Justice Department Files Emergency Motion to Stop Texas Abortion Law Enforcement

The Justice Department filed an emergency motion Tuesday evening to prevent Texas from complying with its recently passed law banning almost all abortions in the state.

“This attempt to protect from review a clearly unconstitutional law cannot be supported,” the motion says. “The United States is requesting a temporary restraining order or preliminary instruction imposing the execution of SB 8. This relief is necessary to protect the constitutional rights of women in Texas and the sovereign interest of the United States to ensure that their States respect the terms of the national pact “.

“The United States has the authority and responsibility to ensure that Texas cannot isolate itself from judicial review for its constitutional violations and to protect important federal interests that harm SB 8. Accordingly, this Court should prohibit the execution of SB 8 “, the motion continued.

Texas law, known as SB8, prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually about six weeks before some women know they are pregnant. Courts have blocked the imposition of similar restrictions in other states, but Texas law differs significantly because it leaves enforcement to private citizens through civil lawsuits rather than criminal prosecutions.


FILE: The U.S. Department of Justice stamp on a podium in Washington, DC (Samuel Corum / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

RELATED: The Justice Department is filing a lawsuit against Texas over the abortion law

The emergency filing comes just a week after the Justice Department announced it would sue the state of Texas for the new law.

The lawsuit, filed in Texas federal court on Sept. 9, asked a federal judge to declare the law invalid, “to demand its enforcement and protect the rights that Texas has violated.”

“The act is clearly unconstitutional under the long-standing Supreme Court precedent,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit.

Under Texas law, someone could file a lawsuit, even if it has nothing to do with the woman aborting, and could be entitled to at least $ 10,000 in damages if they prevail in court.

Texas law is the nation’s largest limit on abortion since the Supreme Court ruled in the decisive Roe 1973 decision against Wade that women have a constitutional right to abortion.

Abortion providers have said they will comply, but already some of Texas’ roughly two dozen abortion clinics have temporarily stopped offering abortion services. Meanwhile, clinics in neighboring states have seen an increase in Texas patients.

The Justice Department argues that the law illegally violates women’s constitutional rights and violates the supremacy clause of the Constitution, which says federal law replaces state law. Federal officials are also concerned that other states may enact similar laws that would “deprive their citizens of their constitutional rights,” he said.

“It’s an established constitutional law that” a state can’t ban any woman from making the final decision to terminate a pregnancy before it’s viable, “the lawsuit says.” But Texas has done exactly that. “

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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