Abortion providers on Monday asked the Supreme Court to require a conservative federal appeals court to return their challenge to Texas’ six-week abortion ban to a district court judge who previously ruled in their favor.
The long-shot bid on the part of the providers is their latest attempt to revive their challenge to the law, four months after it was allowed to take effect, bringing to a halt abortions in the country’s second largest state.
Last month, the Supreme Court allowed the controversial law to remain in effect but it did clear a limited path forward for the providers to sue a handful of licensing officials in the state in order to block them from enforcing the law. The court’s ruling was a devastating blow to supporters of abortion rights who had hoped the justices would block the law outright. Instead, the case was returned to a conservative federal appeals court.
The current dispute centers on whether the appeals court should immediately return what is left of the providers’ case to a district court judge who has expressed deep skepticism over the law, or whether the case can remain in the conservative leaning 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals for proceedings that could take months to resolve, further delaying the providers’ case.
The 5th Circuit – which ruled in favor of the law during an earlier phase of the lawsuit – is set to hold arguments in the case on Friday.
In legal filings filed Monday night, lawyers for the Center for Reproductive Rights accused the appeals court of unnecessarily delaying the case and said that it should have immediately sent the dispute back to the district court.
“Absent intervention by the Court, the Fifth Circuit is poised to entertain questions already decided by the Court in direct violation of this Court’s mandate and delay further resolution of this case in the district court by at least weeks, and potentially months or more,” Marc Hearron, a lawyer for the providers, told the court.