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Justice Department to ask Supreme Court to block Texas abortion law

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration will ask the Supreme Court to block a Texas law that bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy as the challenge progresses, a Justice Department spokesperson said on Friday.

A United States Court of Appeals ruling for the Fifth Circuit on Thursday upheld its own previous order last week that temporarily allowed the law to be re-enforced, overturning an Austin Federal District judge who had temporarily blocked its application.

“The Department of Justice intends to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the suspension of the Fifth Circuit of the preliminary injunction against Bill 8 of the Texas Senate,” said spokesman Anthony Coley , in a press release.

The 2-to-1 decision by a three-judge appeals committee has inflicted a major setback on the Biden administration as it seeks to overturn a law that virtually ended abortions in the state of Texas.

Texas law, one of the strictest in the country, prohibits abortions when heart activity is detected, which occurs around six weeks pregnant, a time when women may not yet know they are pregnant. . Nor does it make an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

The law immediately stopped most abortions in Texas when it came into effect in early September, after the Supreme Court refused to intervene. Demand at clinics in neighboring states like Oklahoma has increased as women in Texas seeking abortions after six weeks of pregnancy have been forced to travel out of state.

The Justice Department is suing Texas for the Single Law Enforcement Mechanism, which it says violates the Constitution by using private parties to enforce the law, rather than the state. This allows Texas to technically comply with court rulings that say states cannot ban abortion.

The law encourages private parties to sue anyone accused of performing or assisting in an abortion that violates the law by awarding $ 10,000 to successful plaintiffs.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland called the enforcement mechanism an “unprecedented” effort to prevent women from their constitutionally protected right to abortion.

The department argued in its lawsuit that Texas law is invalid under the supremacy clause of the Constitution, which prioritizes federal law over state law, and under guarantees of equal protection of the 14th Amendment.

Last week, a Federal District judge granted the department’s request to suspend law enforcement as the court challenge makes its way through the court system, offering a short-lived victory for the Biden administration. But two days later, the appeal board intervened.

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