Hadley Arkes

What the Hearings Missed

In the aftermath of Judge Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Hadley Arkes analyzes the Senate hearings. Despite some well-timed questions, Republicans ultimately missed their chance to put Judge Jackson on the record defending the right to kill unwanted children even after birth.

Once More Unto the Breach: Arkes v. Whelan on the Overruling of Roe

In a response to Ed Whelan’s critique of “On Overturning Roe,” Prof. Arkes insists that the moral argument against Roe is the only logical one for judges who believe in the deep wrong of abortion. The pro-life cause rests on objective moral truths, not on value judgments, and as a result does not require judges (as Whelan claims) “to read their own moral convictions into the Constitution.”

Justice Byron White and Abortion

Responding to Richard Doerflinger’s critique of “Waiting for Dobbs,” Prof. Arkes asserts that conservative justices could successfully outlaw most abortions by returning to Justice White’s standard: only abort to save the mother’s life. At the same time, however, White did the pro-life cause a lasting disservice by focusing not on the rights of unborn babies but on the abuse of “raw judicial power.”

Waiting for Dobbs

Hadley Arkes recalls that day, back in 1986, when Justice Byron White, one of the original dissenters in Roe v. Wade, startled Justice John Paul Stevens by suggesting that he too could accept Roe and a “right to abortion” in some form. Stevens seemed genuinely baffled. What White was offering was an understanding that would keep Roe v. Wade as a shell, while the substance was removed. Professor Arkes tries to reconstruct that argument here as an anticipation of what might happen if the Supreme Court seeks to take “the low door under the whole” in the Dobbs case—sustaining the law in Mississippi while affecting not to overrule Roe v. Wade.

‘Dobbs’ and the Conservative Legal Movement

If ‘Dobbs’ is decided following the ‘neutral principles’ of constitutional interpretation, it would not mean the end of abortion, according to Gerald Bradley, or even the beginning of the end of it. ‘Dobbs’ would instead be the start of a whole new phase of the political struggle over abortion. Yet the Constitution requires more.

The Dobbs Case and the Strains of Prudence

Prof. Arkes analyzes the arguments at play in the upcoming Dobbs case, and explains that while there are potential outfielders and stockbrokers, there is no such thing as a “potential” human being.

Anchoring Truths
Anchoring Truths is a James Wilson Institute project
The James Wilson Institute’s Mission is to restore to a new generation of lawyers, judges, and citizens the understanding of the American Founders about the first principles of our law and the moral grounds of their own rights.
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