The Atlantic Daily: How Texas Citizens Won the Right to Be Anti-Abortion Vigilantes

The new Texas abortion law thrives on technicalities.

A controversial and strange new Texas law empowers private citizens to sue (and collect $10,000 for successfully suing) anyone who performs, aids, or abets an abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. The fight over that law got more convoluted last night.

At first, the Supreme Court didn’t respond to an emergency petition to strike down the legislation, allowing it to come into effect early yesterday morning. Then, in the middle of the night, the Court released a one-paragraph, 5–4 decision denying the application.

The law seems to find strength in technicality. Technically, Texas did not just ban abortion—but in practice, its new law does just that. Technically, the Supreme Court did not nullify Roe v. Wade—but in practice, it did just that. Here’s how to make sense of it.

A firefighter walks past a black car parked on the side of a road. A fire truck is parked next to the car and another car is visible further away.
(Ed Jones / AFP / Getty)

The news in three sentences:

(1) The remnants of Hurricane Ida killed at least 40 people and caused intense flooding in the Northeast. (2) President Joe Biden declared an emergency in California, where firefighters continue to battle the Caldor Fire. (3) China maintains its lead in the medal count at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, which end this weekend.

Tonight’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Are you satisfied with your job? Our happiness columnist, Arthur C. Brooks, offers advice for choosing a fulfilling career path.

A break from the news:

Did we really need a girlboss Cinderella?