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Supreme Court Will Consider First Of Two Abortion Laws Monday

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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion


The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases on Monday that directly challenge the Texas abortion law that bans most abortions after nearly six weeks of pregnancy.

The two cases, Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson and United States v. Texas, challenge the Texas abortion law.

The court will hear arguments surrounding concerns around the structure of the Texas law rather than whether the law violates Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

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“I’m sure that the chief justice would rather go fairly slowly. That tends to be his inclination in these situations,” said Paul Smith, a Georgetown University law professor and appellate attorney who has argued frequently before the justices.

“But there will be some justices who are impatient to get to the final determination of the validity of Roe. I could imagine a situation where you have three liberals saying those should be upheld; three saying we don’t need to address that question yet; and three saying it obviously should be overruled,” Smith added.

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Last month, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is not happy about the court refusing to block Texas’ six-week abortion law.

According to The Hill, Sotomayor has called it “catastrophic” that Texas’ abortion ban law has not been stopped.

In a seven-page written rant, Sotomayor not only attacked her conservative colleagues, she sensationally claimed that the court “cannot capture the totality of this harm in these pages.”

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“But as these excerpts illustrate, the State (empowered by this Court’s inaction) has so thoroughly chilled the exercise of the right recognized in Roe as to nearly suspend it within its borders and strain access to it in other States,” Sotomayor wrote. “The State’s gambit has worked. The impact is catastrophic.”

“None of this is seriously in dispute. These circumstances are exceptional. Women seeking abortion care in Texas are entitled to relief from this Court now,” Sotomayor added. “Because of the Court’s failure to act today, that relief, if it comes, will be too late for many.”

Democrats are still reeling after the Supreme Court agreed to hear challenges to a controversial Texas abortion law.

In briefs filed before the nation’s highest court, Texas officials argued that justices should reconsider the legality and constitutionality of the highly debated Roe v. Wade decision from 1973 in which the Supreme Court at the time struck down laws against abortion in all 50 states.

In September, abortion advocates and providers in the Lone Star State appealed to the high court to hear their arguments against the Texas law, SB 8, before there was a final judgment in a lower federal court “because of the urgency of the harm” the law allegedly causes.

Last Monday, the high court agreed to hear that quickened appeal.

The Justice Department, which has filed suit against Texas over the law, asked justices to vacate a lower appeals court ruling that allowed the law to stay in effect while it is being litigated. The department’s brief also sought to have its legal challenge to be added during this term for briefings and arguments.

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In response, Texas officials argued that the law ought to remain in effect and said that the Justice Department does not have standing in the outcome that allows for their lawsuit.

In its previous one-page decision, the Fifth Circuit Court Of Appeals set aside a lower court ruling that placed a temporary halt on enforcement of the law.

Senate Bill 8, signed into law in May, bars abortions in the state after fetal heart tones are detected, generally around six weeks. It empowers private citizens to sue anyone involved in providing an abortion after the establishment of heart tones.

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