Azar v. Garza

Doe, a minor was eight weeks pregnant when she unlawfully crossed the border into the U.S. She was detained by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), in a federally-funded Texas shelter. Doe requested an abortion. Absent “emergency medical situations,” ORR policy prohibits shelter personnel from “taking any action that facilitates an abortion without direction and approval from the Director.” A minor may leave government custody by seeking voluntary departure, or by working with the government to identify a suitable sponsor” in the U.S., 8 U.S.C. 1229c. Garza, Doe’s guardian ad litem, filed a putative class action on behalf of Doe and “all other pregnant unaccompanied minors in ORR custody.” The district court ruled in Doe’s favor, Doe attended preabortion counseling, required by Texas law to occur at least 24 hours in advance with the same doctor who performs the abortion. The clinic she visited typically rotated physicians weekly. The next day, the District of Columbia Circuit vacated portions of the order. Four days later, that court, en banc, vacated the panel order and remanded. Garza obtained an amended order, requiring the government to make Doe available to obtain the counseling and abortion. Believing the abortion would not take place until after Doe repeated the counseling with a new doctor, the government informed opposing counsel and the Supreme Court that it would file a stay application on October 25. The doctor who had performed Doe’s earlier counseling became available at 4:15 a.m. At 10 a.m., Garza’s lawyers informed the government that Doe “had the abortion this morning.” The Supreme Court vacated and remanded for dismissal. Doe’s individual claim for injunctive relief—the only claim addressed by the D. C. Circuit—became moot after the abortion but the unique circumstances and the balance of equities weigh in favor of vacatur. The Court considered but did not decide the government’s allegations that opposing counsel made misrepresentations to thwart review. View "Azar v. Garza" on Justia Law