The Supreme Court will hear arguments today in two lawsuits challenging the Texas abortion law, one filed by abortion providers and the other by the Department of Justice.
Both lawsuits challenge the Texas law, which bans abortions after six weeks, before most women know they are pregnant. The law also allows private citizens to file suit against anyone suspected of helping another individual procure the procedure, although not the individual obtaining the procedure, after six weeks.
While a decision in the lawsuits will not overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision which guaranteed a woman’s right to choose, it will determine whether or not states have the right to “nullify a constitutional right … by delegating enforcement not to state officials but to private citizens,” NPR reports. A decision in favor of Texas will effectively open the door for other states to enforce restrictions on abortion.
Earlier this year, abortion providers and other proponents asked the Supreme Court to halt the Texas bill from taking effect while its fate was decided in the court system. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, voting 5-4 along largely partisan lines, with Chief Justice Roberts siding with the three liberal judges.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision, a federal judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction against the law, halting it from taking effect. However, his decision was overruled by a decision in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals the following day, which allowed the law to remain in effect.
The Texas law is not the only abortion case the Supreme Court will hear this term. In December, the justices will hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizations, which challenges a Mississippi law banning the procedure after 15 weeks. That law has already been struck down in the lower federal courts for violating the precedent set by Roe v. Wade, which affords women the right to choose before fetal viability outside of the womb (which occurs at around 23 weeks).
A ruling in favor of the Mississippi law could effectively overturn Roe v. Wade.