Justice Department Ready to Sue Over Texas Abortion Law U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland during a news conference at the Department of Justice on Aug. 05, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
By Jeffrey Rodack | Thursday, 09 September 2021 08:32 AM
The Justice Department is set to file suit against Texas in an attempt to block the state’s law banning most abortions, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.
The suit could be filed as early as Thursday. The Journal attributed the information to people familiar with the matter.
The Justice Department is expected to argue that the law illegally interferes with federal interests, a source told the newspaper. But further details of the suit were unknown.
A Justice Department spokesman would not comment on the report. A spokeswoman for GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Monday, Attorney General Merrick Garland had said the Justice Department would "protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services" under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, The Associated Press reported.
The federal law prevents anyone from obstructing or using the threat of force to intimidate or interfere with a person seeking reproductive health services.
But the Texas law bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, often at six weeks. It also allows private citizens to file suit against anyone suspected of facilitating an abortion — even those who take a woman to get an abortion.
Officials from the Justice Department have had discussions with U.S. attorneys in Texas and the FBI field offices about how to enforce the federal provisions, according to The Associated Press.
"The department will provide support from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack," Garland had said on Monday. "We will not tolerate violence against those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services, physical obstruction or property damage in violation of the FACE Act."
Politico noted that both Garland and President Joe Biden have been vague about how the Justice Department was going to respond.
"I was told that there are possibilities within the existing law to have the Justice Department look and see whether there are things that can be done that can limit the independent action of individuals in enforcing … a state law," Biden had said. "I don’t know enough to give you an answer yet."