I have meager knowledge of US Politics, even less of US Laws.

I am curious to know whether

  1. The SCOTUS was actively considering overturning Roe V. Wade and Dobbs V. Jackson was just a "happy" but "unnecessary" coincidence triggering the Judicial Review?


  1. Dobbs V. Jackson triggering the Judicial Review was very much necessary to overturn Would Roe V. Wade, which could not be judicially reviewed without a case to consider?

Maybe the Situation is somewhere in between these two possibilities ?

  • May be too speculative. How should we know? Jul 15, 2022 at 12:15
  • 5
    The answer seems to be (2), since courts in the US can’t overturn decisions without a case in front of them Jul 15, 2022 at 13:26
  • 1
    An answer on a previous question here suggests that (2) is the case. Jul 15, 2022 at 13:47
  • @ChrisLoonam That is making the assumption that another case would not have been brought before the court in order to challenge roe v wade. There has been a long running effort to get this ruling.
    – Joe W
    Jul 15, 2022 at 13:52
  • 1
    @JoeW agreed, I think this question is really asking two things though: would there have been another case if not Dobbs, and can the courts overrule decisions without a case in front of them - the answer to the former is speculative, although likely yes, and the latter is answered in the link above. Jul 15, 2022 at 14:05

1 Answer 1


My understanding is that the US Supreme Court is unable to initiate the power of "judicial review" by itself. It can only respond to cases that come before it.

So no matter how badly SCOTUS justices wanted to overturn Roe V. Wade, until a case where Roe V Wade is relevant comes before them they can't do anything about it. In that sense, the Dobbs V. Jackson case was necessary for Roe V. Wade to be overturned.

However I don't believe there was anything all that special about the Dobbs V. Jackson case. A number of states have been passing laws skirting the edge of what Roe V. Wade allowed (or outright crossing the line) specifically so that they would be challenged in court, and those cases would end up in the Supreme Court, and the SCOTUS would have a chance to issue a ruling that might overturn Roe V. Wade.

So if a majority of SCOTUS justices wanted to overturn Roe V. Wade and were looking for an opportunity, one was bound to come before the court sooner or later. In that sense the Dobbs V. Jackson case was not specifically required for SCOTUS to overturn Roe V. Wade. If not for this one there would have been another chance soon enough.

  • I was indeed guessing it was between the 2 Possibilities ! (A) SCOTUS can not review without necessity ! (B) There are many cases available to be selected which can get the review through ! (C) Worst Case, a supporting state can make a Stricter law which can then come to SCOTUS and then the review will go through !
    – Prem
    Jul 15, 2022 at 15:25
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    It is worth pointing out that Roe v Wade was initiated originally in exactly the same way when "Roe" filed a lawsuit against her local DA. However, it is also worth pointing out that "Roe" sued in 1969 and the case was settled in 1973. So her suit was filed in the full knowledge it would be moot since pregnancy lasts nine months. In fact she was "recruited" by some lawyers trying to get a USSC challenge. So neither Roe nor Dobbs were just random cases but were constructed for the purpose of getting a USSC decision. That's how it often works.
    – Fraser Orr
    Jul 16, 2022 at 22:23

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