Table 7.2. The Impact of Precedent vs. Preferences on the O’Connor et al. Judgment in Casey.


Court’s Prior Ruling (Precedent)

O’Connor’s Prior View

Casey Result


Trimester (Roe)

“Neither sound constitutional theory nor our need to decide cases based on the application of neutral principles can accommodate an analytic framework according to the ‘stages’ of pregnancy” (Akron I, O’Connor dissent, at 452)

“We reject the trimester framework” (at 872).


Compelling Interest (Roe)

“A lawful abortion is not unconstitutional unless it unduly burdens the right” (Akron I, O’Connor dissent, at 453).

“The right protects the woman from unduly burdensome interference (at 874).

Spousal Notice

Unconstitutional (Danforth)



Informed Consent

Unconstitutional (Akron I)

Informed consent provisions “impose no undue burden” (Akron I, O’Connor dissent, at 472).

“To the extent that Akron I and Thornburgh find a constitutional violation when the government requires, as it does here, the giving of truthful and nonmisleading information . . ., those decisions are overruled” (at 882).

24-hour Waiting

Unconstitutional (Akron I)

“Although the waiting period may impose an additional cost on the abortion decision, this increased cost does not unduly burden the availability of abortions” (Akron I, O’Connor dissent, at 473)

“We consider (Akron’s decision striking the waiting period) to be wrong” (at 885).

Parental Consent

Valid (Akron II)

O’Connor joined the Akron II majority opinion.

Valid (at 899).

Record Keeping

Valid (Danforth)


No “substantial obstacle” (at 900).


Source: Segal and Spaeth, The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model Revisited  2003), p. 93.