Letters to the Editor: What reversing Roe vs. Wade means for the Supreme Court’s legitimacy

Five people sit down and four stand behind them, all wear black robes over business wear
Members of the Supreme Court sit for a group photo on April 23, 2021.
(Erin Schaff / Associated Press)

To the editor: The constitutional argument that underpins the Supreme Court’s leaked draft decision in Roe vs. Wade is supported by many citizens of good intent and constitutional scholars of high repute, despite the relatively rare occasions that settled precedent is explicitly reversed by the Supreme Court. (“The brazenly political Supreme Court shows it will strike down abortion rights,” May 2)

If Roe is reversed this year, it will have been settled law for almost 50 years. By contrast, the notorious Dred Scott decision, handed down in 1857, was reversed within years, which appears even less respectful of settled precedent until one realizes that it took the bloodiest conflict in American history — the Civil War — to reverse that precedent by the passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments.

Furthermore, the Korematsu decision in 1944 upheld the forced removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast during World War II. A year later, the war ended, but Korematsu remained the law of the land until it was reversed by the Supreme Court in 2018.


This goes to show, perhaps, that the strict constructionist concerns of the draft decision — based on a legitimate and widely accepted constitutional principle — compelled a reversal of Roe’s settled precedent.

Michael Abzug, Los Angeles


To the editor: Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. ordered an investigation into the draft decision leak, what he calls an “egregious breach of trust.”

Tell me if I’m wrong, but didn’t I watch the Senate confirmation hearings of Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett on television? And am I mistaken when I heard each of them proclaim their respect of precedent?

Misleading the public to get a job of this magnitude is what I call an egregious breach of trust.

Dennis Hammermeister, Granada Hills



To the editor: The Supreme Court’s purported decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade overturns more than a half-century of precedent, and has effectively thrown out the doctrine of stare decisis.

This opinion has now rendered the court an illegitimate institution, and its decisions should be afforded the same respect as the court has this week shown for the rule of law: none.

Richard Lubetzky, Los Angeles