Merrick Garland and the Justice Department Strike Back at Texas’s New Abortion Law

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Texas’s recently-passed six-week abortion ban has been called draconian, oppressive, and “structural sex and gender-based discrimination at its worst.” On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland condemned it as unconstitutional.

In a major challenge to the new law, Garland announced that the Department of Justice is suing the state of Texas over restrictions that, according to the Justice Department lawsuit, are “in open defiance of the Constitution.”

“The act is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing Supreme Court precedent,” Garland said at a press conference in Washington. “Those precedents hold, in the words of Planned Parenthood v. Casey that ‘regardless of whether exceptions are made for particular circumstances, a state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.’” Garland added that the legal challenge to the Texas law, which empowers private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps a person get an abortion for $10,000, is of bipartisan concern: “This kind of scheme, to nullify the Constitution of the United States, is one that all Americans, whatever their politics or party, should fear.”

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There was a certain richness to seeing Garland—Obama’s one-time Supreme Court nominee—rebuke the Texas law that the high court’s Trump-cemented conservative majority upheld. He may have been blocked from the bench by Mitch McConnell’s machinations, but Garland is now standing for Roe v. Wade from within the Justice Department. He vowed to exhaust “all options” to protect abortion rights in Texas, including the deployment of federal law enforcement support to clinics under attack, and warned other states weighing abortion restrictions of their own. “The Department of Justice has a duty to defend the Constitution of the United States, and to uphold the rule of law,” Garland said. “Today we fulfill that duty.”

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