The US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an emergency motion Tuesday seeking to immediately block Texas’ controversial abortion restriction pending further proceedings.
The DOJ filed suit against Texas earlier this month, challenging the constitutionality of Senate Bill 8 (SB 8). The law bans all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. It also authorizes private citizens to enforce the law against any person who assists and intends to assist people seeking to terminate pregnancy.
In Tuesday’s motion, the DOJ reiterated that SB 8 violates the Fourteenth Amendment. The Department argued that it is “well-settled that the Fourteenth Amendment prevents states from banning abortion before a fetus is viable,” meaning that SB 8 “is plainly unconstitutional under binding precedent.” Both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey protect the right to seek abortions.
SB 8 also violates the Supremacy Clause, according to the DOJ. The law “harms the United States’ interest in ensuring that States do not evade their obligations under the Constitution and then try to insulate their actions from judicial review.” Allowing “States to circumvent the Federal Constitution in this manner would offend the basic federal nature of the Union.”
The DOJ stated that their requested relief, either a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction, is “necessary to protect the constitutional rights of women in Texas and the sovereign interest of the United States in ensuring that its States respect the terms of the national compact,” as well as “to protect federal agencies, employees, and contractors whose lawful actions S.B. 8 purports to prohibit.”
It is unclear whether the district judge will rule on the motion, but it may make its way up to the Supreme Court.
Earlier this week, a Texas judge granted a temporary injunction preventing Texas Right to Life from enforcing SB 8 against Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas.