Justice Department readying legal challenge to Texas abortion ban

Justice Department readying legal challenge to Texas abortion ban

The Biden Justice Department is readying legal action to challenge the restrictive Texas abortion law. Protesters march against the abortion in Houston

By Evan Perez, CNN Justice Correspondent

The Biden Justice Department is readying legal action to challenge the restrictive Texas abortion law, a department official tells CNN.

The official would not say on what basis the lawsuit would be based upon, but department lawyers have been challenged to find a potential legal recourse.

A formal announcement is expected as soon as Thursday.

DOJ has been exploring legal avenues for challenging the six-week abortion ban in Texas after the US Supreme Court last week declined a request by clinics to block the law from going into effect.

The Texas law was designed specifically with the goal of making it more difficult for clinics to obtain federal court orders blocking enforcement of the law. Instead of creating criminal penalties for abortions conducted after a fetal heartbeat is detected, the Texas Legislature has tasked private citizens with enforcing the law by bringing private litigation against clinics — and anyone else who assists a woman in obtaining an abortion after six weeks.

Since the law went into effect, clinics across Texas have stopped offering abortions after six weeks, or have shuttered altogether.

In an unsigned opinion, the Supreme Court majority wrote that while the clinics had raised “serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law,” they had not met a burden that would allow the court to block it at this time due to “complex” and “novel” procedural questions.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday had pledged to protect abortion clinics in Texas by enforcing a federal law that prohibits making threats against patients seeking reproductive health services and obstructing clinic entrances.

“The department will provide support from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack,” Garland said. “We will not tolerate violence against those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services, physical obstruction or property damage in violation of the FACE Act.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the Biden administration’s preparations to sue.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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CNN’s Shawna Mizelle, Christina Carrega and Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.

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