SCOTUS allows lawsuit challenging Texas abortion ban to proceed but keeps law in effect

Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Samuel Alito, and Brett Kavanaugh backed Gorsuch's opinion in full.


The Supreme Court on Friday morning ruled that a lawsuit launched by abortion providers against Texas over the state's abortion law may proceed.

SCOTUS also let the law remain in effect pending the legal challenges. The ruling is procedural and will not be the final word on the law's constitutionality.

"The Court concludes that the petitioners may pursue a pre-enforcement challenge against certain of the named defendants but not others," the court said.

"The petitioners then filed a request for injunctive relief with the Court, seeking emergency resolution of their application ahead of [the law's] approaching effective date," the court said. "In the abbreviated time available for review, the Court concluded that the petitioners’ filings failed to identify a basis in existing law that could justify disturbing the Fifth Circuit’s decision to deny injunctive relief."

The court's opinion, led by Justice Neil Gorsuch, was backed by Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Samuel Alito, and Brett Kavanaugh in full.

Furthermore, the court dismissed a challenge by the Department of Justice against the Texas bill on Friday, meaning that only the suit by private parties will go forward against the law, with the potential to invalidate at a later time.

Justice Clarence Thomas joined the court's controlling opinion in part and dissented in part, according to Fox News. Thomas agreed with the dismissal of the case against some defendants, but also argued "there is no freestanding constitutional right to pre-enforcement review in federal court."

"Given the ongoing chilling effect of the state law, the District Court should resolve this litigation and enter appropriate relief without delay," commented Chief Justice John Roberts who was backed by Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor in an opinion that argued other officials besides those allowed by the court's opinion should be allowed to be sued.

There was very little discussion of whether the Supreme Court should block enforcement of the Texas abortion law as litigation proceeds.

A Texas judge ruled Thursday that the controversial state law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy violates the state's constitution for permitting private citizens to sue abortion providers. Thursday's ruling by Texas state District Court Judge David Peeples doesn't stop the law from being enforced and arrived ahead of the Supreme Court's decision on the Texas legislation.

Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion group that had campaigned for the abortion ban, vowed in a social media statement to appeal the judge's ruling.


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