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With Roe overturned, updated ABA Legal Fact Check explores doctrine of legal precedent

“With the decision today by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the landmark abortion decision of Roe v. Wade, the posted ABA Legal Fact Check has been revised to reflect the developments to assist reporters and the public to better understand the legal principle of stare decisis, or legal precedent, and how it came to be. The majority decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization reverses the Roe decision of 1973 that struck down state laws banning abortion as well as a decision two decades later. The fact check describes how stare decisis has become ingrained in the U.S. judicial system and stands out as a bedrock of the rule of law, even though it was not created by statute or found in the U.S. Constitution. The fact check also notes that overturning precedent is neither commonplace nor rare. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s first reversal of its own decision in 1851, the justices have overturned prior high court rulings more than 140 times. Modern constitutional law as we have known it ended today. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood, it repudiated the very idea that America’s highest court exists to protect people’s fundamental liberties from legislative majorities that would infringe on them. What the dissent aptly called a “catastrophic” decision is not only a catastrophe for women, who now can be forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. It is a catastrophe for all Americans — and for people all over the world who have built their own modern constitutional courts on the US model. The tyranny of the majority won the day…”

See also NPR:  “Majorities of Americans say they disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, think it was politically motivated, are concerned the court will now reconsider rulings that protect other rights, and are more likely to vote for a candidate this fall who would restore the right to an abortion, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.”

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