September 30, 2014

In January 2013, Linda Greenhouse published a comment in the New York Times marking the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. In the course of the comment, Greenhouse made the point that almost no one ever reads the Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. I think there is a lot of truth to that observation. Roe has become a symbol—it was a great victory for women’s rights, it was an important part of a cultural transformation, it is perhaps the leading example of judicial excess, it is a manifestation of the culture of death. But I think it is true that people do not read the actual decision very often anymore.

After reading Greenhouse’s comment, I did re-read Roe v. Wade carefully. That re-reading of Roe v. Wade was a valuable experience. Scholars, and not just pro-life scholars, know that the opinion is deeply flawed. Re-reading the opinion, from a perspective of forty years, makes that even more apparent. Yet, I came away from that re-reading with a renewed confidence that the Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade will ultimately be overturned. In this Article, I will explain my reaction to this re-reading of Roe v. Wade.