(NEW YORK TIMES) — When the Supreme Court hears a pair of cases on same-sex marriage on Tuesday and Wednesday, the justices will be working in the shadow of a 40-year-old decision on another subject entirely: Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion.
Judges, lawyers and scholars have drawn varying lessons from that decision, with some saying that it was needlessly rash and created a culture war.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal and a champion of women’s rights, has long harbored doubts about the ruling.
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“It’s not that the judgment was wrong, but it moved too far, too fast,” she said last year at Columbia Law School.
Briefs from opponents of same-sex marriage, including one from 17 states, are studded with references to the aftermath of the abortion decision and to Justice Ginsburg’s critiques of it. They say the lesson from the Roe decision is that states should be allowed to work out delicate matters like abortion and same-sex marriage for themselves.