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Supreme Court Announces Justices Will Hear Challenges to Texas Abortion Law

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear challenges to a controversial Texas abortion law, the high court announced on Friday, making it the third abortion-related case justices will hear in their current term.

“The high court will now officially hear three major abortion cases this term: Two on Texas and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy,” Axios reported.

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.

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NBC News reports:

The arguments were filed in response to separate petitions challenging the restrictive Texas law, which bans most abortions after as early as the sixth week of gestation, a time when many women are not yet aware they are pregnant.

Critics say the law violates the Constitution and was designed to evade judicial scrutiny by delegating enforcement to private citizens, who can file civil lawsuits against anyone who “aids or abets” in an abortion.

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.

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

“In response, Texas officials said that the Supreme Court should deny that request, noting that the 5th Circuit of Appeals is due to hear arguments in the case next month,” NBC News reported.

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The Justice Department, which has filed suit against Texas over the law, asked justices on Monday 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.

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.

“The federal government cannot get an abortion, and the Constitution does not assign it any special role to protect any putative right to abortion,” Texas officials argued.

NBC News added:

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The court ordered that responses to both of those petitions were due by Thursday at noon. In each, respondents argued that if the court takes up the case, it should re-examine the precedents set by rulings from 1973′s Roe v. Wade and 1992′s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, two cases that protect abortion rights before fetal viability.

Should the Supreme Court agrees to the fast-tracked appeal by the abortion-rights groups, then “the Court should also reconsider Roe and Casey,” Texas officials argued. The brief also argued that “the Court erred in recognizing the right to abortion in Roe and in continuing to preserve it in Casey.”

“If it reaches the merits, the Court should overturn Roe and Casey and hold that SB 8 does not therefore violate the Fourteenth Amendment” of the Constitution, wrote Texas officials.

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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.

“Great news tonight, The Fifth Circuit has granted an administrative stay on #SB8. I will fight federal overreach at every turn,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Twitter.

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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