Published On: Thu, Sep 9th, 2021

Justice Department sues Texas over restrictive abortion law

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is filing a lawsuit against Texas challenging its near-total ban on abortions, which the Supreme Court declined to block last week.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday that the Justice Department filed the suit against Texas over its law, which he called “clearly unconstitutional under longstanding Supreme Court precedent.”

“The United States has the authority and the responsibility to ensure that no state can deprive individuals of their constitutional rights to a legislative scheme specifically designed to prevent the vindication of those rights,” Garland said at a news conference.

The attorney general said earlier this week that the department was exploring “all options” in responding to the law.

The law, known as Senate Bill 8, bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. It also has unique enforcement provisions allowing private citizens, rather than state officials, to sue abortion providers.

After the Supreme Court’s decision last week, President Joe Biden vowed a “whole-of-government” response to try to safeguard access to abortions in Texas. Biden directed White House legal and gender policy advisers, the DOJ and his Health and Human Services Department to evaluate what “legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas’ bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.”

The administration’s move comes as the conservative 6-3 Supreme Court majority is expected to take up a case from Mississippi in its term beginning this fall that challenges Roe v. Wade.

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