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Northwestern faculty available on upcoming Supreme Court rulings

Northwestern University faculty from a range of academic disciplines are available to comment on a number of highly anticipated Supreme Court rulings expected over the next few weeks including Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that could lead to the dismantling of Roe v. Wade; West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, which has important implications for regulating planet-warming emissions; and other high-profile cases.

“The writing is already on the wall that this Supreme Court term is likely to be a devastating one for progressives, and the line-up of justices guarantees that this will continue to be the case for years if not decades to come,” said David Shapiro, a clinical professor of law at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law. “But the U.S. Supreme Court is not the highest authority when it comes to state law and the interpretation of state constitutions — that responsibility lies with the individual supreme courts of each state. Increasingly, civil rights lawyers are turning to state constitutional litigation in state court — cases in which the U.S. Supreme Court does not have, and cannot have, much of a role.”

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Joanna Grisinger is an associate professor of instruction and director of legal studies in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern, where she teaches undergraduate courses including “Law & Society;” “Legal and Constitutional History of the United States;” “Constitutional Law;” and “Gender, Sexuality, and the Law.” Her research focuses on the modern administrative state in 20th-century U.S. legal and political history. She can be reached directly at

Quote from Professor Grisinger

“Overturning Roe would mean abortion regulation would revert to the states, leading to a patchwork of protections and forcing many pregnant people to travel across states lines to access abortion services. It also would open up many previously resolved questions about which fundamental rights are truly protected under the Fourteenth Amendment, including contraception, marriage and intimate association.”

Katie Watson, JD is an associate professor of medical education, medical social sciences and obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Watson is a medical ethicist, reproductive health expert and constitutional scholar whose research articles on abortion have been published in JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet and The New Yorker. The author of Scarlet A: The Ethics, Law and Politics of Ordinary Abortion, Watson also recently published an article in the American Journal of Bioethics about reframing the need for abortion care as a health disparity. 

 Quote from Professor Watson

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Reversing Roe is the Supreme Court telling Americans that women aren’t full 'people' under the Constitution. That will be devastating for all women, and worse for those living in restrictive states. However, it’s also possible that a backlash of shock and outrage from people who haven’t yet heard that Roe could be overturned and those who didn’t believe it is possible could be mobilized to create a better future.

“Anti-choice politicians might find themselves in the position of the dog that caught the car and now regrets it. But for that to happen, a lot of people who were not comfortable being involved with abortion politics, or even comfortable with abortion itself, will have to stand up for freedom.”

Dr. Melissa Simon is the vice chair for research in the department of obstetrics and gynecology and the director of the Center for Health Equity Transformation at Northwestern Feinberg. A reproductive health and public health expert, scientist with a substantive body of National Institutes of Health-funded research on health equity, Northwestern Medicine physician, mother of four children and a Latina, Simon can speak on the topic of abortion from multiple perspectives. 

Quote from Dr. Simon

“This is an egregious assault on women. This has been settled law for decades. Safe abortion care is an essential component of safe maternity care. Overturning this law would increase the already rising U.S. maternal mortality rates. This potential Supreme Court decision is dangerous for women.”

Dr. Cassing Hammond is an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern Feinberg and a Northwestern Medicine physician. Director of Northwestern's Section and Fellowship in Complex Family Planning, Hammond’s expertise lies in contraception and abortion among medically compromised patients, first- and second-trimester medical and surgical abortion, sterilization, OBGYN care of women with disabilities and LGBTQ care. He can speak about how common and safe abortion is, at what gestational ages abortions are performed, and medication abortions and telehealth. He has directed abortion education at Northwestern for 20 years and can address abortion education generally and what could happen to medical professionals’ training if abortion is restricted.

 Quote from Dr. Hammond

“If Roe is overturned, we will be in uncharted territory. Illinois will likely experience a surge in abortion volume, though the extent of the surge remains unclear. Most patients will be able to undergo procedures within the community, but some will have medical issues that require hospital-based care - care which is often less accessible and prohibitively expensive for those lacking insurance coverage. The surge could also impact medical service lines traditionally less focused on abortion such as emergency departments and labor floors. While community providers will bear the brunt of the surge, navigating patients between community and hospital-based providers will present an acute and novel challenge. Illinois will also receive increased requests to train residents and fellows from states where abortion is restricted.”   

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd is a professor of political science and religious studies at Northwestern, where she co-directs the Global Religion & Politics Research Group and co-curates the Teaching Law & Religion Case Study Archive. She can be reached by contacting Mohamed Abdelfattah at

Quote from Professor Hurd

“Fear of women’s autonomy and attempts to control their bodies have a long history, both secular and religious, in the U.S. and all over the world. The question of abortion rights that is being decided right now is about women’s control over their bodies, and not religion per se. There are religious Americans on all sides of this issue. The concern — some would say obsession — with sex, gender, sexuality and women’s bodies has become deeply politicized. 

“The idea that it is a ‘religious’ issue is relatively new. Some trace it to the rise of the religious right in the 1970s and ’80s. But concern and fear about women’s autonomy and its societal and even biological consequences can be traced back much further in American history, as Marie Griffiths shows in her book “Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics.” Griffiths tracks these concerns to the rise of the anti-suffrage movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The bottom line is that these are both secular and religious questions. The idea that it is either/or is a distraction.”

Lauren Rivera is a professor of management and organizations in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. She also holds a courtesy appointment as a professor of sociology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Rivera is an expert on workplace personnel practices, with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. To arrange an interview, contact Abby Daniel at

Quote from Professor Rivera

“Striking down Roe v. Wade will be catastrophic for women’s civil and human rights. In states that take away women’s reproductive rights, women’s labor force participation will take a dramatic hit. Pregnancy discrimination is a real issue facing women in employment. Despite laws outlawing pregnancy related discrimination, research shows that employers often refuse to hire pregnant workers; many others terminate women’s employment during pregnancy or shortly after childbirth. 

But crucially, my research shows that these biases apply not just to pregnant women, but all women of childbearing age, who are seen as potential mothers. Other researchers have termed this the “maybe baby” penalty. In a world in which women no longer control their reproduction, every woman of childbearing age becomes a potential mother. This is likely to increase gender discrimination in the workforce.”

Ronald J. Allen is the John Henry Wigmore Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and an expert on constitutional law. He is also available to discuss the outcome of the Dobbs decision.

West Virginia v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Michael Barsa is a professor of practice at Northwestern Pritzker and the co-director of the Environmental Law Concentration. He is an expert on climate change, food security and environmental law. 

David Dana is the Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker and an expert on environmental law, property, land use and professional responsibility. 

Both professors Barsa and Dana are available to discuss this case, which has implications for the regulation of power plants that burn fossil fuels and contribute to climate change. 

Vega v. Tekoh 

David Shapiro is a clinical professor of law at Northwestern Pritzker and an expert on civil and constitutional rights, incarceration, policing and the U.S. courts system.

Quote from Professor Shapiro

“In Vega v. Tekoh, the Court is deciding whether a person can sue a law enforcement officer for failing to give a Miranda warning. Failing to Mirandize a suspect can lead to the exclusion of evidence in a criminal trial, but the Court may hold that it’s not grounds for a civil suit. If so, it will be another step backwards in people’s ability to hold law enforcement officers accountable for misconduct in federal court.”

Torres v. Texas Department of Public Safety

James Pfander is the Owen L. Coon Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker and an expert on federal courts and the role of courts in securing government accountability. Pfander is available for comment on both Vega v. Tekoh and Torres v. Texas Department of Public Safety, which concerns questions about whether Congress can use its war powers to abrogate state sovereign immunity.