Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin stated on Friday that the judiciary committee of the Senate will convene a hearing to evaluate the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Texas’ stringent abortion ban.
Durbin, the committee’s chairman, accused the high court of abusing its so-called “shadow docket,” which refers to rushed rulings issued outside of the regular docket and without oral arguments.
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 late Wednesday rejected an emergency motion for relief filed by Texas abortion doctors seeking to block the state’s new legislation.
Texas Senate Bill 8, signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in May, outlaws abortions when a heartbeat is detectable, which is about six weeks into a pregnancy. It will deny the procedure to about 85% of patients who seek it in the state.
The ban is enforced by members of the public who are able to sue anyone who provides or is involved in aiding and performing abortions barred by SB8, including anyone who drives a patient to the procedure.
Durbin decried the decision, along with another shadow docket decision last week in which the court overturned the Biden administration’s pandemic-related eviction moratorium. He said such rulings can leave lower courts in the dark about how to apply Supreme Court precedent going forward.
“The Supreme Court must operate with the highest regard for judicial integrity in order to earn the public’s trust,” Durbin said. “This anti-choice law is a devastating blow to Americans’ constitutional rights — and the court allowed it to see the light of day without public deliberation or transparency. At a time when public confidence in government institutions has greatly eroded, we must examine not just the constitutional impact of allowing the Texas law to take effect, but also the conservative court’s abuse of the shadow docket.”
President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also vowed to fight Texas’ new abortion law.
The House’s top Democrat said she plans to bring up Rep. Judy Chu’s Women’s Health Protection Act, which will codify the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision on abortion into law. Biden said he’s instructed his administration to launch a “whole-of-government effort” to respond to the law and see what the executive branch can do to ensure access to abortion for Texas women.