Supreme Court deals a setback to abortion providers’ bid to quickly block Texas law

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Pro-choice demonstrators rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on November 01, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request from Texas abortion providers to immediately send their case challenging the state’s strict abortion law back to a lower court.

Doing so likely would have allowed the abortion providers and advocates to proceed more quickly with their case against the law, which bans most abortions in Texas after as early as six weeks of pregnancy. Instead, the ruling is likely to prolong the legal battle.

The high court in December said that a lawsuit against the ban could proceed, while keeping the law in effect.

Opponents of the ban wanted the case to return to a federal district court. On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit sent the case to the Republican-controlled Texas Supreme Court, and it is unclear how soon that court will take it up.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Thursday afternoon order denied the abortion providers’ request to compel the 5th Circuit to return the case to the district court.

The three liberal justices on the nine-member bench dissented to the order.

“Instead of stopping a Fifth Circuit panel from indulging Texas’ newest delay tactics, the Court allows the State yet again to extend the deprivation of the federal constitutional rights of its citizens through procedural manipulation,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.

“The Court may look the other way, but I cannot,” Sotomayor wrote.

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