In a move that defies the polarization of the “culture wars,” The nonprofit gun rights group Firearms Policy Coalition is siding with abortion providers in the Texas dispute over the nation’s strictest abortion ban. The gun advocates say they worry the law could be used to limit other constitutional rights, in particular the Second Amendment, reports Bloomberg News. Take almost any individual constitutional right and it “could easily fall into a similar scheme by any state that disfavors that right,” said Brigitte Amiri of the ACLU, which represents the Texas abortion providers. That includes everything from rules restricting guns, requiring face masks, or prohibiting criticism of public officials.
Amiri said the Texas case is about whether a state can “pass an unconstitutional law and do so in a way that would evade court review.” The state argues that judicial review is still available under the law—just not in the way the abortion providers would like. Most notably the law allows private citizens to enforce the ban by initiating lawsuits against anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion. Moreover, the law includes draconian statutory penalties, cost-shifting measures favoring anti-abortion activists, and broad rules that allow abortion providers to be sued anywhere in Texas. “To the extent this tactic is effective at evading or outright blocking preenforcement review, while allowing the significant and largely decisive deterrent to persist unless and until a direct application of the law is reviewed by this Court, it will easily become the model for suppression of other constitutional rights, with Second Amendment rights being the most likely targets of such suppression,” wrote Erik Jaffe, a former aide to Justice Clarence Thomas who filed the friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the gun rights group and is also part of the team helping to defend Indiana’s abortion restrictions.