Court Battles

Appeals court temporarily reinstates Texas abortion law

A U.S. court of appeals temporarily reinstated Texas’s six-week abortion law, issuing an administrative stay of a preliminary injunction granted to the Biden administration earlier this week by a federal judge that blocked the controversial law’s implementation. 

“It is ordered that Appellant’s emergency motion to stay the preliminary injunction pending appeal is temporarily held in abeyance pending further order by this motions panel,” the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday. 

The U.S. court of appeals directed the Department of Justice to respond to the emergency motion by 5 p.m. next Tuesday.

The stay, granted by the conservative panel Friday night, is a win for anti-abortion advocates and lawmakers in the state after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) filed a motion to the three-judge panel to stay U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman’s order. 

“Today I have filed a motion to stay the District Court’s lawless order in the 5th Circuit. I’ll continue to fight against the Biden Administration’s overreach,” Paxton confirmed on Twitter earlier Friday evening. 

Following the most recent ruling, Paxton called the decision “great news,” saying in a statement on Twitter “I will fight federal overreach at every turn.”

The Hill has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court declined to block the law that banned abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy. The law also allows private citizens to sue those believed to be aiding and abetting an abortion that is in violation of the law. 

The Biden administration filed an emergency motion to stop Texas from enforcing the law in mid-September. However, a judge scheduled a hearing for the beginning of October to weigh the administration’s request, giving the state roughly a month to allow the abortion ban to continue.

On Wednesday, Pitman blocked further enforcement of the law, writing in his ruling “a person’s right under the Constitution to choose to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability is well established.”

However in his ruling, the judge said that Texas could appeal the preliminary injunction.

Following the appeals court’s ruling to stay the preliminary injunction, several organizations criticized the decision.

The Center for Reproductive Rights’ president and CEO said in a statement that “the Supreme Court needs to step in and stop this madness.”

“It’s unconscionable that the Fifth Circuit stayed such a well-reasoned decision that allowed constitutionally protected services to return in Texas,” CEO Nancy Northup said late Friday.

“Patients are being thrown back into a state of chaos and fear, and this cruel law is falling hardest on those who already face discriminatory obstacles in health care, especially Black Indigenous, and other people of color, undocumented immigrants, young people, those struggling to make ends meet, and those in rural areas. The courts have an obligation to block laws that violate fundamental rights,” she continued.

“The Fifth Circuit has failed again to preserve a critical right that has long existed in the United States,” Adriana Piñon, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement Friday night.

“We’ve already seen the devastation caused by allowing this extremist law to exist for a few weeks. Texans are traveling hundreds of miles to access abortion care in overwhelmed clinics outside the state.”

The Hill has reached out to Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) office for further comment on the stay. 

Updated 10:49 p.m.

Tags Abortion Greg Abbott Ken Paxton Texas
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