Sep 9, 2021

AG Merrick Garland Announces Action Against Texas Abortion Law Press Conference Transcript

AG Merrick Garland Announces Action Against Texas Abortion Law Press Conference Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsAG Merrick Garland Announces Action Against Texas Abortion Law Press Conference Transcript

AG Merrick Garland announced a lawsuit against Texas over the new abortion ban law on September 9, 2021. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.

Transcribe Your Own Content

Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.

AG Garland: (03:13)
Good afternoon. Last week, as the Supreme Court allowed Texas Senate bill 8 to take effect, I said that the Justice Department was evaluating all options to protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons today. After careful assessment of the facts and the law, the justice department has filed a lawsuit against the State of Texas. Our position is set out in detail in our complaint. It’s basis is as follows: SB8 bans, nearly all abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant and months before a pregnancy is viable. It does so even in cases of rape, sexual abuse or incest, and it further prohibits any effort to aide the doctors who provide pre viability abortions or the women who seek them. The act is clearly unconstitutional under longstanding Supreme Court precedent. Those precedents hold in the words of Planned Parenthood versus Casey, that, “Regardless of whether exceptions are made for particular circumstances, a state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.” Texas does not dispute that it statute violates Supreme Court precedent.

AG Garland: (04:47)
Instead, the statute includes an unprecedented scheme to in the chief justice’s words, “Insulate the state from responsibility.” It does not rely on the state’s executive branch to enforce the law as is the norm in Texas and everywhere else, rather the statute deputizes all private citizens without any showing of personal connection or injury to serve as bounty hunters, authorized to recover at least $10,000 per claim from individuals who facilitate a woman’s exercise of her constitutional rights. The obvious and expressly acknowledged intention of this statutory scheme is to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights by thwarting judicial review for as long as possible. Thus far, the law has had its intended effect. Because the statute makes it too risky for an abortion clinic to stay open, abortion providers have ceased providing services. This leaves women in Texas unable to exercise their constitutional rights and unable to obtain judicial review at the very moment they need it.

AG Garland: (06:11)
This kind of scheme to nullify the constitution of the United States is one that all Americans, whatever their politics or party, should fear. If it prevails, it may become a model for action in other areas, by other states and with respect to other constitutional rights and judicial precedence. Nor need one think long are hard to realize the damage that would be done to our society if states were allowed to implement laws and empower any private individual to infringe on another’s constitutionally protected rights in this way. The United States has the authority and the responsibility to ensure that no state can deprive individuals of their constitutional rights through a legislative scheme, specifically designed to prevent the vindication of those rights.

AG Garland: (07:15)
The United States also brings a suit to assert other federal interests that SB8 unconstitutionally impairs. Among other things, SB8 conflicts with federal law, by prohibiting federal agencies from exercising their authorities and carrying out their responsibilities under federal laws relating to abortion services. It also [inaudible 00:07:41] and non-governmental partners who implement those laws to civil liability and penalties. Among the federal agencies and programs whose operations the statute unconstitutionally restricts are the Labor Department’s Job Corps program. The Defense Department’s Tri-Care Health Program, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the Bureau of Prisons, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of Personnel Management. The complaint therefore seeks a declaratory judgment that SB8 is invalid under the Supremacy Clause and the 14th Amendment and violates the doctrine of inter-governmental immunity. The United States also sakes a permanent and preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement of the statute against the State of Texas, including against the state’s officers, employees and agents and private parties it has effectively deputized who would bring suit under SB8.

AG Garland: (08:48)
The Department of Justice has a duty to defend the Constitution of the United States and to uphold the rule of law. Today, we fulfill that duty by filing the lawsuit I have just described. [inaudible 00:09:04] and collectively as a nation and let there be no doubt, the threat from foreign terrorists, like those involved in the September 11th attack is one we must constantly guard against. But what we can do and what we have done is learn from the past to better anticipate and prepare for the next threat and to seek to disrupt it. As we mark this anniversary, we rededicate ourselves at the Justice Department to doing all we can to protect the American people from terrorism in all its forms, whether originating from abroad or at home and to doing so in a manner that is consistent with our values and the rule of law. With that, I’m happy to take questions.

Speaker 3: (10:01)
Attorney General Garland, is there a provision in the Texas law that you personally find especially concerning?

AG Garland: (10:11)
Well, I think I’ve described all of the provisions that I find especially concerning, and the complaint does that in even more detail. So I wouldn’t pick any one.

Speaker 4: (10:24)
So there’s been several GOP lawmakers who said that they will follow Texas’ lead. And I was wondering if you expect DOJ to be involved in similar actions against other states? Would it be a leap to say that this could be one of several civil actions?

AG Garland: (10:42)
Well, as I said in my remarks, the greater risk here, the additional and further risk here is that other states will follow similar models with respect, not only to this constitutional right, but theoretically against any constitutional right, and in any other state. So if another state uses the same kind of provisions to deprive its citizens of their constitutional rights and in particular, to deprive their citizens of the ability to seek immediate review, we will bring the same kind of lawsuit.

Speaker 5: (11:20)
So there had been some pressure, it seems from a Democratic lawmakers on the Hill and anti-abortion groups and even some could argue from the White House, on the Department of Justice to do something about this Texas law. Did you feel any of that pressure? Did that play any role in this?

AG Garland: (11:38)
The Department of Justice does not file lawsuits based on pressure. We carefully evaluated the law and the facts and this complaint expresses our view about the law and the facts.

Speaker 1: (11:51)
All right. Thanks everybody.

AG Garland: (11:52)
Thank you all.

Transcribe Your Own Content

Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.