Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Winter 2021 SCOTUS in the Classroom Case: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization



We’re pleased to announce our Winter SCOTUS in the Classroom case from the October ’21 Term: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This case has the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade and become a landmark abortion access case. It focuses on a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. 

Oral arguments in this case will take place in-person in the Supreme Court building on December 1, 2021, and will broadcast LIVE! We encourage teachers to feature this case in class as it is being argued and decided at the Court. 

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization presents an opportunity to teach about the doctrine of stare decisis and SCOTUS’ application of precedents such as Roe v. Wade (a required A.P Government and Politics SCOTUS case), the right to privacy, and a state’s authority to pass restrictions on abortions. 

Case materials and resources are available on the SCOTUS in the Classroom program page. Teachers are encouraged to hold moot courts or mini-moot courts of the case the same weeks that the Supreme Court hears arguments, giving students the opportunity to follow discussion and analysis in the news and listen to or read a transcript of the actual oral arguments at the Court. You can find instructions and handouts for conducting a moot court in our newly revised free Classroom Guide to Moot Courts.

Background

This case involves a Mississippi law, The Gestational Age Act, which bans abortion after 15 weeks. The day Mississippi enacted the 15-week ban, Jackson Women’s Health Organization sought a temporary restraining order against its enforcement and challenged the law. The U.S. District Court declared Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy unconstitutional. 

Mississippi appealed the decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the District Court’s decision that the law was unconstitutional. Mississippi petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case, and it was granted. 

The important question presented in this case is whether all pre-viability prohibitions (bans) on elective abortions are unconstitutional.