Texas Republicans eye heartbeat bill reboot amid SCOTUS transition

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Less than one day after the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the author of Texas’ failed heartbeat bill indicated he would revisit the legislation with a potentially more-favorable high court makeup on the way.

State Rep. Briscoe Cain, a Deer Park Republican, shared on Twitter Saturday that “it’s a great time” for the Texas Legislature to pass the controversial heartbeat bill, which would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Cain’s bill failed in committee in 2019 and didn’t receive broad support from anti-abortion groups who feared it would be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

State Rep. Drew Springer, who is now running in a special election for Senate District 30, co-sponsored Cain’s bill and said he would again.

“I think the time is probably the best in Texas history,” Springer said in an interview with KXAN.

President Donald Trump is expected to announce a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court later this week. With his announcement comes a renewed interest by some conservatives to tackle longstanding abortion rights.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who is on the president’s list of potential nominees, tweeted on Sept. 9: “It’s time for Roe v. Wade to go.”

In Texas, Republicans see a changing U.S. Supreme Court and a strengthening conservative majority as an opportunity to again push anti-abortion legislation, according to Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston.

“Republicans see the perfect alignment,” Rottinghaus said. “They’ve got majorities, for now at least in both chambers. They’ve got the governor’s mansion, lieutenant governor’s position, and they’ve got a favorable situation in terms of the federal courts and state courts.”

The vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court and President Trump’s intent to fill the vacancy before Nov. 3 injects a new voting issue into the 2020 election cycle—Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both Republicans, have said they will vote on the nominee. But the debate could have down-ballot implications, too.

The Texas Democratic Party is fighting to flip nine seats and assume a majority in the Texas House. A majority in the Texas House would allow Democrats to prevent a heartbeat bill from ever getting off the ground.

“We know that two out of three landmark abortion cases came out of Texas, so this is ground zero for anti-abortion legislation,” said Delma Limones, communications manager for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas.

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