A Message from Chancellor and Dean David Faigman: Roe v. Wade

professional man overlooking the city

Dear UC Law SF community,

Today’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade is devastating on many levels. I, too, feel the pain and shock I see in the faces of colleagues who, though bracing for the blow based on a leaked draft of the opinion, still held out hope for a different outcome. This decision turns back the clock not just to 1973, but to a century when women did not have the right to vote and were, largely, treated as property. The Court has undermined and invalidated so many of the premises of modern society, of principles of equality, that my generation, and my children’s generation, took for granted. The world today is so much less generous and inclusive than it was just yesterday. I tremble for my granddaughters.

I appreciate, of course, that this is a highly politicized issue and that people have different views on this fundamental issue, many of whom are driven by sincerely held religious beliefs. But those with religious objections to abortion do not have the right to impose them on others. As a dean and professor of constitutional law, this opinion—and, indeed, the composition of the Court itself, which is a product of political gerrymandering—raises basic questions regarding the legitimacy of the Court itself.

Just the obvious inconsistencies between the rationales of today’s decision in Dobbs and yesterday’s decision in Bruen striking down New York’s century-old restrictions on carrying concealed handguns outside the home raise serious questions of institutional legitimacy. On the eve of Pride weekend, Justice Thomas’s concurring opinion in Dobbs underscores the breadth of the potential challenges to other fundamental and hard-won rights, including marriage equality. This is all taking place against the backdrop of ongoing Congressional hearings that reveal the precarious state of the rule of law.

UC Law SF is committed more than ever to its core mission to prepare diverse students to advance the rule of law and pursue justice. Our students are the future lawyers and policymakers who will need to grapple with the outcome of today’s decision, and I put my faith and hope in them.

Best regards,

David L. Faigman
Chancellor and Dean
John F. Digardi Distinguished Professor of Law
University of California Hastings College of the Law