Conference Examines Impact of Lawrence v. Texas and Roe v. Wade
LOS ANGELES—As the Supreme Court again takes up questions of sexual liberty and equality in the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases, scholars met to examine how the Court’s prior seminal rulings in Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas impacted future legislative action, litigation and political mobilizations around abortion and LGBT policy. The conference, entitled Liberty/Equality: The View from Roe’s 40th and Lawrence’s 10th Anniversaries, was co-hosted by the American Constitution Society, the UCLA School of Law, and the Williams Institute. Speakers included Linda Greenhouse, former New York Times Supreme Court reporter and current Senior Research Scholar at Yale Law School. (A complete list of panelists is available here.)
“Far from ending public debate on questions of sexual liberty and equality, the conference highlighted how dramatically the legacies of Roe and Lawrence continue to shape and spur national debate years and even decades after their announcement,” said Adam Winkler, Professor of Law, UCLA Law School.
Forty years after Roe v. Wade and 10 years after Lawrence v. Texas, conference panelists addressed how the Court’s rulings have influenced what sexual freedom means in 2013, both as a legal question and as an evolving value and priority for Americans. Scholars articulated what constitutional rights might be discerned from Roe, Lawrence, and their progeny, and whether these legal principles are consistent with how the public thinks about questions of sexual liberty and equality. Further, conference participants looked at the role of framing by advocates on both sides of abortion and LGBT policy debates, and asked how framing has influenced law and policy advancements.
These questions are relevant to a range of controversies currently unfolding in the courts. For example, the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that birth control be included in the standard benefits packages sold by insurance companies has sparked more than 40 lawsuits. The Supreme Court is also scheduled to consider this spring the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, United States v. Windsor, and California’s prohibition on same-sex marriage, Hollingsworth v. Perry.
“As judges, policymakers, and advocates consider the way forward, this conference gave insight into the Court’s powerful role in shaping and advancing our legal and cultural notions of sexual liberty and equality,” said Douglas NeJaime, Associate Professor of Law, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.