SLS students circulate open letter urging against overruling Roe v. Wade

June 3, 2022, 12:50 a.m.

Stanford Law School (SLS) students, along with students from peer institutions, wrote an open letter condemning the decision intending to overturn Roe v. Wade in the leaked Supreme Court draft of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The letter has amassed over 200 signatures from law students, student organizations, professors and attorneys. 

The Supreme Court is expected to release their final decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in mid-to-late June. A leaked draft opinion indicates the Court’s decision will overturn the landmark case Roe v. Wade, which protects individuals from state bans on abortions. While it is possible for any of the justices in the majority to change their decision, none have changed their minds so far, according to Politico.

“We thought about sending it to the court directly,” Tessa Silverman, a first-year law student at SLS and incoming ACS President for the SLS Chapter said. “But at the end of the day, we’re realistic about the fact that this kind of letter is probably not going to change Clarence Thomas’ mind, even if he receives it directly.” 

Instead, Silverman hopes the message of the letter defending reproductive rights will be there “when people are looking back on this as a particularly dark moment in the Supreme Court’s trajectory.”

The letter was constructed by various American Constitution Society (ACS) collegiate chapters. In addition to SLS, ACS chapters at University of Hawaii Law School, North Carolina Central University Law School, and Georgetown Law School helped in the creation of this letter. 

ACS advocates for interpreting the Constitution “based on its text and against the backdrop of history and lived experience,” according to its website. The letter addressing the leaked draft is not an official statement of the formal ACS organization.

Blake Phillips of Georgetown Law School believes that “this [letter] is just supposed to be the start of a broader conversation.” He shared that the coalition is looking to engage with others. “The most important one is to just listen to the reproductive justice folks that have been doing this work on the ground for decades,” Phillips said. 

For Phillips, the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned, is “not just morally wrong, that it’s not just societally wrong, that it’s not just what most Americans disagree with, but that it’s legally that there are really, really dangerous things that this Dobbs’ opinion says.” According to him, the decision would go against long-held conventional legal wisdom and would put the grounds used to uphold numerous other cases in question. 

Danielle Bell, a third-year law student at the University of Hawaii explained that state-level activism will be imperative for reproductive rights in case Roe is overturned, explaining “voters can help shape access to abortion by carefully considering their elected judges.” 

Broader implications of the case, also spurred Bell’s involvement with the coalition. When she heard about Justice Alito’s draft opinion, it felt as “one more step away from democracy.”

Carolyn Stein serves as the Magazine Editor for Vol. 263. She is double majoring in communications and East Asian studies. Her favorite activity is going on unnecessarily long walks. Contact her at news 'at' Dao is an undergraduate from Los Angeles. She is majoring in Science, Technology, and Society with a minor in Psychology and does research on media. In addition to writing, she enjoys discussing fashion and having picnics on campus.

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