Senate Judiciary Committee To Investigate Texas Abortion Ban


The Senate Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing after the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy to go into effect in Texas. The Supreme Court made this decision without going through the ordinary hearing process. Instead, the issue was a part of the court’s “shadow docket,” a term which CNN identifies as a “nickname for emergency actions taken by the court that do not go through the full briefing and hearing process of a formal opinion.” In addition to the Texas abortion law and the Supreme Court ruling allowing it to take effect, the upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the matter will also examine the shadow docket.

Senate Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) commented as follows this week:

‘The Supreme Court must operate with the highest regard for judicial integrity in order to earn the public’s trust. This anti-choice law is a devastating blow to Americans’ constitutional rights—and the Court allowed it to see the light of day without public deliberation or transparency.  At a time when public confidence in government institutions has greatly eroded, we must examine not just the constitutional impact of allowing the Texas law to take effect, but also the conservative Court’s abuse of the shadow docket.’

Neither a date nor witnesses for the impending hearing have yet been set. In the meantime, the damaging impacts of the Texas law are clear. Besides its ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — at which point many don’t even know that they’re pregnant yet — the Texas law also includes provisions allowing private citizens to sue those suspected of having been involved in the procurement of an illegal abortion. Should such a lawsuit prove its claim, then the person who brought it is entitled to at least $10,000. In other words, Texas has essentially set up a deranged bounty system targeting those who may be seeking to help pregnant people exercise their right to choose.

President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland have also been among those speaking out against the Texas law. Biden said that he was directing certain federal offices “to launch a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision, looking specifically to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to see what steps the Federal Government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe.” Garland, meanwhile, added that the Justice Department was “evaluating all options to protect the constitutional rights of women, including access to an abortion.”