September 3, 2021

Supreme Court Chooses Not to Intervene in Texas Heartbeat Law Case

Late Wednesday evening, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to deny a petition by abortion businesses to have Texas's newly enforceable heartbeat law temporarily blocked while lower courts deliberate its constitutionality.

“Hopefully, this law will begin saving the lives of tens of thousands of Texas babies, and we look forward to the day that babies’ lives will be spared across America,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life (NRLC).

Texas's new "Heartbeat Act" bans the abortion of babies once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks gestation. It is unique from other abortion bans in that it is enforced by giving private citizens the power to file lawsuits against those who commit illegal abortions.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett all ruled to deny the petitions of abortion businesses. Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor, all dissented.

The majority ruled that the abortion businesses did not make a sufficient argument to qualify for relief from the law's enforcement right now.

“The applicants now before us have raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issue. But their application also presents complex and novel antecedent procedural questions on which they have not carried their burden,” the majority stated.

The majority emphasized that its decision was not a ruling on the Heartbeat Act's constitutionality, and it could very well rule on this case after it passes through the lower courts.

“In particular, this order is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts,” the majority ruled.