Appellant (Plaintiff): Jane Roe (Norma McCorvey) Appellee (Defendant): County District Attorney Henry Wade



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Roe v. Wade

1975
Appellant (Plaintiff): Jane Roe  (Norma McCorvey)
Appellee (Defendant): County District Attorney Henry Wade
Facts of the case:

  • Roe, a pregnant single woman, brought a class action suit challenging the constitutionality of the Texas abortion laws. These laws made it a crime to obtain or attempt an abortion except on medical advice to save the life of the mother.

  • Other plaintiffs in class action suit were Hallford, a doctor who faced criminal prosecution for violating the state abortion laws and the Does, a married couple with no children, who sought an injunction against enforcement of the laws on the grounds that they were unconstitutional.

  • The defendant was county District Attorney Wade (D).

  • A three-judge District Court panel tried the cases together and held that Roe and Hallford had standing to sue and presented justiciable controversies, and that declaratory relief was warranted. The court also ruled however that injunctive relief was not warranted and that the Does’ complaint was not justiciable.

  • Roe and Hallford won their lawsuits at trial. The district court held that the Texas abortion statutes were void as vague and for over broadly infringing the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the plaintiffs. The Does lost, however, because the district court ruled that injunctive relief against enforcement of the laws was not warranted.

  • The Does appealed directly to the Supreme Court of the United States and Wade cross-appealed the district court’s judgment in favor of Roe and Hallford.

Decision of the Lower Court:

  • A three-judge District Court, which consolidated the actions, held that Roe and Hallford, and members of their classes, had standing to sue and presented justiciable controversies. Ruling that declaratory, though not injunctive, relief was warranted, the court declared the abortion statutes void as vague and overbroadly infringing those plaintiffs' Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The court ruled the Does' complaint not justiciable.

  • Roe and Hallford won their lawsuits at trial. The district court held that the Texas abortion statutes were void as vague and for over broadly infringing the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the plaintiffs. The Does lost, however, because the district court ruled that injunctive relief against enforcement of the laws was not warranted.

Legal Aspects of the Case:

Decision of the Supreme Court:



  • The Court issued its decision on January 22, 1973, with a 7-to-2 majority vote in favor of Roe.

  • The Court deemed abortion a fundamental right under the United States Constitution, thereby subjecting all laws attempting to restrict it to the standard of strict scrutiny.

      • What is the Constitutional basis for the court’s decision?

        • The Due Process Clause protects the right to privacy, including a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy, against state action.

        • Infringement on the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the plaintiffs.

Is this a loose or strict interpretation of the Constitution?

        • Loose interpretation

The Rule of Precedent:

  • A woman has the right to abort her baby prior to the end of the first two trimesters because of the third, fourth ninth, and fourteenth amendments.



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