The Department of Justice avoided the question by a federal judge on whether abortion is still protected by the 13th Amendment of the U.S Constitution.
Last month, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly asked the parties in an ongoing criminal case to provide a briefing on if following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the entire Constitution was considered or whether only the 14th Amendment was rejected. The request came after anti-abortion activist Lauren Handy, who has been charged with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act after she blocked access to an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C., claimed that her charges should be dropped as they were filed on the basis that as abortion is a federally protected right.
On Friday, the Department of Justice argued that the FACE Act is still enforceable under Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce. Prosecutors also argued that the judge is therefore able to deny Handy’s motion without determining whether abortion is still protected under the 13th Amendment.
In their argument, the Department of Justice wrote that the Court does not need to determine anything in relation to abortion and the 13th Amendment, so long as they accept that Congress still has the right to enforce “the Commerce Clause to enact the FACE Act.”
Handy and nine others were charged with blocking access to a clinic and a conspiracy against rights. However, following the Dobbs decision Handy attempted to have the charges dismissed by a judge.