Symposium: The Future of Reproductive Rights: Perilous Private Enforcement Strategies: From Posses and Citizen's Arrest to Texas Heartbeat Statutes
The utility of state private enforcement statutes restricting abortion in Texas and other states is worthy of close scrutiny. Placing private enforcement in historical context aids in understanding when it may be a sustainable strategy. First, the strategy of involving the populace in the enforcement of legislative mandates has a long history in the United States. Self-help is a necessity where law enforcement is not equipped to prevent and respond to every call for assistance. Citizen’s arrest, posse comitatus, and mandatory reporting of misconduct by citizens, including professional misconduct, all involve private action for the common good in state and local jurisdictions. What they also share is an undercurrent of restraint, where both the public and the government understand that private enforcement only has social utility under narrow circumstances.
Jennifer A. Brobst, Perilous Private Enforcement Strategies: From Posses and Citizen's Arrest to Texas Heartbeat Statutes, 14 ConLawNOW 11 (2022).