In Which the Supreme Court Gets One Right, So Far

Whole Woman’s Health et al v Austin Reeve Jackson, Judge, et al On Application for Injunctive Relief is a case brought to the Supreme Court by plaintiffs seeking injunction against a newly effective Texas law that bars abortions when a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat and assigns to the citizens of Texas sole authority to enforce the law, through civil court action.

By a 5-4 vote, the Court declined to enter the matter at this stage of litigation, thereby permitting Texas’ law to remain in effect.

I have some thoughts on the matter.

Here’s the core of Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent from the Court’s decision to not interfere, at this time, with Texas’ heartbeat law:

I would grant preliminary relief to preserve the status quo ante—before the law went into effect—so that the courts may consider whether a state can avoid responsibility for its laws in such a manner.

It’s interesting that Roberts would so misconstrue the situation. Even at the State level, the citizens are sovereign, not the governments they hire/elect from time to time. Far from Texans’ government avoiding responsibility for its laws, it has put that responsibility in the present case, without filter, where responsibility originates: with the sovereign citizenry.

Here’s Justice Breyer, dissenting:

But a woman has a federal constitutional right to obtain an abortion during that first stage.

True enough, as far as it goes, but it, and Breyer, don’t go very far. The baby has a prior, unalienable right to its life.

Then Breyer raised a non sequitur, unusual for a Supreme Court Justice:

The very bringing into effect of Texas’s law may well threaten the applicants with imminent and serious harm. One of the clinic applicants has stated on its website that “[d]ue to Texas’ SB 8 law,” it is “unable to provide abortion procedures at this time.” Planned Parenthood South Texas [URL omitted] And the applicants, with supporting affidavits, claim that clinics will be unable to run the financial and other risks that come from waiting for a private person to sue them under the Texas law; they will simply close….

That’s purely speculative, however plausibly so, and so it’s beyond the scope of any American court’s reach. Aside from that, and more importantly, it may be unfortunate for Planned Parenthood South Texas, but that’s all it is. No business, no entity of any sort, has a Constitutional right to a particular business model. On the contrary, any business’ model must be designed to operate within the bounds of law.

Here’s Justice Sotomayor, dissenting:

The Act [SB8], which took effect statewide at midnight on September 1, makes it unlawful for physicians to perform abortions if they either detect cardiac activity in an embryo or fail to perform a test to detect such activity.

And yet the presence of cardiac activity—Sotomayor’s (cynical, I say) euphemism for a heartbeat—clearly shows that the baby is alive, and not just a cluster of cells (as many pro-abortionists assert babies to be). That brings us back to the part about the baby having a prior, unalienable right to its life.

The Court’s ruling can be read here.

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