Magazine November 29, 2021, Issue

Roe and Stare Decisis

Anti-abortion marchers rally at the Supreme Court during the 46th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., January 18, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Why the Roe precedent should be overturned

Some modern judges and academics have strayed from the traditional understanding of precedent that is rooted in the common-law maxim Stare decisis et quieta non movere. They tend to emphasize the first two words, Stare decisis (“Stand by things decided”), and ignore the rest, which means “and do not disturb settled points.” Settling the law is the primary justification for this doctrine’s application, but precedent is entitled to stare decisis respect only if it actually is settled. Roe v. Wade is radically unsettled because the Court has abandoned the original constitutional rationale for Roe and yet no majority of the

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This article appears as “Unsettled” in the November 29, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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In This Issue


Politics & Policy

End Roe

In this special issue, we examine the legal arguments, the policy arguments, and the social arguments for finally ending the Roe era in America.

The Law

The Policy

The Social Impact

Books, Arts & Manners


Weird English

A review of Highly Irregular: Why Tough, Through, and Dough Don’t Rhyme — and Other Oddities of the English Language, by Arika Okrent.


The Week

The Week

Glenn Youngkin unlocked the secret to electoral success in a Virginia that hadn’t elected a Republican statewide in twelve years.


The Latest