Across the country, Democrats have reacted with outrage to the “Texas Heartbeat Act,” a bill recently signed into law that bars abortion in the state as soon as a heartbeat can be detected, or as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. But while opponents of the legislation have put up a heavy fight in the courts thus far, they were just hit with another massive defeat.
According to The Epoch Times, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected on Friday an effort from a group of abortion providers seeking to block enforcement of the new law.
Not buying it
Under the Texas law, anyone who performs or facilitates an abortion after around six weeks gestation is liable to be sued for at least $10,000 in damages, Fox News explains. Suits can only be brought by private citizens, however, rather than government officials.
A group of abortion providers fighting the law sought to preclude Texas state judges, who they named as defendants, from hearing civil cases arising from the legislation.
But the appeals court wasn’t buying it, calling the group’s claims “specious,” as The Epoch Times reported.
The three-judge panel noted that “it is well established that judges acting in their adjudicatory capacity are not proper Section 1983 defendants in a challenge to the constitutionality of state law.”
“When acting in their adjudicatory capacity, judges are disinterested neutrals who lack a personal interest in the outcome of the controversy,” they added, according to the Times.
“It is absurd”
The judges also said, “It is absurd to contend, as Plaintiffs do, that the way to challenge an unfavorable state law is to sue state court judges, who are bound to follow not only state law but the U.S. Constitution and federal law.”
What’s more, they pointed out that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and other state officials named in the suit have no “enforcement connection” under the new law.
Finally, the judges cited the Supreme Court’s recent decision not to issue a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the law while it is being litigated. Any injunction from them, the judges said, would “’threaten to grant unelected judges a general authority to conduct oversight of decisions of the elected branches of Government.’”
“In light of that nonnegotiable principle, we cannot allow proceedings to go forward while our court considers whether the federal judiciary has any power to entertain this novel lawsuit to begin with,” the judges concluded, according to the Times.
But the fight for life isn’t over yet. Fox News reported last week that the Biden administration’s Department of Justice had filed its own suit against the Texas law, which U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland called “clearly unconstitutional.”