Nevertheless She Persisted: Comparing Roe v. Wade's Two Oral Arguments

46 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2019

Date Written: 2018


There is a longstanding and popular sentiment in the legal profession that oral arguments do not really matter; rather, everything rides on the written briefs. This Article takes that old adage head on, and does so through analysis of one of the most controversial cases ever decided by the United States Supreme Court: Roe v. Wade. It is a little-known fact that Roe was argued before the Court not once, but twice, which presents a unique opportunity to consider the place and power of oral arguments in Supreme Court jurisprudence.

This Article offers a comprehensive analysis and critique of the two oral arguments in Roe. The Article first analyzes the oral arguments pragmatically, undertaking a scholarly investigation of the arguments to investigate their impact on the majority opinion. Next, the Article proceeds theoretically, engaging in a feminist legal theory analysis to assess how the Roe arguments were both a product of their time and shaped feminist legal theory going forward.

Keywords: Roe v. Wade, oral arguments, feminist legal theory, Supreme Court

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Christopher, Catherine Martin, Nevertheless She Persisted: Comparing Roe v. Wade's Two Oral Arguments (2018). 49 Seton Hall L. Rev. 307 (2018)., Available at SSRN:

Catherine Martin Christopher (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University School of Law ( email )

1802 Hartford
Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

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