, formed a majority to limit the number of individuals who can be prosecuted by clinics, resulting in both sides arguing that federal courts should effectively block the law. ‘
Texas licensing officials can be prosecuted, but not state judges, court clerks, or state Attorney General Ken Paxton, according to a court order. This unusual structure of Texas law exempts people from going to court for about six weeks after abortion clinics and heart activity in the embryo is detected, and before some women find out, anyone who “helped or recommended” an abortion. . we are pregnant.
“The Supreme Court actually turned Texas’ obscene plan green and prevented federal courts from blocking the unconstitutional law, ”the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents Texas clinics, said on Twitter.
The court acted more than a month later after hearing a debate on a law that does not exclude rape or marriage between relatives.
The law has been in effect for about three months since Sept. 1. The Supreme Court’s ruling against Ro and Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide, has been in effect since 1973.
Judge Neil Gorsuch, who has consistently voted against abortion rights, did not mention Roni in his main opinion in court on Friday. Gorsuch is one of Trump’s appointees, along with judges Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Connie Barrett.
Abortion providers are now trying to drive them into the same legal dumbbell that they used to be frustrated with. A federal judge who once blocked a law known as SB 8 is asked to do so again. Her decision will then be reviewed by the U.S. District Court of Appeals, which has twice voted to allow an abortion ban.
Anyway, everyone can go back to court, and so far the five-member court has not voted five to suspend the law while the legal battle continues.
“The court should have put an end to this madness a few months ago before SB 8 first came into force. It failed to do so then and failed again today,” Judge Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a separate opinion on Friday.
A conservative majority of the court may overturn the abortion right in the Mississippi case, which was discussed last week, but the decision is not expected until spring.
If Roe is repealed, the fight under Texas law won’t matter much, as Texas is one of 12 states in the world after Roe to have an abortion law.
Friday’s Supreme Court ruling came a day after a Texas court judge ruled that applying the law, which rewards offenders by awarding them $ 10,000 in damages, is unconstitutional but upheld the law.
The legal struggle under Texas law focuses on its unusual structure and the fact that the law incorrectly restricts appeals to the courts. Texas lawmakers have shifted the responsibility for enforcing the law to private citizens, not government officials.
The law allows clinics, doctors, and other individuals who perform or assist in a prohibited abortion to sue. The case raised complex issues about the usual way of dealing with abortion restrictions, which anyone could sue in federal court under the law. In fact, federal courts routinely uphold similar laws that rely on traditional enforcement by state and local governments.
The Supreme Court voted 8 to 1 on Friday, allowing the clinics to continue their lawsuit against the ban, only Judge Clarence Thomas voted otherwise. But the court was sharply divided on the issue of who should be targeted by the court decision, which allegedly tried to block the law. Judges ruled that Texas licensing officials could be prosecuted, but rejected lawsuits against state judges, court clerks and the state attorney general.
Gorsuch writes that abortionists must follow the rules that apply to people with other constitutional rights. “The court has strictly enforced these requirements, whether the law restricts freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to bear arms or other rights,” he said. Applicants do not have special privileges, ”Gorsuch wrote.
Chief Justice John Roberts and three liberal judges were dissatisfied with this part of the decision, saying that the purpose of Texas law on abortion is to “overturn these court decisions.”
In September, four judges who had previously refused to block the law were exceptional.
“The nature of the violated federal law does not matter; The role of the Supreme Court in our constitutional system is in jeopardy, ”Roberts wrote.
Roberts called on U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman to “provide appropriate assistance without delay” after an appeals court overturned a previous order to block the law.
Sotomayor also punished his colleagues for “catastrophic consequences for women seeking to exercise their constitutional right to abortion in Texas.” He said the court’s decision closed the most direct way to appeal the law and to “reinstate the Texas scheme in the future” to allow other states to exercise any right recognized by that court. paves the way for recovery and improvement. ” I don’t agree. “
Since its entry into force in September, the law has imposed the most restrictive restrictions on abortions in the country since the Supreme Court first declared a woman’s right to abortion in its 1973 ruling against Roe and Wade.
A study published by University of Texas researchers found that in the first month of Texas law, the number of abortions across the state dropped by 50 percent compared to September 2020. The study is based on data from 19 of the state’s 24 abortion clinics. Texas Policy Assessment Project.
According to a separate study by the Guttmacher Institute, some citizens who left the state to have an abortion were forced to move out of neighboring states, where clinics could not cope with the increase in patients in Texas.
After a court vote in September, the Department of Justice filed its lawsuit under Texas law. On Friday, the judges rejected the claim, which raised particularly complex legal issues.