5th Circuit hands win to Texas Republicans with order reinstating controversial abortion law

Texas S.B. 8, the new law in the Lone Star State that bars most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, has faced multiple legal challenges from the left and, early last week, was blocked by a temporary injunction from a sympathetic district judge.

That injunction didn’t last long, though, as a panel of judges from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an administrative stay against that ruling that allows that Texas law to go back into effect, at least for the time being, the Washington Examiner reports.

The stay was granted at the request of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) in response to an injunction handed down in response to a challenge of the law from President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ).

Judge issues injunction

It was on Wednesday that Obama-appointed U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman first issued a 113-page ruling placing a temporary injunction on S.B. 8. In his decision, the judge asserted that under the law, women were “unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution.”

“A person’s right under the Constitution to choose to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability is well established,” the judge argued.

“Fully aware that depriving its citizens of this right by direct state action would be flagrantly unconstitutional, the State contrived an unprecedented and transparent statutory scheme to do just that,” he added, referring to the law’s unique structure that allows citizens, rather than the state or its officials, to sue those involved in facilitating abortions for noncompliance.

Injunction placed on hold

In response to Pitman’s injunction, Texas Attorney General Paxton immediately filed an appeal with the 5th Circuit, arguing that the judge had overstepped his bounds and that the federal government had no standing to sue.

The appeals panel seemed to agree, at least enough to grant a temporary administrative stay on the injunction.

The 5th Circuit’s two-paragraph ruling didn’t offer any additional details or reasoning.

“Great news”

The temporary stay is notable in that it will last only as long as it takes the panel to consider Paxton’s motion for a permanent stay on the preliminary injunction issued by Pitman. The 5th Circuit reportedly gave the Biden DOJ until Tuesday to respond to Paxton’s request.

Paxton, for his part, celebrated the 5th Circuit panel’s ruling with a tweet Friday night that heralded the “great news” and reiterated his vow to “fight federal overreach.”

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