The Docket

Editor’s Note: The Dobbs Special Issue

On May 2, 2022, the Washington, D.C.-based political news site Politico dropped a bombshell: a leaked draft of an opinion in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, purportedly written by United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito, that overturned Roe v. Wade and would consequently end a woman's right to choose to...

Dr. Lauren MacIvor Thompson: Roe v Wade and Feminism: The Limits of Public Memory

For those of us who study the history of reproduction, the leak in early May of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was disturbing but not necessarily surprising.[1] Written by Justice Alito, the language referring to the “domestic supply of babies” and his use of 13th century English case law looked eerily like some of...

“Abortion Was a Crime”? Three Medievalists respond to “English cases dating all the way back to the 13th century corroborate the treatises’ statements that abortion was a crime.”

Appealing to an ancient legal tradition to bolster one's argument is a very medieval way of thinking about the law. Medieval jurists likewise scoured ancient legal texts seeking authority and insight. And like Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in Dobbs, they sometimes read their ancient sources selectively and shorn of context.[1] Unlike Alito’s draft opinion, though, they...

Felicity Turner: A View of Dobbs from the 19th Century

In November 1818, Sarah Jeffreys of Caswell County, North Carolina, expelled something from her uterus. In a confession wrung from her after repeated denials, she testified that she “had lost something but she did not know what it was.”[1] She claimed she was alone when it happened, but that her mother, Fanny, and her friend, Betsy,...

Alison Lefkovitz: The Population Politics of Dobbs

Cover of brochure The Population Bomb (Hugh Moore Fund, 1954). Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons. Americans often think of Griswold v. Connecticut, which established the ability to use birth control via a right to privacy in 1965, as a gender equality case. But the Supreme Court granted the right to birth control before it established equal...

Dr. Deborah Dinner: Originalism and the Misogynist Distortion of History in Dobbs

The leaked opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health repeatedly observes that by the time of the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification, the majority of states had enacted statutes criminalizing abortion at all stages of fetal development.[1] Justice Samuel Alito treats this fact as if it – almost, singlehandedly – ends the conversation about whether the Fourteenth Amendment protects pregnant...