September 29, 2021

Durbin Delivers Opening Remarks During Hearing on Texas's Unconstitutional Abortion Ban and the Role of the Shadow Docket

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered his opening statement during a hearing entitled “Texas’s Unconstitutional Abortion Ban and the Role of the Shadow Docket.”  The hearing will examine the consequences of Texas’s S.B. 8 abortion ban and the increasing use of the Supreme Court’s “shadow docket” to make drastic changes to legal and constitutional rights without full briefing, deliberation, or transparency. 

Key quotes:

“S.B. 8 flouts the Supreme Court’s long-established precedent in Roe v. Wade and effectively bans nearly all abortions in Texas, even in cases of rape and incest.”

“The architects of S.B. 8 took a new approach—instead of having the state enforce an extreme abortion ban, they put enforcement in the hands of private citizens who can get rewarded with a bounty of [no less] than $10,000.”

“This type of private vigilante enforcement scheme is unprecedented.  Texas lawmakers paired it with a clearly unconstitutional abortion ban in the hopes that it would shield the law from judicial review on the basis of jurisdictional questions about who could be sued to block the law.”

“In recent years, the Supreme Court has started to use the shadow docket for more political and controversial decisions, with results that appear, on the face, ideologically driven.”

“This may sound like an abstract legal debate, [but] it’s not.  The Court’s handling of S.B. 8 has had a dramatic real world impact.  There are millions of people who last month could exercise their fundamental reproductive rights in Texas, and now they can’t.”

“We now have two new dangerous precedents to contend with. First, with S.B. 8, Texas has created a model for how to undermine constitutional rights by using a bounty hunter enforcement scheme.  We are already seeing lawmakers in other states racing to copy that model.  That should trouble anyone who cares about constitutional rights and orderly enforcement. Second, the Supreme Court has now shown that it is willing to allow even facially unconstitutional laws to take effect when the laws align with certain ideological preferences.”

“Constitutional rights for millions of Americans should not be stripped away in the dark of night, even at the Supreme Court… It is already too late for many Texans whose rights have been suspended, and who have been forced to leave the state to seek reproductive health care the Constitution already guarantees them.  But it is not too late for the rest of the country and the Court to change course.” 

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.

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