What Is the Matter with Dobbs?

54 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2022 Last revised: 7 Dec 2022

See all articles by Andrew Coan

Andrew Coan

University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law

Date Written: December 5, 2022


Contrary to its critics, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is not illegitimate or lawless. It is a highly consequential but fundamentally ordinary example of the inextricable connections between morality and constitutional law. If abortion is akin to murder, Dobbs could not—and should not—have come out any other way. If abortion is essential to personal autonomy and equal citizenship, the case was wrongly decided and should be reversed at the earliest opportunity.

The appropriate response to decisions like Dobbs is to criticize the moral judgments underlying them. Depending on the circumstances, institutional responses, such as court packing and jurisdiction stripping, might also be justified. But conflating moral disagreement with lawlessness is both unpersuasive and a distraction from the core issue. It is also a form of crying wolf that risks backfiring when the charge of lawlessness is actually justified.

Keywords: Abortion, Dobbs, Roe, Court Packing, Constitutional Law, Rule of Law

Suggested Citation

Coan, Andrew, What Is the Matter with Dobbs? (December 5, 2022). Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 22-24, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4294242 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4294242

Andrew Coan (Contact Author)

University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States

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