SCOTUS Says State Judges and Court Clerks Can’t Be Sued To Block Enforcement of the Texas Abortion Ban

Today, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas judges or court clerks can’t be sued in order to prevent enforcement of a law prohibiting abortions after detectable fetal heart activity. However, it stated that the S.B. 8 effective September 1st, can be challenged by plaintiffs against the state medical regulators.

S.B. Although S.B. Instead of allowing state and local officials to enforce its terms, the law allows “anyone” to sue anyone who facilitates an abortion. The law promises prevailing plaintiffs minimum $10,000 in “statutory damages” plus reimbursement for their legal expenses.

S.B. challenged the abortion providers 8. Whole Woman’s Health, v. JacksonSmith County District Judge Austin Reeve Jackson, and Penny Clarkston were sued to remove the obstacle. They represented a group of officials from the judicial branch who they claimed would be essential in enforcement S.B. 8, by hearing and docketing the lawsuits authorized. Robert Pitman, U.S. District Judge, accepted the argument. The U.S. Court of Appeals of the 5th Circuit deemed the argument “specious,” stating that the Supreme Court had made it clear that states judges were not appropriate defendants when a law is challenged.

Today’s Court decision agrees with 5th Circuit in this regard. The Eleventh Amendment provides that the States are generally immune from lawsuits.
doctrine of sovereign immunity,” Justice Neil Gorsuch noted in an opinion to the Court. The 1908 case Ex parte YoungThe Court made an exception and ruled that state officials who enforce an unconstitutional law may be sued as their official representatives.

“But as Ex parte YoungGorsuch wrote that “this exception is not usually allowed federal courts the power to injunct against state-court clerks or judges.” These individuals don’t enforce state laws like executive officers might. Instead, they resolve conflicts between the parties. A state court that makes erroneous rulings can appeal to the Court. This is not an injunction prohibiting the court from hearing any cases. You can find more information at Ex parte YoungSimply put, an injunction against the state court’s’machinery or state court’ would be a violation “of our entire Government scheme.”

Gorsuch further notes that Article III gives the federal courts the authority to settle only “actual controversies” between the adverse litigants. Private parties may bring S.B. He says that while 8 lawsuits in state court could be brought by litigants against the petitioners, the “state-court clerks” who file those cases and the judges who rule on them are generally not. Clerks file the cases when they are received, and do not participate in these disputes as adversaries. Judges are there to solve controversies over a law or to conform it to the Federal or State Constitutions.

Additionally, Ken Paxton was not named as a defendant by the Court. “While Ex parte YoungGorsuch suggests that federal courts can enjoin state officials from violating state laws. Gorsuch insists, however Gorsuch asserts that the petitioners have not directed this Court to any enforcement authority held by S. B. 8 that could be obstructively exercised by a federal court.”

According to the Court, however, defendants who are state health regulators for the plaintiffs appear “to be within the scope” of Ex parte YoungThe historic exception to the state sovereign immunity is because the “each of the individuals are an executive licensing official who can or should take enforcement action against petitioners if the terms of Texas’s Health and Safety Code including S. B. 8.” According to the Court, abortion providers can request an injunction prohibiting officials from applying S.B. 8. However, this would not prohibit civil actions from private plaintiffs.

The Court reached a unanimous conclusion about state judges. The Court also ruled that Mark Dickson was the victim of claims. Mark Dickson is a pro-life activist and supports S.B. However, he states that he doesn’t plan to sue any S.B. 8 lawsuits. 8 cases should be dismissed. Most justices agreed that Paxton, Clarkston and other court clerks cannot be sued to prevent enforcement of S.B. 8. Clarence Thomas was the only justice who disagreed with Clarence Thomas’ conclusion that regulators were appropriate defendants.

John Roberts (Chief Justice) joined by Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in partial dissent, noted that S.B. 8 has had the effect “of denying the exerciseof what we believe is a protected right under the Federal Constitution.” He expressed concern over the “Texas’ use of a variety of strategies to protect its non-constitutional laws from judicial review.” These tricks “effectively chill Texas’ provision of abortions,” he said.

Roberts et al. Roberts et al. 8.” Clarkston was also considered a proper defendant. “The mere threat of unsuccessful suits brought under S. B. Roberts writes that there are 8 constitutionally protected acts, given certain rules that have been imposed by the State. In these conditions, court clerks are required to file citations and enforce S. B. In order to enforce S. B., 8 cases will unavoidably be included in the program. 8 of the unconstitutional provisions are enlisted in the scheme to enforce S. B.[ed]”To such enforcement to constitute proper defendants.”

Sotomayor joined Breyer, Kagan and Kagan in a partial dissident opinion. 8 “has threatened abortion-care providers with practically unlimited suits for damages brought anywhere in Texas, by private bounty hunter’s, for taking any action that assists women exercising their constitutional right of choice.” She claims that the chilling effect had been almost total and deprived Texas pregnant women of any opportunity to obtain abortion care in their own state after six weeks of their pregnancy. S.B. 8 can be sued. She writes that people can sue under S.B. 8 to raise constitutional issues. However, it is possible for them to bring up constitutional objections.

Sotomayor believes “The Court should’ve put an end this madness before S. B.” 8 went into effect. She warns that this “brazen challenge to our federal structure” may inspire imitation by legislators bent on undermining other constitutional rights recognized by the Court—a concern Justice Brett Kavanaugh raised during oral arguments in this case.

Sotomayor says, “This cannot be hypothetical.” S. B. has new permutations 8
coming. Since the Court’s failure to stop the law being implemented, several States legislators have debated or introduced legislation to replicate the Court’s plan to displace locally-favored rights. One footnote refers to proposals that target both gun rights and abortion rights.

How can the federal courts handle a situation where a State prohibits worship for a minority religious group by creating a crushing litigation load and increasing the burden of court procedure, while doing a better job than Texas in denying all state enforcement? Sotomayor asks. Sotomayor asks. While there may be a path for relief that is not yet recognized, it seems the Court has now blocked the easiest route according to its precedents. It is a regrettable decision that I foresee the Court making, as well as the nation.