Why Is Roe v. Wade such a Landmark?

I was just wondering if Roe v. Wade is always thrown up as such a landmark case because the decision hasn’t been undone by cases since (I WAG)? We study these cases in school, and I understand their importance, but only recently the thought hit me that such monumental cases could always have been reversed by now, I concluded. So, is my WAG correct? Is that the root of the big deal about Roe v. Wade turning 30 (IIRC)? Never really gave court decisions much thought… - Jinx

WAG – I’d say it’s a landmark still because it hasn’t been overturned to date, yes, and because it provides a rallying point for both sides of the abortion issue.

It’s right up there with Brown v. Board of Education because of two things:

  1. They overturned existing law and/or social practices in many (perhaps most) states and local communities.
  2. They reached into areas where religious/moral conscience plays a significant role for many people. (Yes, believe it or not, many people thought racial segregation was ordained by God.)

All of the above, plus…

Roe v. Wade also nailed down the tricky issue of the right to privacy. The decision in Roe v. Wade set forth certain rights that were not enumerated in the Constitution, but were implied (“in the penumbra” of the Bill of Rights). There were concurring opinions by other justices who used different arguments, as well as later refinements, but Roe is the base for a whole new set of rights having nothing to do with reproduction.

Actually, I believe [^[group+citemenu!3A]^[level+case+citation!3A]^[group+notes!3A]/doc/{@1}/hit_headings/words=4/hits_only?]Griswold v Connecticutt 381 U.S. 479 (1965)](http://www2.law.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/foliocgi.exe/historic/query=[group+381+u!2Es!2E+479!3A) is where the “penubra” reasoning was first laid out in the context of reproductive rights (and possibly the first use of the term “penumbra”). Quoting the relevant portion from the marority opinion:

Roe built on the foundation of Griswold but did not see the initiation of the “penumbra” theory.