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SCOTUS Keeps Texas Heartbeat Law Alive, But Roberts Joins Court’s Left-Wing In Foreshadowing Pro-Abortion Dissent

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The ruling did not interfere with the Texas law’s current standing but merely opened the door for certain entities to sue the state over the law.

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that abortion facilities in Texas may sue certain officials in the Lone Star State over its recently enacted “heartbeat law,” which went into effect on Sept. 1 and bans killing unborn babies past six weeks gestation.

In a largely procedural decision, the court determined that Texas abortion providers can take legal action in lower courts against Texas licensing officials over the pro-life law but reaffirmed that other state authorities may not be sued. The ruling did not interfere with the law’s current standing but merely opened up the door for certain entities to sue the state over the law.

In the majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch argued that “certain abortion providers can pursue a pre-enforcement challenge to a recently enacted Texas statute” but reaffirmed that the question of the law’s constitutionality “is not before the Court.”

Despite Gorsuch’s emphasis, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote his own opinion, signed onto by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan, that used terminology signaling his opposition to the law and his belief that it is unconstitutional.

“Texas has employed an array of stratagems designed to shield its unconstitutional law from judicial review,” Roberts wrote.

Later he added that “these provisions, among others, effectively chill the provision of abortions in Texas” and claimed that abortion is “a federal right.”

Roberts’ strong display of opposition to the Texas law prompted some to speculate whether he could be the fourth vote in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to side with upholding abortion law and Roe v. Wade.

In a separate decision, the court also rejected a challenge to the heartbeat law by President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice.