Editor’s Note: This footage above is from Jackson’s press conference on Wednesday, August 4.
TYLER, Texas (KETK) – 114th District Judge Austin Jackson has filed a motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit against him over the “heartbeat bill” that Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law earlier this year.
Jackson was named at the top of a lawsuit by abortion groups that seeks to strike down a law that restricts nearly all abortions in Texas after six weeks. The law was authored by State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), who spoke at a press conference on Wednesday in support of Jackson.
The law allows private citizens to file civil suits against abortion providers or doctors who violate the law and makes it nearly impossible for them to retain attorney’s fees. These suits can be brought to any judge that has the authority to hear civil cases in Texas.
In his motion, Jackson tore into the lawsuit arguing that a federal court cannot instruct a state judge how to handle a case that would be brought before it.
“The entire purpose of the… relief Plaintiffs seek is for this Court to effetively tell Judge Jackson how to adjudicate all lawsuits that may be brought in his court under S.B.8… In other words… a thinly-veiled request for this Court to tell Judge Jackson how to be a judge.Motion to Dismiss by Judge Jackson
Jackson argued that he can “only wait for cases to come to [him] and then adjudicate them properly.” He wrote that the federal judge should dismiss the “claims against Judge Jackson without subjecting him to any further burdens of legislation.”
While Judge Jackson is named personally in the lawsuit, it does not say why he was chosen to represent nearly all judges that could have an abortion suit brought before them. It states that Jackson “is an adequate class representative because his court has jurisdiction over civil claims with an amount… greater than $200.”
The lawsuit argues that Jackson, along with all other Texas judges that could have similar claims brought to their court, should not be able to enforce them.
Jackson ripped the lawsuit in a press conference on Wednesday, saying “out-of-county, out-of-state, out-of-touch groups like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have decided that if they can’t silence the legislators down in Austin, maybe they can silence the judges who enforce the law in East Texas.”
Texas Right to Life, the oldest pro-life group in the state, endorsed Jackson two weeks before early voting began last year. He was also endorsed by State Rep. Matt Schaefer, who the Texas Tribune ranked as the most conservative House member during this year’s legislative session.
Smith County Clerk Penny Clarkson has also been sued since it would be her duty to file any lawsuit that an individual would file against an abortion provider.
The lawsuit also names Mark Dickson, a Longview man who is the Director of Right to Life East Texas, as a defendant in the case.
It asks that “Dickson, his agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and any persons in active concert or participation with him, from enforcing S.B. 8 in any way.”
He is one of the driving forces between many small East Texas towns declaring themselves as “sanctuary cities for the unborn” despite nearly all not having abortion providers anywhere near their city limits.
That movement began in June 2019 when Waskom became the first to pass such an ordinance. Dickson said at the time that “we decided to take things into our own hands and that we have got to do something to protect our cities and to protect the unborn children.”
Several other tiny communities passed similar ordinances despite most city attorneys agreeing that they were unconstitutional and would all but certainly be struck down by courts if they were to be sued. Those communities were:
In fact, the ACLU did file a lawsuit against those seven towns but it was dropped during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic.
To read the lawsuit and Jackson’s motion to dismiss, click below.