Episode 29: Nina Varsava, Precedent, Reliance, and Dobbs

A remotely-recorded podcast interview with Assistant Professor of Law Nina Varsava (SSRNLaw Repository) to discuss her forthcoming law review article.

Prof. Varsava (@NinaVarsava)’s newest article is forthcoming in the Harvard Law Review and is titled “Precedent, Reliance, and Dobbs”.

The article examines treatment of stare decisis in the Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs majority opinion focusing on its approach to reliance. The article argues that the justices’ refusal to recognize the reliance interest at stake is inconsistent with the Court’s previously prevailing stare decisis doctrine and is also mistaken as a matter of first principles, undermining basic rule of law values.

Prof. Varsava also discusses her background and how she got interested in studying stare decisis- she completed a multidisciplinary PhD along with her JD and focused on the topic. She also had first hand experience with precedent in working as a state Supreme Court clerk.

The new paper talks about reliance interests in stare decisis and Prof. Varsava explains how this is important for society- people can rely on the decisions as stable expectations. When courts overturn these decisions, it throws off expectations and people can no longer rely on these important decisions.

When a court like SCOTUS decides whether to overturn a case like Roe (which they did in Dobbs), they have to weigh the reliance factor and how much people have been relying on this precedent.

Prof. Varsava then goes into detail on the Dobbs situation and the reliance interests involved in the case.

Listen to the Episode

The interview was conducted on Dec. 19, 2023. | 28:03 minutes; published January 23, 2023. Transcript file (PDF).

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