The lawsuit alleges that Texas’s restrictive anti-abortion law violates both the constitutional rights of women and the supremacy clause of the US Constitution.
The Justice Department has kept its promise to file a lawsuit against Texas and a new state law banning most abortions.
In a statement announcing the challenge, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said Texas law was passed and enacted “in overt disregard for the Constitution.”
Now Garland and the Biden administration are calling on federal justice to invalidate the law and “enforce it and protect the rights that Texas has violated.”
“The law is clearly unconstitutional after longstanding Supreme Court precedent,” Garland said at a conference Thursday.
According to The Associated Press, the Justice Department argues that Texas’s new law illegally violates women’s constitutional rights. The agency also says that Texas’s anti-abortion law violates the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution, which says federal law should always replace federal law.
As other conservatively dominated states are following or planning to follow the example of Texas, the Biden government fears that such states could enact similar laws, whereby “[depriving] their citizens from their constitutional rights. “
“It is constitutional law that ‘a state may not prohibit a woman from taking the final decision on an abortion before she is viable,” the lawsuit said. “But Texas did just that.”
Former Texas Attorney General and current Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Image via Flickr / User: Gage Skidmore. (CCA-BY-2.0).
Texas law, as LegalReader.com previously reported, prohibits any abortion after heart activity is detected.
In general, doctors can detect cardiac activity in an embryo as early as the sixth week of pregnancy – often before a woman knows it is carrying.
While other states have imposed or attempted abortion bans, many of which have failed the courts, Texas law has a novel strategy.
Although Texas prohibits abortions after cardiac activity is detected, the state itself does not impose any criminal penalties if an abortion is performed or facilitated. Instead, Texas allows individuals to enforce the law so anyone, anywhere, can file a lawsuit against anyone suspected of having performed or assisted in an “illegal” abortion.
Individuals filing such lawsuits can seek statutory damages of at least $ 10,000.
“The law empowers all individuals, without demonstrating personal connections or injuries, to act as bounty hunters who are authorized to reclaim at least $ 10,000 per claim from anyone who facilitates a woman’s exercise of her constitutional rights,” Garland said Thursday. “The obvious and explicitly recognized intent of this legal provision is to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights by thwarting judicial review.”
Texas law does not provide any exceptions for women who are victims of rape or incest. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said such exemptions were not necessary both because women can have abortions six weeks ago and because the state plans to “remove all rapists from the streets.”
Abbott’s office has already criticized the lawsuit.
“The most precious freedom is life itself,” said Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze. “Texas passed law to save the life of every child with a heartbeat from the ravages of abortion.”
Meanwhile, the federal government and its allies, including the American Civil Liberties Union, believe the lawsuit could move forward quickly and reach the Supreme Court in the coming weeks.
Justice Dept. is suing Texas over the state’s new abortion law
READ: Department of Justice lawsuit against Texas for its abortion restrictions