Federal judge in Texas set hearing date for Biden administration’s request to block the state’s new abortion law

Merrick Garland
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks about voting rights at the Justice Department in Washington, on Friday, June 11, 2021. Tom Brenner/The New York Times via AP
  • A Texas federal judge will hear the Justice Department’s bid to block the state’s new abortion law.
  • US District Judge Robert Pitman set a hearing date for October 1.
  • The DOJ filed an emergency motion late Tuesday, seeking to block the Texas law.
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A federal judge on Wednesday set a hearing date for next month to review the Biden administration’s request to block a Texas law that bans nearly all abortions in the state.

US District Judge Robert Pitman will consider the Department of Justice’s request for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction to the Texas law on October 1.

The DOJ filed the emergency motion late Tuesday, asking the judge to block Senate Bill 8, a Texas statute that prohibits abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, a time before many people know they are pregnant, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

The legal action came after the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote on September 2 kept the Texas law in place, 24 hours after it went into effect. The court’s narrow majority argued the decision was technical and the justices did not rule on the constitutionality of the law, which could still be legally challenged.

Pro-abortion groups and politicians, including President Joe Biden, were outraged by the decision. The DOJ last week sued the state of Texas over its new law which it says is “clearly unconstitutional under longstanding Supreme Court precedent,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

The Texas law has withstood legal action thus far because of the unique way it has been designed. The law invites private citizens, rather than state officials, to enforce the ban. That means a private citizen can sue an abortion provider, doctor or an Uber driver taking a patient to an abortion clinic. Successful lawsuits will be rewarded up to $US10,000 ($AU13,622), in addition to legal fees.