The US Justice Department has sued the state of Texas over a restrictive abortion law, following the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in favor of the constitutionality of the bill.
US President Joe Biden has made combating the bill a top priority for his administration.
The lawsuit by the Justice Department has been expected since the abortion bill went into effect on September 1st.
In Attorney General Merrick Garland’s news conference to announce the measure, he clarified the grounds of the lawsuit, saying that the bill “is invalid under the Supremacy Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment, is preempted by federal law and violates the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity.” Garland added that the “United States has the responsibility to ensure that no state can deprive individuals of their constitutional rights.”
The US Attorney General also voiced his concern that the abortion law had effectively deputized private citizens to serve as bounty hunters, and that the law, if successful, could become a model for similar repressive actions in other areas. The DOJ believes, “Texas adopted an unprecedented scheme ‘to insulate the state from responsibility,’…by making the state harder to challenge in court,” and is seeking a preliminary injunction against Texas.
The so-called ‘heartbeat bill’ by Texas GOP lawmakers was able to circumvent a previous federal law, Roe v. Wade, by placing the enforcement of the law in the hands of private citizens. Roe v. Wade prevents federal and state governments from banning abortions on the grounds that women, through the due process clause, have the right to privacy that protects their control over their bodies as to whether or not to have an abortion. The decision makes no reference to the constitutionality of a private citizen’s ability to forcibly prevent an abortion.
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