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DOJ files for immediate injunction to halt enforcement of Texas abortion law

ABC News logo ABC News 9/15/2021
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After announcing their lawsuit last week, the U.S. Department of Justice Tuesday evening filed for an immediate injunction to halt Texas' enforcement of their restrictive law banning most abortions in the state.

"The State of Texas adopted S.B. 8 to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights," the DOJ says in their motion. "This attempt to shield a plainly unconstitutional law from review cannot stand. The United States seeks a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of S.B. 8."

a group of people standing in front of a crowd © Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images MORE: How the Texas abortion law may actually be enforced

Department officials wrote that the order "is necessary to protect the constitutional rights of women in Texas and the sovereign interest of the United States in ensuring that its States respect the terms of the national compact," adding that "it is also necessary to protect federal agencies, employees, and contractors whose lawful actions S.B. 8 purports to prohibit."

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11, 2021, in Austin, Texas. © Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11, 2021, in Austin, Texas.

"The United States has the authority and responsibility to ensure that Texas cannot insulate itself from judicial review for its constitutional violations and to protect the important federal interests that S.B. 8 impair," the DOJ's motion says.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced last week that the Justice Department had filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas, challenging its abortion law. The move set up a high-stakes legal battle after the Supreme Court allowed the law to go into effect earlier this month. Garland also said at the time that the DOJ was seeking an immediate court order preventing the enforcement of S.B. 8 in Texas.

a person standing in front of a brick building: FILE Signage is seen at the headquarters of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 10, 2021. © Andrew Kelly/Reuters FILE Signage is seen at the headquarters of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 10, 2021.

The lawsuit accuses Texas lawmakers of enacting the law -- which bans physicians from providing abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, or as soon as six weeks into a pregnancy -- "in open defiance of the Constitution."

And in a press conference, Garland said Texas Republicans are crafting a "statutory scheme" through the law "to nullify the Constitution of the United States."

MORE: Desperation, 'crisis' at Planned Parenthood clinic under new Texas abortion law

It's unclear when the judge might rule on the DOJ's emergency request.

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