Late on Tuesday evening, the U.S. Department of Justice filed for a temporary restraining order to stop the state of Texas from enforcing its recently passed terrifyingly restrictive abortion law. This development comes less than a week after the DOJ filed a lawsuit against Texas in an attempt to block the same abortion ban from going into effect. The Texas legislation, SB 8, makes it illegal for a person to get an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and deputizes private citizens to help enforce the law by filing lawsuits against people and organizations who they suspect are helping pregnant people access abortions after the six-week mark.
The 47-page emergency court order was filed in an Austin federal court on Tuesday evening. In it, the Justice Department argues that the preliminary injunction “is necessary to protect the constitutional rights of women in Texas and the sovereign interest of the United States in ensuring that its States respect the terms of the national compact.” Additionally, “it is also necessary to protect federal agencies, employees, and contractors whose lawful actions S.B. 8 purports to prohibit.”
“The United States has the authority and responsibility to ensure that Texas cannot insulate itself from judicial review for its constitutional violations and to protect the important federal interests that S.B. 8 impairs,” the Tuesday filing says.
In the request, the DOJ also argues that the Texas law is already negatively impacting pregnant people in Texas, as well as adding to the burdens of abortion providers in nearby states—which adversely impacts abortion access in those states as well. Since SB 8 took effect at the beginning of September, the Justice Department says that abortion clinics in Tulsa and Oklahoma City have “seen an overall staggering 646% increase of Texan patients” in comparison to the first six months of 2021.
Although the DOJ is apparently trying every method possible of blocking the Texas abortion law from being enforced, it’s unclear whether their efforts will do much other than prolonging the inevitable. After all, the Supreme Court had already decided not to intervene when the legislation went into effect earlier this month, and the opinion of the current court’s conservative majority on Roe v. Wade is certainly not a secret.