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Roe v. Wade

(1973)

Supreme Court of the United States - 410 U.S. 113

tl;dr:

Right of privacy encompasses women’s right to an abortion.

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Facts & HoldingRoe v. Wade case brief facts & holding

Facts:A Texas law made it a crime to “procure an...

Holding:Constitution does not mention an explicit right to privacy, but...

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Roe v. Wade | Case Brief DeepDive
Majority opinion, author: Mr. Justice Blackmun
Level 1
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The Supreme Court declared Texas and Georgia's criminal abortion laws unconstitutional due to vagueness and overbreadth, violating the plaintiffs' Ninth Amendment rights. Dr. Hallford lacked standing to seek relief for violating Texas Abortion Laws. The District Court's dismissal of a married couple's complaint was proper as their alleged injury was speculative. The appellant argues that the Texas statutes violate a pregnant woman's right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, which is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Bill of Rights, or the Ninth Amendment. The history of abortion shows that restrictive criminal abortion laws are recent and not of ancient or common-law origin. The Constitution recognizes a woman's right to choose whether or not to terminate her pregnancy, but this right is not absolute. The state has a valid interest in regulating the abortion decision to safeguard health, maintain medical standards, and protect potential life. The woman's right to privacy must be weighed against important state interests in regulation.

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Opinion (Concurrence), author: Mr. Justice Stewart
Level 1
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The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects a broad definition of "liberty" that extends beyond the specific rights listed in the Bill of Rights, including personal choices related to marriage and family life. This protection of liberty requires careful scrutiny of state interests that may justify its abridgment. The right to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is grounded in previous Supreme Court decisions and is considered a fundamental right protected by the Constitution. The Griswold v. Connecticut decision is accepted as a precedent consistent with pre-Skrupa cases that relied on substantive due process.

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Dissenting opinion, author: Mr. Justice Rehnquist
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Justice Rehnquist dissents from the Court's opinion that invalidates the Texas statute, as there is no indication of a plaintiff in her first trimester of pregnancy during the lawsuit. The author disagrees with the Court's conclusion that the right of "privacy" is involved in the case, as the transaction resulting in a medical abortion is not "private" in the ordinary usage of the word. The author agrees that the Fourteenth Amendment protects a person's claim to be free from unwanted state regulation of consensual transactions as a form of "liberty," but this liberty is not guaranteed absolutely against deprivation. The traditional test applied in the area of social and economic legislation is whether or not a law has a rational relation to a valid state objective. The author argues that the Court's invalidation of any restrictions on abortion during the first trimester is impossible to justify under that standard. The author also criticizes the Court's decision to break pregnancy into three distinct terms and outline permissible restrictions, which the author believes is more like judicial legislation than a determination of the intent of the Fourteenth Amendment's drafters.

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