The Supreme Court will hear the case against Texas’ abortion law. Here’s what to expect

Texas' new abortion restrictions remains in effect Friday after the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order where the justices opted not to block the state's SB8 abortion law, although they did agree to hear a case challenging it. The law bans most abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    The controversial new abortion restrictions in Texas remain in effect tonight but the U.S. Supreme Court will review it again within a matter of weeks.

    The High Court issued an order today, and the justices opted not to block the state's SB-8 law in the interim. That law bans most abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy.

    To explain what this means and what comes next at the court, we turn to Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog.

    Amy, welcome back to the "NewsHour." Thanks for being with us.

    There has been a lot of back-and-forth on this law. So, just clarify, if you can, in plain terms for us, what exactly did the justices decide to do today?

  • Amy Howe,

    So, the one thing they didn't do, as you mentioned, is they did not, at this point, grant the Biden administration's request to block enforcement of the law. They said, we're not going to act on that right now. We're going to wait at least until the oral argument on November 1.

    The second thing they did was, they granted requests by the Biden administration and a group of Texas abortion providers to leapfrog the proceedings in the Court of Appeals and to go ahead and act on their challenges now, without waiting for the Court of Appeals to act, which is a relatively rare maneuver.

    And then the third thing that they did, the case before the justices, when they hear oral arguments on November 1, the question is — appears to be a little bit narrower than the broad question of whether or not this law, SB-8, is constitutional.

    It's not crystal clear from the orders that the justices issued today, but it appears that they're going to focus on whether or not the federal government can bring this lawsuit in federal court to block enforcement of the law in the first place, and then, on this unusual enforcement scheme that the law has that deputizes private individuals to bring lawsuits in state court to — against people who provide or aid and abet abortions.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Amy, we should mention this isn't the only abortion case they were set to look in to. There was another Mississippi state law as well.

    That was, I think, to come before them December 1. But this November one review, this expedited review that they have granted the Texas law, that is extraordinarily fast. What does all of this say to you about how the court is viewing this issue?

  • Amy Howe:

    So, it says a couple of things, that, obviously, they view this as incredibly important.

    They rarely grant this procedure. It's known as certiorari before judgment. And then to fast-track it like this. The — this is one of the fastest tracks that they have had for a case in which they have heard oral argument since Bush vs. Gore back in 2000. So, it suggests that they want to resolve this question of whether or not these challenges by the federal government can go forward, but that they're not — perhaps not ready to weigh in on the constitutionality of SB-8 at this point.

    They have, as you said, this lawsuit challenging the Mississippi law that they are going to hear oral argument in December. That's a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans almost all abortions after the 15th a week of pregnancy.

    It's a case in which the state of Mississippi has asked the justices to overrule the Supreme Court's landmark decisions in Roe vs. Wade and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey establishing the fundamental right to an abortion, but without this sort of procedural wrinkle of this unusual enforcement scheme that's present in the Texas law.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And we will be following it all and following your work as you cover it as well.

    That is Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog joining us tonight.

    Thank you for your time.

  • Amy Howe:

    Thanks for having me.

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