Whole Woman's Health v. Jackson, No. 21-50792 (5th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed suit principally seeking an injunction against the Texas court system to prevent any Texas court from entertaining suits under Senate Bill 8, which authorizes private civil actions against persons who abort an unborn child with a detectable fetal heartbeat. The motions at issue arise out of defendants' appeal of the district court's denial of their motions to dismiss the case on jurisdictional grounds.
The Fifth Circuit previously denied plaintiffs' emergency motion for injunction pending appeal, which was premised on plaintiffs' argument that the district court's Eleventh Amendment immunity ruling was correct, and now explained the grounds for its actions. The court concluded that SB 8 emphatically precludes enforcement by any state, local, or agency officials, and thus defendant officials lack any "enforcement connection" to SB 8 and are not amenable to suit under Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908).
In regard to Mark Lee Dickson's appeal, the court concluded that jurisdictional issues presented in the proceedings against Dickson are related to the issues presented in the state officials' collateral-order appeal. Therefore, the notice of appeal divested the district court of jurisdiction over Dickson as well as the officials. Accordingly, the court denied plaintiffs' motion to dismiss Dickson's appeal; granted Dickson's motion to stay the district court proceedings pending appeal; and expedited the appeal to the next available oral argument panel.