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A United States appeals court has set a Jan. 7 argument date in the Texas abortion case, and the panel will hear the state’s bid to push a legal question about enforcement to the state supreme court.

The challengers of Texas’s near total ban on abortion contend the move will delay a merits ruling in the U.S. District Court.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court left in place a ban on most abortions in Texas but allowed a legal challenge to proceed, with the fate of the Republican-backed measure that allows private citizens to enforce it still hanging in the balance.

“The court has decided that oral argument is appropriate before ruling on the state’s motion to certify or alternate motion to set a briefing schedule, and the response thereto. Consequently, the argument will be held at 9 a.m. in New Orleans on Friday, January 7, 2022″, a filing in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court said on Monday.

Circuit Judge Stephen Higginson wrote in dissent, saying the court’s move to hear argument “adds impermissible delay to the vindication of the constitutional rights of Texas women in federal court. I would deny the defendants’ motions and remand this case to the district court as soon as possible, so that what remains of the plaintiffs’ lawsuit can proceed.”

The Texas law bans abortions at around six weeks, a point when many women do not yet realize they are pregnant, with no exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

The law enables private citizens to sue anyone who performs or assists a woman in getting an abortion after embryo cardiac activity is detected. Individual citizens can be awarded a minimum of US$10,000 for successful lawsuits. The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has called this a “bounty.”

The measure is one of a series of restrictive Republican-backed abortion laws pursued in states in recent years.

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This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.