Supreme Court refuses to send Texas pro-life law back to trial judge who blocked law

The Supreme Court refused to send the Texas pro-life law back to the trial judge who originally blocked the law, sending it instead back to the 5th Circuit:

BLOOMBERG – The U.S. Supreme Court formally returned a case over Texas’ six-week abortion ban to a federal appeals court, rejecting a request by clinics and doctors to send the matter directly to a trial judge who once blocked the law.

The order Thursday came six days after a divided Supreme Court left the law in force and let abortion providers press only a narrow part of their challenge. The new order was signed by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who wrote the majority opinion in the case.

The justices normally wait 25 days to issue a formal judgment, and the decision to do so ahead of schedule was a partial victory for the providers. But by sending the case to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has repeatedly backed the law, the high court left open the possibility of further delays.

Texas officials led by Attorney General Ken Paxton told the high court they plan to ask the 5th Circuit to request that the Texas Supreme Court interpret a key provision before the case goes back to the trial court level. That process could take weeks, if not months.

The providers are seeking to get their suit back before U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, who has been receptive to claims that the law infringes the constitutional right to abortion. When the Supreme Court ruled Dec. 10, four justices indicated in a partial dissent they hoped Pitman would move quickly.

“Given the ongoing chilling effect of the state law, the district court should resolve this litigation and enter appropriate relief without delay,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for himself and the court’s three liberals.

The Supreme Court normally returns federal cases to the appeals court level. But the Texas dispute was unusual because the Supreme Court was directly reviewing Pitman’s decision without an intervening 5th Circuit ruling. The providers said that was a reason to send the matter all the way back to the trial judge.

The way I read this, the case will eventually be sent back to the trial courts and Pittman could get it. Or some other trial judge. Either way, for now abortion is illegal in the state of Texas after six weeks and it should stay that way while the case gets litigated.

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