the fate of abortion rights
The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that abortion providers can move forward with a challenge to Texas' extreme abortion law, S.B. 8, though the justices allowed the ban to remain in effect for now, The Wall Street Journal reports.
In an 8-1 opinion, the court concluded that clinics who had sued the state over S.B. 8 "could proceed with at least part of their case," Buzzfeed News writes. It did not, however, "reach the core question of whether the Texas law is or is not constitutional." The justices also rejected a Department of Justice-led effort to challenge the ban, and advised lower courts to consider the matter.
The decision comes not long after the court heard arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a case regarding a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. That decision "will affect any future legal fight over S.B. 8," adds Buzzfeed News.
Texas had hoped it could "insulate" its abortion law from "federal court review by assigning enforcement power to private litigants," writes the Journal (the ban deputizes citizens to uphold the ban by financially incentivising them to sue anyone who aids or abets an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy). The justices said certain state officials, like the attorney general, cannot be sued, but that abortion providers could sue the head of the state medical board and other licensing authorities in federal court, per the Journal.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote for himself as well as liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer, said the district judge should act quickly, notes The Washington Post.
Sotomayor herself was critical of the decision not to block the law in the first place. "The Court should have put an end to this madness months ago, before S.B.8 first went into effect," she wrote. "It failed to do so then, and it fails again today."