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Supreme Court Rulings Are Just ‘Opinions,’ Texas Argues in Defense of Abortion Ban

·2 min read
Women's March ATX rally - Credit: AP
Women's March ATX rally - Credit: AP

Lawyers for the state of Texas defended the state’s six-week abortion ban in federal appeals court by arguing that states have the right to interpret the Constitution however they please, regardless of what the Supreme Court says.

“The Supreme Court’s interpretations of the Constitution are not the Constitution itself — they are, after all, called opinions,” lawyers for the state wrote in a filing Thursday, according to NBC News. Texas is appearing in court because the Justice Department is seeking to end the state’s new abortion law, the strictest in the nation, which bans the procedure after six weeks gestation, before many even know they are pregnant. The ban was temporarily suspended earlier this month by a lower court, but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on that ruling, so the abortion ban was reinstated. The appeals court will next rule whether to lift the stay.

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“The federal and state political branches have every prerogative to adopt interpretations of the Constitution that differ from the Supreme Court’s, and they have every prerogative to enact laws that deprive the judiciary of opportunities to consider pre-enforcement challenges to their statutes,” the lawyers wrote. “Abortion is not a constitutional right,” they added. “It is a court-invented right that may not even have majority support on the current Supreme Court.”

Essentially, the lawyers argued, precedence — one of the core principles of the court — doesn’t matter. The states must follow the Constitution, the lawyers said, but not the Supreme Court’s rulings regarding constitutional rights. (This is likely news to the Supreme Court.)

According to Texas, states are not violating the constitution when they are “undermining a ‘right’ that is nowhere to be found in the document, and that exists only as a concoction of judges who want to impose their ideology on the nation.”

Lawyers for the Justice Department argued in a motion filed October 11th that the Texas law is a threat to the country’s interests.

“By both defying the Constitution and frustrating judicial review, Texas has not merely protracted its assault on the rights of its citizens, it has repudiated its obligations under our national compact in a manner that directly implicates sovereign interests of the United States,” the lawyers wrote, adding, “If Texas’s scheme is permissible, no constitutional right is safe from state-sanctioned sabotage of this kind.”

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