Still no decision in high profile case that could impact Georgia’s abortion law

New lawsuit challenging Georgia abortion ban
New lawsuit challenging Georgia abortion ban
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 6:51 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - A judge has yet to rule on a case that could put Georgia’s abortion law on hold. Currently, the law bans the procedure about six weeks into pregnancy.

At issue is whether Georgia officials should be prohibited from enforcing the state’s restrictive abortion law while a legal challenge against it is pending. Georgia’s so-called heartbeat bill was signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019, but it had been blocked from taking effect. Then, last month, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe. V. Wade, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the state to begin enforcing it.

Fast forward to this week, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney heard arguments from attorneys for the state and doctors and advocacy groups who filed lawsuits challenging the law.

Assistant Professor of Law at Georgia State University Anthony Kreis said much of the hearing focused on what power the judge has to temporarily block the law while litigation plays out to see if the law is valid in the first place.

“All these questions about sovereign immunity and what kind of remedies the judge can give temporarily while litigation is ongoing are all new and unresolved because we have a whole new legal regime in Georgia that we didn’t have just a few years ago because of the sovereign immunity amendment,” said Kreis.

A new legal sticking point is playing out in this case. In 2020, Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing people to seek relief from laws that violate the state and U.S. constitution. But questions remain as to what kind of relief judges are allowed to grant. State attorneys told Judge McBurney that anti-abortion law advocates must sue those who are directly enforcing the law, not the state.

Kreis said Judge McBurney could make a ruling on the case within hours or days.