The Department of Justice on Monday formally requested the Supreme Court to block the Texas Heartbeat Act law that bans abortions after around six weeks of pregnancy.
In a filing with the high court, the Justice Department sought an order to suspend enforcement of Texas’s Senate Bill 8, known as SB 8, while the Biden administration’s legal challenge is being considered. The filing marks the second time the Supreme Court has been presented with the option of blocking the law, as last month, the court’s majority voted to allow it to go into effect.
“SB8 is plainly unconstitutional under this Court’s precedents,” Monday’s court filing reads (pdf). “Texas has not seriously argued otherwise.”
Allowing the law to remain in effect would “perpetuate the ongoing irreparable injury to thousands of Texas women who are being denied their constitutional rights,” the Justice Department argued.
“Texas’s insistence that no party can bring a suit challenging SB8 amounts to an assertion that the federal courts are powerless to halt the State’s ongoing nullification of federal law,” its lawyers also wrote. “That proposition is as breathtaking as it is dangerous.”
The Justice Department asserted that if Texas is found right, other “states are free to use similar schemes to nullify other precedents or suspend other constitutional rights.”
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, an Obama appointee, earlier this month granted an emergency request from the Justice Department and blocked enforcement of the law. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals later sided with Texas, lifting the judge’s order that suspended enforcement of the law.
Critics of the measure have said SB8 employs an unusual enforcement mechanism, where state officials are barred from enforcing the law. Instead, Texas residents can sue anyone—including doctors and medical staff—who provide assistance to a woman to obtain an abortion.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, has previously argued that the federal government doesn’t have the right to intervene. The Epoch Times has contacted his office for comment.