Abortion, Gun Control Laws a Double Win for Texas
Texas Republicans celebrated two major victories Wednesday after the Supreme Court upheld a new abortion law the same day the state eased restrictions for handguns.
The weapons policy, signed in June, allows Texas residents to carry a handgun without a permit, background check, or training. Supporters believe the law will help Texas residents protect themselves following a series of mass shootings and amid a worsening crisis at the southern border, while opponents say it will increase the burden on law enforcement.
“Politicians from the federal level to the local level have threatened to take guns from law-abiding citizens, but we will not let that happen in Texas,” promised Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R). “Texas will always be the leader in defending the Second Amendment, which is why we built a barrier around gun rights this session.”
Later on Wednesday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold a Texas law blocking abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected (roughly six weeks into a pregnancy).
The ruling applied not to the constitutionality of the law, but to the way the law operates, notes NPR’s Nina Totenberg.
“This law is different than any other restriction on abortion that has been enacted by states in the past and blocked by the lower courts and the Supreme Court consistently,” explains Totenberg. “This law delegates enforcement not to the state officials but to any individual in the state, who can sue the clinic, sue individuals, sue potentially staff members…family members, people who drive abortion patients to the clinic. This law is very different.”
In an unsigned ruling, the Supreme Court implied it would hear the case again in the future if presented with an actual lawsuit and acknowledged that Texas abortion providers had raised important questions regarding the constitutionality of the law.
In his dissenting opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts said he would have blocked the law temporarily to give the lower courts more time to contemplate questions such as “whether a state can avoid responsibility for its laws” by “ delegating enforcement to…the populace at large.”
President Joe Biden spoke out against the ruling, saying it “unleashes unconstitutional chaos.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who also opposed the ruling, said the lower chamber would pursue legislation to reverse the court’s decision. “The Supreme Court’s cowardly, dark-of-night decision to uphold a flagrantly unconstitutional assault on women’s rights and health is staggering.”