Justice Department sues Texas, seeking to block new abortion law

The Justice Department on Thursday filed suit against the state of Texas over its controversial law that bans abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, taking action days after Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged to explore “all options” to challenge the measure and protect access to the procedure.

The suit from the Justice Department, filed in the U.S. District Court in Austin, sets up a showdown between the federal government and the Republican-led state as the Supreme Court prepares to hear a blockbuster dispute over a Mississippi abortion ban in the coming months, which could pave the way for further limits on the procedure by states.

Justice Department attorneys argued in their 30-page complaint that the statute was enacted in “open defiance” of the Constitution and said the goal of the measure was to “make it too risky for an abortion clinic to operate in the state, thereby preventing women throughout Texas from exercising their constitutional rights, while simultaneously thwarting judicial review.”

The Justice Department is asking the court to declare the law, known as SB 8, invalid and block the state’s “officers, employees and agents, including private parties who would bring suit under the law,” from enforcing it.

“The act is clearly unconstitutional under longstanding Supreme Court precedent,” Garland said during a press conference announcing the lawsuit.

The attorney general warned that if the law prevails, it may become a model for other states to follow with regards to other constitutional rights or judicial precedents.

“This kind of scheme, to nullify the Constitution of the United States, is one that all Americans, whatever their politics or party, should fear,” Garland said.

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