Justice Department sues Texas over new abortion ban

The Justice Department has sued Texas over its new law banning abortions after six weeks, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in an announcement Thursday, calling the law “clearly unconstitutional.”

Driving the news: The lawsuit comes after Garland vowed to “protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services,” adding that “[w]e will not tolerate violence against those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services.”

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, allowed the law to go into effect earlier this month. The court’s three liberal justices — Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer — along with Chief Justice John Roberts dissented.

The big picture: Other states’ attempts to enact similar abortion bans have often been struck down by federal or state courts. However, the Texas law differs because it gives private citizens the power to enforce the law instead of the state.

Roberts called the move “not only unusual, but unprecedented,” adding that he would have temporarily blocked the law to allow lower courts to debate whether Texas “can avoid responsibility for its laws in such a manner.”

Of note: The law, which is the most restrictive abortion ban in the U.S., is already being challenged by several reproductive rights groups.

Go deeper:

DOJ vows to “protect” abortion seekers, providers in TexasTexas banned abortion after 6 weeks. Here’s what happens nextHere are the next states that could pass abortion bans after Texas

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