Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who argued Roe v. Wade in her mid-20s and went on to serve in various public service roles, recently learned that her contract would not be renewed for her faculty job at the University of Texas at Austin.
Weddington says she is "flabbergasted" about UT's decision to terminate her contract, despite her experience, love of teaching, and success in mentoring students who say she helped them go on to impressive careers. "I thought if I was really good and I worked well with students, tenure was not significant. I found I was wrong," she says.
Weddington will leave at the end of May, after more than 20 years with UT-Austin. She is an adjunct professor in the Center for Women's and Gender Studies within the College of Liberal Arts. She taught a class that gave undergraduate students a taste of law school, using a law-school textbook and the Socratic method, and a popular class about leadership in America.
After Roe, Weddington served in the Texas House of Representatives, the U.S. House of Representatives, as general counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and as adviser to U.S. President Jimmy Carter. "I would have thought that having that expertise available to students here would be appreciated, especially to have a lawyer who really likes being a lawyer available to work with people who want to be law students," she says.
Michelle Bryant, spokeswoman for the college, says she was unable to locate officials to comment before deadline.
Weddington says she already has plans for when her contract ends in May. In 1992 she wrote a book about herself and Roe called "A Question of Choice." She now will find time for another autobiographical book project, which chronicles what has happened since then.
Weddington also has a collection of records from her career, such as the original U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Roe signed by all nine justices, that she wants to get in order.
"Some people say, 'Maybe this is a good thing for you to have some time,' because I've always been so busy," Weddington says.
First reported in Texas Lawyer: Tex Parte Blog.