Texas Abortion Law Boosts Mimic Gun Laws, Critical Race Theory


A gun rights group warned the Supreme Court in late October that adherence to Texas’ so-called vigilante anti-abortion law would have serious consequences for other constitutionally protected activities.

“The most helpful way to appreciate the importance of this case is to stop seeing it as an abortion case and recognize it for what it is,” wrote Erik Jaffe, lawyer in Washington, DC. , for the Firearms Policy Coalition – a vehicle to “deter the exercise of all rights. “

The Supreme Court ignored the warning, which came from both right and left, and decided 5 to 4 this month to drop a law that will make abortion impossible in Texas for most women and which was designed to prevent the right to abortion. lawyers get an injunction to block it.

Today, political leaders in other states support similar legal agendas, not all of which target abortion.

Texas law allows citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone who helps a woman get an abortion after five or six weeks of pregnancy, when many women may not even know their condition. Successful claimants receive at least $ 10,000 if they win, and defendants must pay their legal fees. Abortion providers have no way of blocking the law in court and cannot recover attorney fees even if the lawsuit was clearly frivolous.

Gov. Gavin Newsom hit back days after the Supreme Court ruling, announcing he would lead the passage of a California law modeled after Texas law but targeting the gun industry. Newsom’s proposal would allow citizens to sue to stop the sale, distribution and manufacture of assault weapons and phantom weapons.

Some legal experts have described Newsom’s action as a politically motivated coup to rally his base ahead of his next election. Others said he was trying to show “the hypocrisy of the Supreme Court”, which now has a right-wing militant majority that promotes gun rights and opposes abortion.

“As much as you hate abortion or as much as you hate guns, welcome to the world where you will have the opportunity to violate constitutional rights,” Jaffe said in an interview.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, attempting to portray himself as an avenging “elite” conservative populist, followed Newsom and proposed a law similar to Texas last Wednesday targeting education in public schools. This would give parents a financial incentive to sue schools if teachers appear to be teaching students Critical Race Theory, an academic framework that analyzes the number of legal principles as well as government and business actions stemming from racism.

Jaffe said laws like the Texas law should be condemned by both the right and the left, regardless of the subject being targeted. He compared the situation to that of the American Civil Liberties Union which defended the right of neo-Nazis to protest in Skokie, Ill., In 1978, because even speech that is abhorred should be protected.

UCLA law professor Jon D. Michaels, one of many academics who joined a Supreme Court amicus brief against Texas law, only agreed to a certain extent.

In a perfect world, he said, the Supreme Court would have struck down the abortion law and banned imitators. “We should not let states pick and choose which constitutional rights they are going to uphold and turn into targeted practice,” he said.

On the other hand, “I don’t think it’s fair that one part plays differently from the other.” He called Newsom’s proposal narrow. Assault weapons are not constitutionally protected and are already banned in California. If the Supreme Court grants them constitutional protection, then a state gun law could be used to attempt to enforce a ban.

Newsom’s proposal, Michaels said, amounted to “a gradual counterattack” to the Supreme Court ruling. “I don’t think a party should disarm unilaterally,” he said.

Stanford law professor John Donohue, who has served as an expert witness for California in a gun dispute, said Newsom’s ploy was “probably good” because it could cause courts to “rethink” their lawsuit. treatment of laws like that of Texas.

“Tit for tat may be the most effective way to bring the other side back online,” Donohue said.

In an op-ed published Monday in the Washington Post, Newsom said it was his hope.

“Perhaps the California decision will lead the court to change its mind on licensing the Texas bounty hunter program,” Newsom wrote. “If this is the case, reproductive care for women across our country would be better off. “

Not all of the new Texas law proposals target constitutional rights, but they do allow citizens to receive a “bounty” if they win their cases.

Michaels noted that a bill has been introduced in Illinois to allow citizen lawsuits against people who present false documents to claim they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. He said he could foresee a blue state trying to enforce limits on campaign contributions by allowing citizen prosecutions.

These “proposed laws are fundamentally different from any legal regime we are used to,” he said.

Usually, he said, a person can only sue if they have been injured. Texas law allows anyone to sue. This amounts to “legal self-defense because it is difficult to push back these lawsuits,” Michaels said.

Newsom’s proposal would allow private citizens who win gun lawsuits to receive at least $ 10,000 for each violation, court costs, and attorney fees. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is now assessing the constitutionality of the state’s assault weapons ban.

Jaffe wondered if Newsom’s proposal, depending on how any future legislation is drafted, would have any practical effect. Firearms companies in California already comply with California law, he said.

“If he really wanted to follow Texas down the path, what he would do is ban all firearms or the sale of any firearm and any period of ammunition,” Jaffe said.

Chuck Michel, lawyer and president of the California Rifle & Pistol Assn., Said the gun industry will challenge any California law that further restricts gun rights. The Texas High Court ruling, he said, should not be interpreted as giving states “carte blanche” to follow in Texas’ footsteps.

“Otherwise, every Red State will attack civil rights it doesn’t like, and every Blue State will attack civil rights it doesn’t like,” Michel said. “This is going to lead to games that no one will like.”

Newsom wrote that he was okay with these bonus laws being ended.

“But if only radical conservative interests follow the Texas manual,” he wrote, “we’ll never see a change.”

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