Washington – The Justice Department on Tuesday evening filed an emergency motion to block Texas from enforcing its recently passed law banning nearly all abortions in the state.
“This effort to protect an apparently unconstitutional law from review cannot stand. The United States seeks a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction for the enforcement of SB8. This relief seeks to protect the constitutional rights and sovereign interests of women in Texas. necessary to protect the United States of America to ensure that its states respect the terms of the national agreement,” according to the resolution.
“The United States has the right and responsibility to ensure that Texas does not recuse itself from judicial review for its constitutional violations and to protect the vital federal interests that affect SB8. Accordingly, This Court should order enforcement of SB8,” the motion continued. .
Texas law, known as SB8, prohibits abortions when medical professionals can detect cardiac activity—usually around six weeks, before some women know they are pregnant. Courts have barred other states from imposing similar sanctions, but Texas law differs significantly in that it enforces private citizens through civil lawsuits rather than criminal prosecutors.
FILE – The US Department of Justice stamps a stage in Washington, DC (Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The emergency filing comes just a week after the Justice Department announced that it would sue the state of Texas over the new law.
In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Texas on September 9, a federal judge was asked to declare that the law was invalid, “to enforce its enforcement, and to protect the rights violated by Texas.”
“This act is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing Supreme Court precedent,” Attorney General Merrick Garland told a news conference announcing the suit.
The Justice Department argues that the law unlawfully violates women’s constitutional rights and violates the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which states that federal law takes the place of state law. Federal officials are also concerned that other states may enact similar laws that would “deprive their citizens of their constitutional rights,” he said.
“It is constitutional law that ‘a state cannot prevent any woman from making a final decision to terminate her pregnancy prior to viability,'” the lawsuit reads. “But that’s what Texas has done.”