Justice Department will ask Supreme Court to halt Texas abortion law

Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland speaks at the Justice Department.
Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland announces a lawsuit to block the enforcement of Texas’ abortion ban.
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

The Biden administration said Friday it will turn next to the U.S. Supreme Court in its attempt to halt a Texas law that has banned most abortions since September.

The move by the Justice Department comes after an appeals court on Thursday night left in place the law known as Senate Bill 8, which bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks. That is before some people know they are pregnant.

Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley says the federal government will ask the Supreme Court to reverse that decision.


The Texas law is the nation’s biggest curb on abortion in nearly 50 years. Last month, the Supreme Court allowed the law to take effect but did so without ruling on whether it is constitutional.

On Wednesday, 18 state attorneys general from mostly GOP-controlled states threw new support behind the Texas law, urging the court to let the restrictions stand while accusing the federal government of overstepping in bringing the challenge in the first place.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland has called the law “clearly unconstitutional” and warned that it could become a model elsewhere in the country unless it’s struck down.

A federal appeals court is once again allowing Texas to continue banning most abortions.

Oct. 14, 2021

“The Attorney General has no authority to act as a roving reviser of state law, challenging as unconstitutional any rule with which he disagrees,” Indiana Atty. Gen. Theodore Rokita told the appeals court in a brief filed Wednesday.

Last month, more than 20 other states, mostly run by Democrats, had urged the lower court to throw out the law.