U.S. Appeals Court Blocks Texas Abortion Ban In SCOTUS Rebuke

U.S. Appeals Court Blocks Texas Abortion Ban In SCOTUS Rebuke

Slate did a thorough legal analysis of the ruling, pointing out it was a rebuke to the half-assed SCOTUS decision that had scant legal basis:

On Wednesday night, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman blocked S.B. 8, Texas’ six-week abortion ban, which sought to evade judicial review by empowering bounty hunters to sue abortion providers and anyone who “abets” them. Pitman’s 113-page opinion is a rebuke to the Supreme Court’s one-paragraph, back-of-the envelope order refusing to halt the law on Sept. 1, after it had already gone into effect. Pitman, who heard lengthy oral arguments in this case last Friday, painstakingly explains why federal courts must prohibit the Texas judiciary from entertaining suits by anti-abortion vigilantes. In so doing, he answers the many “complex and novel” questions that SCOTUS found too befuddling to address last month when it declined to enjoin the law. Pitman also illuminates the rolling crisis for Texans who remain in dire need of abortion care, depicting the harrowing consequences of the ban over the last five weeks. Higher courts may well reverse Pitman’s decision, but they will have a difficult time pointing to a flaw in his meticulous and fact-based opinion.

USAToday looked at the immediate legal consequences:

Wednesday’s preliminary injunction prevents judges or court clerks in the state from accepting lawsuits sanctioned by the ban and requires the state to publish a copy of the injunction on its public-facing court websites “with a visible, easy-to-understand instruction to the public that S.B. 8 lawsuits will not be accepted by Texas courts.”

Pitman wrote in the ruling that it is clear “people seeking abortions face irreparable harm when they are unable to access abortions” and that temporarily blocking Texas’ law from going into effect would allow abortions to proceed “at least for some subset of affected individuals.”

Major abortion providers in the state had stopped offering procedures that could be in violation, citing the steep costs associated with successful litigation under the law as a deterrent.

And the Washington Post examined the unusual circumstances that led to the federal government filing the suit:

Pitman, a nominee of President Barack Obama, acknowledged the concerns of Texas officials about allowing the federal government to file such suits against a state. But, the judge said, this case is “exceptional” because of the design of the state law and its effect on the constitutional rights of women in Texas.

The judge said his injunction should discourage other states from enacting similar legislation that curtails constitutional rights while evading judicial review.

“If legislators know they cannot accomplish political agendas that curtail or eliminate constitutional rights and intentionally remove the legal remedy to challenge it, then other states are less likely to engage in copycat legislation,” he wrote.

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