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Justice Department to Ask Supreme Court to Strike Down Texas Abortion Law

A police officer walks in front of the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., May 13, 2021. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

The Justice Department will petition the Supreme Court to strike down Texas’s law prohibiting abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, a spokesperson announced Friday.

It was not immediately clear when the DOJ will file a challenge to the law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit allowed the law to remain in effect in a decision on Thursday evening, following a suit by the DOJ.

“The Justice Department intends to ask the Supreme Court to vacate the Fifth Circuit’s stay of the preliminary injunction against Texas Senate Bill 8,” Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said on Friday.

The law bans abortions from the time a fetal heartbeat can be detected, or as early as six weeks into pregnancy. However, the law has drawn criticism for its unusual enforcement mechanism, by which state officials are barred from enforcing the law but residents may sue anyone who helps a woman procure an abortion for at least $10,000 in damages.

The DOJ sued the state of Texas last week in an attempt to strike down the law.

“By both defying the Constitution and frustrating judicial review, Texas has not merely protracted its assault on the rights of its citizens; it has repudiated its obligations under our national compact in a manner that directly implicates sovereign interests of the United States,” the DOJ claimed in a Monday court filing. “If Texas’s scheme is permissible, no constitutional right is safe from state-sanctioned sabotage of this kind.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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