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Roe v. Wade


  • Originally published 04/01/2013

    Michael J. Gerhardt: How Jimmy Carter Imperiled Roe v. Wade

    Michael J. Gerhardt is Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor in Constitutional Law & Director, Center for Law and Government at the University of North Carolina Law School.Jimmy Carter had significant impact on judicial selection in several ways. The first involved the Supreme Court. The fact that he had no Supreme Court appointments made it easier for President Reagan to build directly upon the four appointments made by President Nixon to thwart Warren Court decisions expanding minority and criminal defendants’ rights at the expense of state sovereignty.An obvious target for Reagan was the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. Initially, there was no Republican backlash to the opinion. Indeed, the initial, public response to Roe was largely silence. When, for instance, the Senate held confirmation hearings on President Ford’s nomina­tion of John Paul Stevens to replace the retiring William O. Douglas, not a single senator asked Stevens about  Roe. Yet, by the time Reagan was campaigning for the presidency, the Republican platform had called for overruling Roe; and as president, Reagan made Roe a principal example of the Court’s liberalism and pledged to appoint justices who would overturn Roe, among other cases. The question is what had happened in the meantime.

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Shadow of Roe v. Wade looms over ruling on gay marriage

    WASHINGTON — When the Supreme Court hears a pair of cases on same-sex marriage on Tuesday and Wednesday, the justices will be working in the shadow of a 40-year-old decision on another subject entirely: Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion.Judges, lawyers and scholars have drawn varying lessons from that decision, with some saying that it was needlessly rash and created a culture war.Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal and a champion of women’s rights, has long harbored doubts about the ruling.“It’s not that the judgment was wrong, but it moved too far, too fast,” she said last year at Columbia Law School....

  • Originally published 01/23/2013

    Ruth Rosen: Roe v. Wade and Beyond

    Ruth Rosen, a former columnist for the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, is Professor Emerita of History at UC-Davis and a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Right-Wing Movements at UC-Berkeley. Her most recent book is The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America.On the day that Roe v. Wade was handed down, I felt a mixture of elation and panic. A new future loomed in which unwanted pregnancies would no longer send women to quacks, rushing them to hospitals with raging infections and perhaps to their deaths. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that many lives would be saved.At the same time, I knew that this historic decision had started the culture wars, even though I didn’t have the language to explain my thoughts. As a young historian, I realized that the Supreme Court had given us abortion rights and what the Court gave, the Court could take away. Even more, I understood that we had not received this right through congressional legislation, which would have reflected a greater consensus among Americans. But I also knew that there had not been enough national conversation for legislation that would have legalized abortion, so a Court decision was the only way, at that time, that we could have gained reproductive rights.

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Five Myths about Roe v. Wade

    Supreme Court Building. Credit: Wiki Commons.Originally posted on the UNC Press Blog.On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Roe v. Wade, the abortion rights case that culminated in one of the most controversial legal rulings in the country’s history. Forty years later, numerous myths continue to circulate about the contents and meanings of Roe. Here are five of the most significant:Myth #1: Roe endorsed abortion on demand.

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