Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Texas abortion ban cases
MarkThomas / Pixabay
Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Texas abortion ban cases

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson and United States v. Texas, two cases concerning a Texas law that effectively bans all abortions after six weeks. The Court agreed to fast-track the two cases after declining to block enforcement of the law, despite being asked to do so by the Department of Justice on behalf of President Biden.

Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson challenges S.B. 8, which provides for the private enforcement of Texas’s abortion ban, allowing “any person” to bring a civil suit against anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion. During oral arguments, the plaintiffs argued that “Texas delegated enforcement to literally any person anywhere except its own state officials. The only conceivable reason for doing so was to evade federal court review.” The defendants countered that “what [the plaintiffs] really want [is] an injunction against S.B. 8, the law, itself. They can’t receive that because federal courts don’t issue injunctions against laws but against . . . officials enforcing laws.” The plaintiffs criticized S.B. 8 as a law which “weaponized the state court system into a tool that can be used to abrogate constitutional rights.”

United States v. Texas is President Biden’s challenge to S.B. 8, under which the Biden Administration requests reinstatement of a United States District Court for the Western District of Texas judge’s ruling stating that S.B. 8 is unconstitutional. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit suspended the lower court’s ruling, reinstating Texas’s abortion ban. In oral arguments, the plaintiff argued Texas “enacted a law that clearly violates [the Supreme] Court’s precedents” and serves as “a brazen attack on the coordinate branches of the federal government.” The plaintiff also cautioned that refusing to grant the injunction against the enforcement of this law would not only nullify Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey but would allow other states to do the same. The defendant argued that “no Texas official is a proper defendant in a pre-enforcement challenge to S.B. 8″ due to the make-up of the law and argued that the United States is not a proper plaintiff in the matter. According to the defense, [the United States] cannot claim a sovereign interest in suing to enforce individual rights under Casey, and the remedy it seeks would be completely foreign to traditional equity.”