Hastings Law Journal


United States Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun was profoundly affected by reactions to his opinion in Roe v. Wade. This Lecture argues that Justice Blackmun came to identify with that decision in an intensely personal way that shaped his future jurisprudence. In defending and embracing his legacy as author of Roe v. Wade, Justice Blackmun created his legacy.

Borrowing the concept of "path dependence" from the sciences- which, reduced to its core, asserts that eventual outcomes depend on initial conditions-this Lecture explores how writing Roe v. Wade and being personally identified with it impacted Justice Blackmun's career. In particular, this Lecture shows how Justice Blackmun's ever-tighter embrace of Roe brought him to positions he would not otherwise have taken in such areas of the law as commercial speech, the rights of the poor, and women's rights.

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