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Supreme Court returns Texas Heartbeat Law to 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

by | Dec 16, 2021

By Dave Andrusko

Justice Neil Gorsuch on Thursday signed a court  order that returns the lawsuit over Texas Heartbeat Law to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. He also “grant[ed] the providers request to bypass the normal 25-day waiting period and send the paperwork immediately to the lower court,” CNN’s Ariane de Vogue reported.

Abortion providers had sought to have the case returned to U.S. Judge Robert Pitman, who briefly blocked enforcement of S.B.8. In granting a preliminary injunction forbidding the state, its officials, and private individuals acting in concert with them from enforcing the law, Judge Pitman wrote “That other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion is theirs to decide. This court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.”

S.B. 8. will stay in effect indefinitely, even though the limited state enforcement of the law through professional licensing boards will be subject to challenge in federal court.

The state told the justices “it plans to ask the appeals court to, in turn, seek a definitive ruling from the Texas Supreme Court over the role the licensing officials play in enforcing the abortion ban,” the AP’s Mark Sherman reported.

The 5th Circuit has previously allowed the law to remain on the books “and is now likely to send the case to the Texas Supreme Court to resolve questions concerning the enforcement authority of the licensing officials,” CNN’s de Vogue  reported. 

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