WASHINGTON, D.C., December 10, 2021 – This morning the Supreme Court issued its rulings in two cases challenging Texas’s SB 8, which bans abortions after six weeks, a time before most people know they are pregnant. In the first challenge, the Court’s conservatives ruled that the federal government could not pursue its case to defend the constitutional right to abortion. In the second, the Court’s conservatives told clinics that they could only pursue a far narrower challenge of the law. SB 8’s enforcement mechanism of private civil lawsuits against people who assist pregnant people with abortions was designed to evade the Court’s authority through judicial review. By not blocking the law, everyday people can still pursue bounties on their neighbors’ medical decisions, keeping most abortions banned in Texas.
While the remaining challenge to SB 8 can proceed, this pair of rulings signals to other states how to craft their own bounty hunter laws in a way that will make these laws even more immune to legal challenges. As such, they open the door for SB 8 copycat laws that circumvent the protections still guaranteed by Roe v. Wade and for similar bounty laws to obstruct other constitutional protections. As Justice Sotomayor wrote in dissent, “the Court leaves all manner of constitutional rights more vulnerable than ever before, to the great detriment of our Constitution and our Republic.”
Alliance for Justice President Rakim H.D. Brooks issued the following statement:
“We should be absolutely clear about one thing: The Constitution does not require what today’s Jackson decision pronounces. This is a choice, made by the most conservative members of the Supreme Court, to deny pre-enforcement review because they prefer limited federal oversight. In other words, this was a case about judicial preferences, and it only underscores why judges matter so much in a democracy.
“Today’s pair of rulings has two consequences, each equally absurd, worrisome, and destructive. First, the Court is still forcing people to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. That is not an outcome worthy of our democracy. Second, as the Chief Justice and Justice Sotomayor explained, this conservative approach will imperil other sacred constitutional rights.
“It’s incomprehensible that the Court’s conservatives would prefer constitutional whack-a-mole instead of defending the federal constitution. But that’s what today’s decision says: ‘We choose to do next to nothing; good luck elsewhere.’”