The US Supreme Court Monday vacated lower court rulings in a case related to Texas’ ban on most abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of Texas’ response to the pandemic, Governor Greg Abbott ordered a halt to all non-essential medical procedures last March in order to preserve resources such as protective equipment. Later, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement declaring that the order applied to all types of abortions. Planned Parenthood sued the Texas government over the issue. While a district court sided with Planned Parenthood, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the ruling.
Two days after the April ruling, Abbott issued a new order that lifted the ban on abortions but still did not permit medication-induced abortions.
The Supreme Court vacated the Fifth Circuit‘s decision and remanded the case to the circuit court with orders to dismiss it for mootness. The Supreme court thus prevented the petitioners and abortion providers within the Fifth Circuit’s jurisdiction from being potentially bound by a decision they could not appeal. This will likely also effectively reduce the authority of rulings of courts outside the circuit that relied on the decision.