The Texas Abortion Law
The Republican-controlled Texas legislature recently enacted, and the Republican governor of Texas signed, a frightening abortion law that took effect at midnight on September 1, 2021. Opponents immediately asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that the law is unconstitutional. In a shocking development, the Supreme Court denied the request in a 5 to 4 Court order, with Chief Justice Roberts joining with the three liberal justices.
The Sotomayor Dissent
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a powerful dissenting opinion, with which liberal Justices Breyer and Kagan joined. The first paragraph and the last two paragraphs of the Sotomayor dissent read as follows:
The Court order is stunning. Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of Justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand. Last night, the Court silently acquiesced in a state enactment of a law that flouts nearly 50 years of federal precedents. Today, the Court belatedly explains that it declined to grant relief because of procedural complexities of the State's own invention. Ante, at 1. Because the Court's failure to act rewards tactics designed to avoid judicial review and inflict significant harm on the applicants and on women seeking abortions in Texas, I dissent....
The Court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligations to protect not only the rights of women, but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law.
Dissenters normally say "I respectfully dissent." In this instance, Sotomayor said "I dissent." I recommend that you read the full Sotomayor dissent and the related filings (12 pages).
The Garland Statement
On September 6, the U.S. Department of Justice released a statement from U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland about the Texas abortion law. Here is the full statement:
While the Justice Department urgently explores all options to challenge [the Texas abortion law] in order to protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons, including access to an abortion, we will continue to protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services pursuant to our criminal and civil enforcement of the FACE Act, 18 U.S.C. § 248.
The FACE Act prohibits the use or threat of force and physical obstruction that injures, intimidates, or interferes with a person seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services. It also prohibits intentional property damage of a facility providing reproductive health services. The department has consistently obtained criminal and civil remedies for violations of the FACE Act since it was signed into law in 1994, and it will continue to do so now.
The department will provide support from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack. We have reached out to U.S. Attorneys' Offices and FBI field offices in Texas and across the country to discuss our enforcement authorities.
We will not tolerate violence against those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services, physical obstruction or property damage in violation of the FACE Act.
My blog posts usually are devoted to insurance matters. However, the Texas abortion law is so outrageous that I decided to comment on it.