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Justice Department wants judge to temporarily block Texas abortion ban: NPR


In this August 5, 2021 file photo, Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at a press conference at the Department of Justice in Washington.

Andrew Harnik / AP


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Andrew Harnik / AP

The Justice Department has asked a Texas federal judge to temporarily block enforcement of the state’s new law that bans abortions after about six weeks.

The move, a major move by the Biden administration against the controversial law, follows a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department last week. The Biden administration on Tuesday night asked the court to implement the preliminary injunction while the trial proceeds in federal court.

Texas’ abortion ban essentially stops the procedure in the nation’s second largest state. Most people don’t know they are pregnant for six weeks.

In court documents, attorneys for the Department of Justice have said the Texas law, also known as SB 8, is unconstitutional and cannot stand.

A preliminary injunction “is necessary to protect the constitutional rights of women in Texas and the sovereign interest of the United States in ensuring that its states live up to the terms of the national pact,” the lawyers said. “There is also a need to protect federal agencies, employees and contractors whose legal actions SB 8 claims to prohibit.”

The law was drafted to make it difficult for legal challenges by supporters of the right to abortion. It is considered the strictest in the country, in part because it allows individuals to sue anyone perceived to help patients obtain an abortion. Nor does it make exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

Lawyers for the Department of Justice told the court in its filing on Tuesday that the law “was designed to create jurisdictional barriers to the ability of women and providers to sue to protect their rights.”

Despite these obstacles, the Department of Justice believes that the federal government “has the authority and responsibility to ensure that Texas cannot evade judicial review for its constitutional violations and to protect important federal interests as SB 8 infringes “.