A controversial Texas abortion law that was modeled after a California gun law and was meant to incite a legal dispute has been overturned by a federal judge.
Judge Roger Benitez’s injunction could lead to the U.S. Supreme Court upholding California’s law allowing individuals to sue producers of illegal firearms. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California has called for this outcome, which could result in a test of both laws.
“I want to thank Judge Benitez. We have been saying all along that Texas’ anti-abortion law is outrageous. Judge Benitez just confirmed it is also unconstitutional,” Newsom said in a statement Monday. “The provision in California’s law that he struck down is a replica of what Texas did, and his explanation of why this part of SB 1327 unfairly blocks access to the courts applies equally to Texas’ SB 8.”
In his decision, Benitez emphasized the connections between the two laws, citing Newsom’s criticism of a Texas law that empowers citizens to sue abortionists as proof that the California gun law is unconstitutional.
“‘It is cynical.’ ‘It is an abomination.’ ‘It is outrageous and objectionable.’ ‘There is no dispute that it raises serious constitutional questions,'” Benitez wrote at the start of his ruling, quoting Newsom on the Texas law as evidence that “by implication,” the same is true of California’s law.
The California law “goes even further” than the Texas law that inspired it, according to Benitez’s ruling, but he acknowledged that might not be enough to protect the Texas law from “judicial scrutiny.” By essentially daring the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the California law after it upheld the Texas abortion restrictions, Newsom has hinted at the possible outcome.
“The question is whether they are complete and abject hypocrites and frauds if they reject our bill that’s modeled after that abortion bill as it relates to a private right of action to go after assault weapons,” Newsom said last year.
That tactic might not work. The court, which has a conservative majority, has already demonstrated a broad view of gun rights, including in a case where the strict concealed carry permit regulations of California were overturned.
The decision also intensifies Benitez and Newsom’s acrimonious relationship. Several gun laws have been overturned by the San Diego-based judge while Newsom has been governor, including the state’s long-standing ban on assault weapons and ammunition restrictions that Newsom supported.
Benitez compared AR-15 rifles to Swiss Army Knives when he overturned the assault weapons ban, infuriating Newsom, who blasted the judge as a “wholly-owned subsidiary of the gun lobby and the National Rifle Association.”