On September 9th, 2021, the Department of Justice sued the state of Texas over S.B.8, the law that went into effect on September 1st, 2021. The law bans women from getting abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Most women don’t know that they are pregnant at that stage during pregnancy.
The lawsuit states that S.B.8 opposes women’s constitutional rights to end pregnancy before viability. In fact, it openly defies the Constitution. Because the federal government has an interest of protecting constitutional rights, experts believe that the ruling will deem that the law is unconstitutional. The government has asked the court to declare the abortion law, “…invalid, null, and void,” and bar Texas from enforcing it in any way.
What Is The Texas Law?
S.B.8 is a new Texas law that prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity. This generally occurs about six weeks into the pregnancy. Many women don’t know that they are pregnant until after the six-week mark, though. Other states have tried to impose similar restrictions, but courts blocked those attempted enforcements. The Texas law is different because it encourages private citizens to become bounty hunters, essentially. It authorizes people to receive $10,000 per claim from individuals who facilitate a woman’s constitutional right to abortion before viability.
Does Constitutional Law Supersede State Law?
Under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, it’s very clear that women have the right to end a pregnancy before viability. The medical community determines viability and experts agree that six weeks of gestation is no where near that mark. Generally speaking, viability is thought of at around 23 weeks. That means S.B.8 violates the right as it exists. It’s possible for states to pass restrictions related to health and safety to persuade women not to have abortions. They cannot, however, ban abortion before the viability mark. For this reason, the Department of Justice is applying the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, which states that federal constitutional rights trump state law. Constitutional rights reign supreme over any state law.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted that the Department of Justice should focus on fixing the the border crisis and Afghanistan first. The economy and countless other issues are more important than interfering with a state’s sovereign rights. Texas’ Republican governor said that Texas would prevail in court.
Ultimately, the new Texas law and pressing lawsuit against it may affect the lives of all Americans. No matter what political party you belong to or what side you support, the scheme to nullify a constitutional right is quite scary. If the law prevails, it may serve as a model that other states can employ, in regards to other judicial precedents and constitutional rights. States that allow private individuals to interfere or prohibit another person’s constitutional rights would be detrimental to our society.
What Should You Keep An Eye On?
There are so many articles, blogs, and social media posts about this evolving situation. How do you know what to listen to and what to avoid? It seems that the federal government already asked to permanently invalidate the law. The federal government may go so far as to request emergency relief. First off, the case will go to a federal district court, which will decide if the law is unconstitutional. If the law does not get struck down, S.B.8 will move onto the court of appeals, and then the Supreme Court. It’s very possible, however that the law will be ruled unconstitutional before federal district court.