Supreme Court announces timeline for hearing Texas abortion law cases

The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to consider two separate arguments against a new Texas law essentially banning most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Reports indicate an expedited timeline for arguments in the case has left at least one expert stunned, noting that the nation’s highest court has cleared space on the “rocket docket” to allow the challenges to be heard as quickly as possible.

SCOTUS announces expedited schedule

Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler raised serious issues regarding the rapidity with which the Supreme Court moved in response to the cases involving the controversial Texas law.

She began by summarizing why the law has generated even more controversy than prior anti-abortion laws, noting its unique enforcement mechanism by which the state and its officials play no role but instead authorize private citizens to bring civil suits against abortion providers and those who “aid and abet” them.

Opponents have thus found it difficult to find a defendant against whom a legal challenge could be directed, ultimately resulting in challenges that target the process rather than the underlying merits of the issue.

According to the profess, there seemed to be little urgency when the matter initially appeared before the high court last month, at which time a 5-4 majority ruled to deny an emergency request for an injunction against the law.

Of course, pro-abortion advocates were not pleased with that outcome and launched two new challenges, which have been fast-tracked to the Supreme Court. One lawsuit was filed by abortion providers in Texas and the other originated in the Department of Justice.

“Prohibits the exercise of a constitutional right”

In a decision announced on Friday, the court agreed to hear both cases.

Notably, neither challenge presents a direct impact on the merits of the Texas law. Instead, the abortion providers argue that the unique enforcement mechanism serves to “insulate from federal-court review a law that prohibits the exercise of a constitutional right” while the Justice Department posed the question of whether the federal government has the right and “sovereign interest” to challenge state laws.

Despite the expedited schedule, the Supreme Court nevertheless declined in an unsigned order to issue an injunction against the law until at least after the arguments had been heard.

Ziegler and other court watchers noted that the decision to consider the two challenges is in no way an indication of how the justices might ultimately rule.

It does mean, however, that Americans invested in the ongoing debate over the Texas law might not have to wait long before learning whether it will remain in place or be deemed unconstitutional.

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