Angela LaRosa | Reporter

Political science professor Josh Boston educated students about the June 2022 landmark decision, which overturned the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade, setting women back 50 years for reproductive rights. 

The first of the a three-lecture series hosted by the Center of Women and Gender Equity, explained how precedents worked and the levels of courts. 

Boston has a doctoral degree and studies the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts. He provided what he calls a “great service to campus” on Sept. 16.

He lectured about precedents in Supreme Court cases Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

“Judicial precedent matters,” Boston said. “They have an impact on courts, as we see with Dobbs.” 

Precedents are put in place as a guideline for future cases similar in nature. 

The decision to overturn 50 years of women’s reproductive rights as established in Roe v. Wade challenged the norm of “stare decisis,” which translates from Latin to let the decision stand.

Supreme Court Justices once determined restrictions on abortions fell under the undue burden standard, which is a test held by the Supreme Court stating legislature cannot make laws that are too burdensome or restrictive of one’s fundamental rights. Additionally, they used the Due Process Clause, which is seen in the fifth and fourteenth amendments to prohibit the government any action that would deprive a person from life, liberty or property,  to back their decision up.

The June decision of Dobbs v. Jackson ruled that since abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, regulations on abortions will go to the states. 

Boston described the Dobbs ruling as a way to “strike down laws but also strike down existing precedents.” While judges in lower courts are bound by a code of conduct, “the Supreme Court Justices aren’t bound by the Code of Conduct.”

Since the overturn caused by Dobbs, women’s rights are not protected. Doctors are having to consult lawyers to perform routine procedures, and women are having to cross state lines out of a fear of facing prosecution.

“We’re at square one. We don’t know what’s allowable,” Boston said.

Boston’s lecture series continues on Tuesday, Sept. 27 and Tuesday, October 18. Both lectures will be held in Hayes 203 from noon to 1 p.m.

 

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