Since the U.S. Supreme Court has become increasingly conservative under the administration of President Donald Trump, speculation about the future of Roe v. Wade —the landmark decision n 1973 that made abortion legal in all 50 states —has become a hot-button political issue.
In Utah in particular, many issues tied to reproductive justice are before the state legislature with possible public policy changes to come in the near future. The Utah House of Representatives passed a proposal earlier this month to ban abortions sought because a fetus has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome, and the legislation will now head to the Senate. The Utah House of Representatives this month also passed a bill to ban abortion after 18 weeks, setting the stage for a legal challenge if the bill becomes law this session.
Activists on both sides of these complex issues have strong opinions about abortion and the current state of laws that govern reproductive rights in the U.S. At a polarizing time in political history, the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law will delve into the issue further at its 53rd Annual William H. Leary Lecture on March 6 with a lecture titled “The Constitution and Reproductive Justice in the Age of Trump.”
The keynote speaker is Reva Siegel, the Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Professor of Law at Yale Law School who is a nationally renowned scholar in the field of reproductive justice.
Professor Siegel’s writing draws on legal history to explore questions of law and inequality and to analyze how courts interact with representative government and popular movements in interpreting the Constitution. Her lecture will explore those themes through the lens of reproductive justice.
The annual Leary Lecture began at the S.J. Quinney College of Law in 1965. The lecture is named in honor of William H. Leary, dean of the law school from 1915 to 1950. Hundreds from Utah’s legal community and the general public are expected to attend the lecture, which starts with a 5:30 p.m. reception, followed by 6 p.m. lecture on the sixth floor of the law school, 383 South University Street. (The event is free and open to the public, but registration is requested).
Professor Siegel is a dynamic speaker with significant research expertise in the area of reproductive justice. Some of her recent publications include Her recent articles include ProChoiceLife: Asking Who Protects Life and How—and Why It Matters in Law and Politics, 93 Ind. L.J. 207 (2018); Community in Conflict: Same-Sex Marriage and Backlash, 64 U.C.L.A. L. Rev. 1728 (2017); Conscience Wars: Complicity-Based Conscience Claims in Religion and Politics, 124 Yale L.J. (2015) (with Doug NeJaime); Meador Lecture: Race-Conscious, But Race-Neutral? The Constitutionality of Disparate Impact in the Roberts Court, 66 Ala. L. Rev. (2015); and The Supreme Court, 2012 Term — Foreword: Equality Divided, 127 Harv. L. Rev. (2013). Her books include Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking (with Paul Brest, Sanford Levinson, Jack M. Balkin, and Akhil Reed Amar, 2018); Before Roe v. Wade: Voices That Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling (with Linda Greenhouse, 2012); and The Constitution in 2020 (edited with Jack M. Balkin, 2009). Professor Siegel is a member of the American Philosophical Society, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an honorary fellow of the American Society for Legal History. She serves on the board of Advisors and the Board of Academic Advisors of the American Constitution Society and on the General Council of the International Society of Public Law.