Bounty hunters. Figures from folk tales, fantasy and reality TV; free agents that work as an extension of the law. Whatever comes to mind, this latest chapter in vigilante justice is shaking things up even more at a polarized time in the country.
The enaction of Texas's Senate Bill 8 allows private citizens to file civil lawsuits against anyone who provides or helps someone attain an abortion, with a possible award of at least $10,000 per lawsuit. Since then, California has passed a law modeled on Texas, allowing private citizens to sue gun law violators.
How likely are they to catch on in the future?
These sorts of citizen enforcement laws aren't totally new, but the way SB 8 has played out is a lot different than a hired hand chasing after a bank robber who skipped town on bail.
What does it mean to put this kind of power into the hands of ordinary people who end up selecting themselves to take up the cause of policing or surveilling others' decisions?
We talked to experts in our penultimate episode to explore the implications of SB 8 and what it could mean for other constitutionally protected rights. And, to really understand what can happen with these laws, we go back in time to some of the darkest chapters in U.S. history: the enforcement of slavery and Jim Crow laws.
- David Noll, law professor at Rutgers Law School
- John Seago, president of Texas Right to Life
- Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the ACLU and director of its Ruth Bader Ginsburg Center for Liberty
Sidebar tackles the top stories you need to know from the legal world. Join reporters Hillel Aron, Kirk McDaniel, Amanda Pampuro and Nina Pullano as they take you in and out of courtrooms in the U.S. and beyond and break down developments to help you understand how they affect your day-to-day life.
Editorial staff is Bill Dotinga, Sean Duffy and Jamie Ross.
For more from us on the Texas and California laws:
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