Monday, January 13, 2003


Roe v. Wade Thirtieth Anniversary Conference

I’m putting together a conference to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which will be held on January 31st, 2003, from 10:30am to 5:30pm at Yale Law School. Yale Law Women, a student organization, will be co-sponsoring. The actual 30th anniversary takes place on January 22d, but that’s right in the middle of exam period here at Yale Law School, so I moved it forward to the first week of classes.

I’ve gathered together nine prominent constitutional scholars and asked them to rewrite the opinion in Roe v. Wade (and the companion case of Doe v. Bolton, which struck down Georgia’s abortion law), using only materials available as of January 22d, 1973. The opinions will be read at a mock Supreme Court starting at 1:30pm at the conference. I’ll play the role of Chief Justice, although I won’t be wearing gold stripes like Rehnquist does.

The all-start cast includes my colleagues Akhil Amar, Jed Rubenfeld and Reva Siegel from Yale, Mark Tushnet and Robin West from Georgetown, Anita Allen-Castellitto from Penn, Jeffrey Rosen from G.W. (and The New Republic), and Michael Stokes Paulsen from Minnesota. I’ll be gathering the opinions together and publishing them as a book entitled, appropriately enough, “What Roe v. Wade Should Have Said.” Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago will also be contributing an opinion to the collection, although he won’t be able to attend the conference. I’ll also be writing a long (around 70 page) introduction to the book, describing the political and legal history of Roe and analyzing the opinions.

I’ve done something like this before with the Supreme Court’s 1954 opinion in Brown v. Board of Education. The results were published as “What Brown v. Board of Education Should Have Said: The Nation’s Top Legal Experts Rewrite America’s Landmark Civil Rights Opinion,” which was published by N.Y.U. Press in 2001. There's also a companion website,, which has a chronology of civil rights history.

Over the course of the next few weeks I hope to post a few thoughts about Roe from the standpoint of thirty years later.


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