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Appeals court returns Texas abortion ban case to state Supreme Court

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Appeals court returns Texas abortion ban case to state Supreme Court

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“Unresolved questions of state law must be certified by the Supreme Court of Texas,” President Ronald Reagan-appointed Justice Edith Jones wrote in an opinion joined by Justice Stuart Kyle Duncan, who was appointed by President Donald Trump.

Jones emphasized in her ruling that the case is not about abortion or the merits of Texas’ six-week ban, but strictly a matter of legal process. She rejected arguments by attorneys for the abortion providers that the US Supreme Court had essentially barred such a detour for litigation. In December, judges declined to block the law, but allowed some challenges brought by clinics to proceed.

“In the absence of a limit imposed by the Supreme Court’s reference, this court may use the ordinary appellate tools available to us to proceed with the matter, in accordance with the direction of the Court,” Jones wrote.

However, in a dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Higginson argued that sending the case to the Texas Supreme Court compounds the harm caused by the abortion ban and goes against the decision of the United States Supreme Court last month.

“By certifying this matter and, worse, simultaneously bringing a motion to inform us further of the matter, we are only causing further delay, in fact delay with no definite end,” wrote Higginson, an appointee. President Barack Obama. , guesswork redundancy, with no time limit, deepens my concern that justice delayed is justice denied, here precluding Supreme Court-ordered remedies.”

Higginson compared the Texas law to measures that many Southern states used to undermine federal civil rights guarantees in the 1950s. been overturned by a state legislature,” he wrote.

Higginson’s two conservative colleagues countered that because the United States Supreme Court’s decision on the Texas law was split on several key issues regarding the Texas abortion ban, the state Supreme Court should be allowed to intervene and offer advice.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last month disappointed abortion rights advocates because it provided no immediate relief against Texas law, which allows individuals to sue abortion providers. abortion and collect what critics described as “bounties” of $10,000 or more.

However, judges did not completely dismiss the challenge in federal court and ruled it could proceed if it focused on the role Texas medical licensing officials could play in law enforcement.

Abortion providers who sued the law returned to the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month with a motion to force the 5th Circuit to immediately return the case to district court for follow-up. This request remains pending without a decision.

Attorney Marc Hearron of the Center for Reproductive Rights gave POLITICO a grim assessment of the way forward for abortion rights advocates in a conversation following the early January arguments in the appeals court.

“The Supreme Court gave the green light to this self-defense scheme and said that if a state wants to pass a law that violates a constitutional right and delegate enforcement to the general public, there is nothing federal courts can do to stop it. . That’s the crux of the matter,” Hearron said, after taking part in the 5th Circuit argument session in New Orleans.

“There’s still a part of our case against these licensing officials, and it’s an important part of the case, but people need to understand that even what’s left is being delayed and put on hold while patients in Texas are being denied their constitutional rights,” he said. .

Appeals court returns Texas abortion ban case to state Supreme Court

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