Suing Texas State Senate Bill 8 Plaintiffs under Federal Law for Violations of Constitutional Rights

4 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2021 Last revised: 24 Sep 2021

See all articles by Anthony J. Colangelo

Anthony J. Colangelo

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law

Date Written: September 2021

Abstract

Many people are deriding (or celebrating) the exceptional—and exceptionally deceptive—device of the Texas legislature to so-called “deputize” private individuals as government enforcement agents to carry out a state anti-abortion law that, at present, violates the U.S. Constitution. The law at issue, commonly referred to as Senate Bill 8, is extraordinarily broad, and provides that anyone can sue anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy (including, if read literally, the Uber driver who drove the woman to the clinic). The law awards recovery of $10,000 and makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape.

Actually, the deceptive nature of the law can be subdivided into three devices. I’ll address each in turn with the principal aim of suing someone under federal law for bringing suit under the Texas state law. In this respect, I’ll be going quite a bit further than those who seek simply to spotlight the unconstitutionality of the Texas law. Rather, I’m going after the plaintiff who sues under it. I conclude that Senate Bill 8 plaintiffs can indeed be liable under federal civil rights law.

Keywords: abortion, civil rights, Section 1983

Suggested Citation

Colangelo, Anthony J., Suing Texas State Senate Bill 8 Plaintiffs under Federal Law for Violations of Constitutional Rights (September 2021). 74 SMU Law Review Forum 136 (2021), SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 521, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3917927

Anthony J. Colangelo (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 750116
Dallas, TX 75275
United States
2147682372 (Phone)

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