Protests outside Supreme Court
Pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates both demonstrate outside the the Supreme Court on Monday. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

A California gun rights group filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in opposition to Texas’ new anti-abortion law because of worries that other states could copy it to limit gun ownership.

The Sacramento-based Firearms Policy Coalition argued in its brief that “the approach used by Texas to avoid pre-enforcement review of its restriction on abortion and its delegation of enforcement to private litigants could just as easily be used by other states to restrict First and Second Amendment rights.”

The Texas law bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. It delegates enforcement to private citizens, who can sue doctors and others and receive a $10,000 bounty plus court costs if successful.

The novel law, which was designed to avoid a federal challenge, has been accused of creating an opportunity for “vigilantes” and “bounty hunters” to target abortion providers.

During oral arguments before the Supreme Court on Monday, conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh cautioned that the Texas law could be copied by any state to block other constitutional rights.

“There’s a loophole that’s been exploited here,” Kavanaugh said. “It could be free speech rights. It could be free exercise of religion rights. It could be Second Amendment rights — if this position is accepted here.”

The Firearms Policy Coalition focuses on the Second Amendment, and recently sued California over its assault weapons ban, but notes it its mission statement that it is “a nonprofit grassroots advocacy organization founded on a philosophy of natural rights” beyond just guns.

“Texas’s novel scheme for infringing upon and chilling the exercise of the right to abortion under this court’s Roe and Casey decisions while seeking to evade judicial review, if allowed to stand, could and would just as easily be applied to other constitutional rights,” the coalition said in its brief.

“That result is wholly anathema to our constitutional scheme, regardless what one thinks of abortion or, indeed, of any other hotly debated constitutional right, such as the right to keep and bear arms,” according to the brief.

The coalition called the law signed in May “the Texas bounty model” under which “all private citizens are now deputized enforcers.”

Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone, defending the law, acknowledged that virtually anyone could sue under the law, noting that personal “outrage” toward abortion would be enough to justify a lawsuit.

The law has deterred Texas abortion providers facing innumerable potentially costly lawsuits, with the number of procedures reportedly cut by half in September.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.