Washington, D.C. - Following the enactment of Texas Law SB 8, Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02) joined House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and 22 other Committee Democrats in sending a letter calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to use the full force of the Department of Justice to defend a woman's constitutional right to access abortion care. Members also urged the Attorney General to take legal action up to and including the criminal prosecution of would-be vigilantes attempting to use the private right of action established by SB 8. The letter was issued following Attorney General Garland's confirmation that the Department of Justice was exploring “all options” to protect those seeking reproductive health services in Texas.

In their letter, the Members wrote, "As Justice Sotomayor wrote in her dissent to the Court’s ruling, '[i]t cannot be the case that a State can evade federal judicial scrutiny by outsourcing the enforcement of unconstitutional laws to its citizenry.'   Similarly, the Department of Justice cannot permit private individuals seeking to deprive women of the constitutional right to choose an abortion to escape scrutiny under existing federal law simply because they attempt to do so under the color of state law.  Indeed, the Department is fully empowered to prosecute any individual who attempts, 'under color of any law,' to deprive a United States citizen of 'any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution.'   

In addition to Congresswoman Ross and Chairman Nadler, the letter was signed by Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Karen Bass (D-CA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Val Demings (D-FL), Lou Correa (D-CA), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Sylvia R. Garcia (D-TX), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), and Mondaire Jones (D-NY).

Congresswoman Ross denounced the Texas law as an egregious, unconstitutional attack on reproductive freedom when it went into effect.

Full text of the letter can be found here.