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In 1971 Norma McCorvey, a single, pregnant woman in the state of Texas, wanted to get an abortion. The state laws of Texas at that time made it illegal to have an abortion in Texas, and although the state told her that she could go to one of the four states in which abortion was legal, she decided that she could not afford to travel to another state and have the procedure done. So Norma McCorvey decided to sue the state of Texas claiming that her constitutional rights were being taken away from her. The state court ruled in favor of McCorvey but it was not a strong enough verdict to change the arrests of abortion doctors in Texas because the exact part of the Constitution that dealt indirectly with the right to privacy could not be pinpointed, and so Norma McCorvey and her lawyer, Sarah Weddington, decided to take it to the Supreme Court. From then on Norma McCorvey would be known by the generic name Jane Roe to protect the very right of privacy which she was fighting for.
The first hearing of the Supreme Court case Roe v. Henry Wade, District Attorney of Dallas County, took place on December 13, 1971. Sarah Weddington had a strong case for privacy, but once again, the direct part of the Constitution that dealt with her case could not be decided upon. The council for Wade was Jay Floyd who opened badly, and never really impressed the justices. He opened his arguments with jokes and did not have any real basis for why the Texas laws should be upheld. The judges were later said to be too harsh on Floyd who was just trying to lighten the atmosphere. In fact, neither lawyer had a real idea of where constitutionally they were going to base their argument. The Supreme Court finally decided in favor or Jane Roe and Chief Justice Blackmun was decided upon as the speaker for the case. There were many problems with the decision in the first hearing. First, many people were upset with the choice of Justice Blackmun as the speaker. The appointment of Blackmun to the Supreme Court was regarded by the general public as a bad decision. He was said to be cloned after the current Chief Justice and was also only the third choice for appointment by the controversial President Richard Nixon. Also, the courts were very unsure of where they made their decision from, and were getting harsh criticism from the media and lower courts saying that they made their decision based upon pro-choice beliefs rather than of the basis of abortion rights in the constitution. Added to those doubts was the induction of two more Supreme Court judges, William H. Rehnquist and Lewis F. Powell Jr. Taking into consideration that the court did not want to be held as unfair or unjust by anyone, the Supreme Court decided to hear the case again, which was only done a handful of times per year (Carelli 1999).
The second hearing took place on October 11, 1972. Sarah Weddington still counseled Roe but there was a new appellant-Robert C. Flowers. Sarah Weddington had at this time more efficiently concluded where she wished to draw her constitutional point from. The case while in the state of Texas helped Weddington out in their decision by the fact that they based their ruling in the ninth and fourteenth amendments. The only reason that it had to go to federal court was that it would not hold up against the arrest of abortion doctors in the state of Texas, so it was necessary to take to the Supreme Court. Weddington planned to use this tactic to follow through on the case from the first hearing and made sure that she would leave no room for surprise questions from the judges, knowing full well that they would be stricter on their decision this time around. But her opponent, Flowers, had also done more research and been more prepared than Jay Floyd had been in the first hearing. The justices were more questioning on both sides this time to make sure that they were covering all their bases and could form a decision based on fact which would show the public and lower courts that their decision was not made upon a pro-choice personal belief. Like the first time the court heard the case, they decided seven to two on the side of Jane Roe. Justice Blackmun was again chosen as the speaker for the court and he decided to base the decision on the right of privacy which was implied in the first and fourteenth amendments. They had based their decision on a previous case that had been decided concerning the right to privacy. That case was Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965.
In the Griswold v. Connecticut case Dr. Griswold was suing the s
Quotes talked about in this paper
- Supreme Court believed that abortions would be mainly used for medical and health purposes, but in reality only seven percent of all abortion are so called "hard cases" ...
Terminology mentioned in this research paper
Constitution, state law, abortion,
Sports mentioned in this paper
Names included in this report
Roe, Norma McCorvey, Sarah Weddington, a turning point, Chief Justice Blackmun, Jay Floyd, a new appellant-Robert C. Flowers, Dr. Griswold, Torres, Henshaw,
Organizations referenced in this paper
Supreme Court, Wade Supreme Court, American government, Government,
Locations included in this research paper
United States, Texas, New York, Connecticut,
Keywords mentioned in this research paper
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