Justice Department asks federal court to halt Texas abortion ban 'to protect the constitutional right of women'

Pro-choice demonstrators in Texas
(Image credit: Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court allowed a new Texas law banning most abortions in the state to go into effect, with a 5-4 majority saying the unique enforcement mechanism Texas Republicans came up with tied their hands for now. That legal challenge to Senate Bill 8 came from abortion rights advocates. The Justice Department stepped in late Tuesday, asking a federal judge in Austin to temporarily prevent Texas from carrying out the law, arguing its goal is "to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights."

The requested temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction "is necessary to protect the constitutional rights of women in Texas and the sovereign interest of the United States," the Justice Department said in its filing. SB 8 deputizes residents to enforce the law through civil lawsuits on anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion after six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant. University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck says the Justice Department does a good job explaining why it has standing to file the lawsuit and why the law is already actively violating women's right to an abortion.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.