Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Challenges to Texas Heartbeat Law

Supreme Court to Finally Hear Cases on Abortion

( – The new term for the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) began last month, and it’s wasted no time getting to the meatier issues on its docket. On Monday, November 1, the high court heard not one but two challenges involving the controversial pro-life law passed in Texas to determine if the cases could proceed.

Recapping, the state’s Heartbeat Act, SB8, is the strictest in the nation, banning abortions after the six-week mark, when doctors can detect a fetal heartbeat. The two challenges to the law came from a collective of abortion providers and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of the United States, which Merrick Garland brought.

The justices tread carefully in both instances, asking questions on the challenges. The main focus of the two fell on the DOJ’s suit. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh expressed concern about overreach, with Roberts asking US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, “you’re seeking an injunction against the world?” Kavanaugh called the lawsuit “unusual,” questioning whether the DOJ had the power to sue a state over its own law.

Regarding the abortion providers’ challenge, SCOTUS Justices seemed to question the validity of the Texas Heartbeat Act, as it seems structured to circumvent pre-enforcement review, where people can challenge actions in court before facing consequences.

Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis, shared her analysis of the hearings, including her observation the court clearly recognized the politicization of the issue.

No decision has come down on either challenge as of yet. The hearing was a means of deciding whether the cases have merit, who can bring a lawsuit against the state, and whether to reinstate an earlier injunction preventing enforcement of SB8. However, as Severino pointed out, the decisions of these two challenges and the Dobbs v Jackson case could have far-reaching implications for the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade.

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