WASHINGTON, D.C., October 22, 2021 – Today, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority again ruled that Texas’s abortion ban (SB 8) may stay in effect, though they have now committed to hearing a case brought by the Justice Department in the coming weeks.
Texas’s SB 8 is a near total ban on abortion, and the law outsources enforcement to private bounty hunters who are able to sue anyone who has assisted in an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. This is a time before most people even know that they are pregnant.
The Court’s decision comes after a federal district court in Texas enjoined SB 8, describing Texas as having implemented an “unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well-established constitutional right.”
By allowing the law to stay in effect, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority is lawlessly disregarding its own precedent. In a blistering dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor acknowledged the “devastating” harm of continuing to allow the law to restrict abortion access while the Court refuses to act. Justice Sotomayor noted that, by delaying action, “the Court enables continued and irreparable harm to women seeking abortion care and providers of such care in Texas — exactly as [SB 8’s] architects intended.” Justice Sotomayor also noted that the Court’s conservative majority’s procedural concerns over staying SB 8 “cannot outweigh the total and intentional denial of a constitutional right to women.”
By failing to act, the Supreme Court “has so thoroughly chilled the exercise of the right recognized in Roe as to nearly suspend it within [Texas’s] borders and strain access to [abortion] in other States,” according to Justice Sotomayor.
Alliance for Justice President Rakim Brooks issued the following statement:
“Once again, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority has issued a flagrantly lawless order that ignores nearly fifty years of the Court’s precedent. By refusing to stay SB 8, this order strips the people of Texas of their constitutional right to an abortion and endangers the health of millions. As Justice Sotomayor pointed out in her passionate and thoughtful dissent, there are individuals in Texas who became pregnant during or immediately after SB 8 took effect who may still be unaware that they are pregnant. The Court is deliberately denying those people access to an abortion — and again using its shadow docket to do so. It’s impossible to imagine the Court allowing a similar law that restricted gun rights to remain in effect. That should tell the American people all they need to know about this Court: The only constitutional rights that are safe are those that conservatives hold in higher regard.”