Attorney General Ellison files support of DOJ’S lawsuit against Texas abortion ban

Joins coalition of 24 AGs in amicus brief rejecting Texas law banning abortions after six weeks

September 15, 2021 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today joined a coalition of 24 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) challenge to Texas’ new unconstitutional six-week ban on abortions. Attorney General Ellison and the coalition specifically support DOJ’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction of the law, which went into effect earlier this month. 

“Texas’ law is blatantly unconstitutional. It doesn’t only hurt millions of women in Texas, it hurts women in Minnesota and across the country. Making your own reproductive choices is fundamental to living with dignity and respect. I will use power of my office to fight this unconstitutional law and unconstitutional laws like whenever I can so that that women everywhere can live with dignity and respect,” Attorney General Ellison said.  

In the brief, filed today in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Attorney General Ellison and the coalition argue that by banning nearly all pre-viability abortions within Texas’s borders, the law, Senate Bill 8 (S.B. 8), violates nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent that has affirmed the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability. The attorneys general further contend that the Texas Legislature sought to circumvent prior Supreme Court rulings and to prevent judicial review of the law by delegating enforcement authority to private individuals instead of the government and, as such, S.B. 8 is an “unprecedented attack on our constitutional order” and the rule of law. 

The coalition asserts that the clear purpose of S.B. 8’s private enforcement scheme is to produce an “across-the-board ban on constitutionally protected activity,” and that the private enforcement mechanism does not shield Texas’s unconstitutional law from judicial review. They describe how Texas created a structure within its state court system that requires courts to provide monetary and injunctive relief to claimants who bring cases against providers and those who “aid and abet” such constitutionally protected care. They argue that the federal district court should not allow Texas to render the constitutionally protected rights recognized in Roe v. Wade legally void through the law’s transparent scheme. 

The coalition also describes how the law is already significantly impacting abortion provider clinics in Texas and beyond, including in amici states. Clinics in nearby states are already reporting a rise in calls from Texas patients seeking abortions, and one day after the law went into effect, all abortion clinics in New Mexico were reportedly booked for weeks. This rise in abortion caseloads in other states from Texas patients and the increase in needed travel for patients could result in many people — especially low-income people — being unable to receive the care they need. The law also threatens the many people who help patients in Texas obtain access to an abortion by creating a more than $10,000 potential liability for anyone who so much as gives a patient a ride to an abortion provider or otherwise “aids or abets” an abortion. The amici states are committed to shielding their residents and clinicians from these harms when they help a patient in Texas obtain constitutionally protected care. 

Finally, Attorney General Ellison and the coalition argue that it is essential for the federal district court to enjoin the law immediately to stop the irreparable harm that S.B. 8 is inflicting on people in Texas and across the country including the amici states. Forcing a patient to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, the brief argues, will lead to negative health and socioeconomic consequences, including placing people who are forced to carry a pregnancy to term at greater risk of life-threatening illnesses and harming their ability to maintain full-time employment. 

Today’s brief was led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and was joined, in addition to Attorney General Ellison, by the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

A copy of the amicus brief is available on the website of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey