AUSTIN, Texas — The wild pendulum swings of the litigation regarding Texas’ abortion law, HB 2, continued Tuesday as the United States Supreme Court issued a short, five-sentence order ruling that parts of the law could not be enforced while the legal proceedings were still in process. The order was issued as a result of a 6-3 vote, with Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, three of the Court’s most conservative members, in opposition.
This case has already been up and down the appellate ladder several times. The specific issue that was before the Supreme Court related to an order issued by Judge Lee Yeakel of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, that held that two parts of HB 2 were unconstitutional: the admitting-privileges requirement as applied to abortion clinics in McAllen and El Paso, and the ambulatory surgical center requirement. Attorney General Greg Abbott had appealed that ruling, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans issued a stay of Judge Yeakel’s decision, allowing the law to be enforced while the litigation proceeded.
Plaintiffs then appealed to the Supreme Court, resulting in this order, vacating both of the stays issued by the Fifth Circuit. According to the Houston Chronicle, more than a dozen abortion clinics may be able to reopen as a result of this order, at least unless and until a final resolution to the legal challenges is reached.
Once again, the Attorney General’s Office has vowed to continue the appeals, issuing a statement from Deputy Communications Director Lauren Bean that they “will continue to defend the law, just as we defend all state laws when they are challenged in court.”
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