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Photo: Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to keep in place a law that bans abortions after an embryo's cardiac activity is detected, which can be as soon as six weeks and before many people know they are pregnant.

Driving the news: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the high court to ignore the Justice Department's emergency request that they temporarily block the law while federal courts consider its constitutionality since it "lacks standing because it has not been injured by SB 8."

  • Paxton also argues that the DOJ lacks standing because it is suing the state, adding that "Texas executive officials do not enforce SB 8," so "there is therefore no state executive or judicial official who can be enjoined" to stop enforcing the law if a temporary injunction is granted.

The big picture: The court, which currently has a 6-3 conservative majority, previously allowed the law to go into effect but did not rule on its constitutionality.

Context: Instead of being formally enforced by the state, the law encourages private citizens to sue anyone who assists pregnant people with getting an abortion.

  • Chief Justice John Roberts has called the Texas law's enforcement "not only unusual, but unprecedented."

Catch up quick: Earlier this month, a three-judge panel for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the DOJ's initial emergency request to suspend the ban.

  • In response, the DOJ on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block the law while federal courts consider its constitutionality.
  • The department argued that the ban is "plainly unconstitutional" because it violates Roe "by banning abortion long before viability — indeed, before many women even realize they are pregnant."

Between the lines: In its request, the DOJ also raised the possibility that the Supreme Court could take up their case (U.S. v. Texas) before lower courts reach a decision.

  • Paxton said that if the court does decide to take up the case and hear arguments, it should consider overturning the 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortions in the U.S., and the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld the right to get an abortion.

What's next: The Supreme Court could either grant or reject the DOJ's application, or it could decide to take up the entire case.

  • If they decide to hear the case, it would mean the court would hear two major abortion cases this term that would challenge Roe, including Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.

Read Texas' response:

Go deeper

New report hits DOJ over lack of police shooting data

Demonstrations followed the shooting of Dijon Kizzee by Los Angeles Sheriff's deputies in 2020. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

A new government accountability report says the Department of Justice failed to consistently publish an annual summary of police excessive force data from 2016 to 2020, as required by federal law.

Why it matters: The data is crucial for the DOJ to monitor excessive force cases, and used to investigate law enforcement agencies with patterns of abuse. The DOJ can pivot off it to pursue court action to force reforms.

Advancement of court tech didn't benefit everyone

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Forced closures during the pandemic fueled many U.S. courts to adopt new technology to function virtually, but a new report shows the advancements didn't help everyone equally.

Why it matters: Technology choices sparked equity issues for people without lawyers, particularly in eviction cases in civil court, according to new research published by the Pew Charitable Trusts this month.

  • It also made navigating the court system difficult for people with limited internet and computer access, individuals with disabilities, and people with limited English proficiency.

Latinas head for the federal bench

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photos: Tom Williams, Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

A number of Latina judges recently have been nominated to U.S. federal courts, which for many years saw few Hispanics and Afro-Latinos on their benches.

Why it matters: Decisions made in courtrooms can affect people in ways large and small, with cases on voting rights, abortion, healthcare and more playing out in courts across the country.