The Supreme Court again rejected Thursday to remand the Texas abortion case to the original trial judge for additional hearings — a move that would have expedited the challengers’ opportunity to seek relief.
The organizations contesting the Texas legislation, which is the most restrictive in the nation, said that the case should have been remanded to the first court in Texas immediately after the Supreme Court’s December verdict.
Rather than that, the matter was remanded to the Fifth United States Circuit Court of Appeals, which assured last week that legal processes would drag on even longer by posing a question to Texas courts regarding who the challengers may sue.
While the Supreme Court’s second refusal was not entirely anticipated, it was another procedural defeat for opponents of the bill.
Justice Stephen Breyer filed a dissent with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. “When the mandate was issued, I expected the Court of Appeals would immediately return the matter to the District Court for consideration of the merits and entry of relief commensurate with our decision,” Breyer wrote.
“Rather than that, the Court of Appeals disregarded our ruling. It retained the case and sent licensing-official defendants’ issues to the Texas Supreme Court. As a consequence, Texas’s unlawful six-week abortion ban remains in effect—as it has done for more than four months.”
Last month, the Supreme Court rejected Texas’ assertion that the statute, known as S.B. 8, was exempt from review in federal court. Nonetheless, the court restricted legislation opponents to suing state medical licensing agencies.
It meant that abortion providers in Texas could only seek to have their medical licenses revoked.
Additionally, the verdict meant that opponents could not prevent the law’s most special provision, permitting anybody to sue an abortion practitioner for a minimum of $10,000.
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