Jun 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Erin Hawley's win in court

Josh and Erin Hawley

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) with Erin Hawley during his 2018 Senate campaign. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

When Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) hailed the end of Roe v. Wade, he was also celebrating a victory for his wife, a lawyer who helped shape the arguments in the Mississippi case that became the vehicle for the ruling.

Driving the news: As senior counsel to the appellate team at Christian legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, Erin Morrow Hawley helped the state of Mississippi draft merits and reply briefs for Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. "I'm so pleased it's a 6-3 decision," she told Axios. "The Supreme Court has taken the shackles of Roe off of states."

Why it matters: Hawley, 42, is a key player in her husband's political career, and she'll continue to be personally involved in conservatives' efforts to ban abortion state by state.

  • The couple launched a podcast together last year. Both gave keynote addresses in February at a state GOP dinner in which her role in the litigation was highlighted, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
  • She is also a legal fellow with the Independent Women's Law Center who previously taught law at the University of Missouri.

The intrigue: Both Hawleys clerked in 2007 for Chief Justice John Roberts. In his concurring opinion Friday, Roberts joined in the majority ruling upholding Dobbs — but not overturning Roe.

Flashback: In April 2021, Erin Hawley — with their youngest child, an infant, along — traveled to Mississippi to meet with the legal team, working closely with state Solicitor General Scott Stewart to lay the foundation of the state's case.

  • "The Supreme Court had been really clear that to find liberty interests protected by the 14th Amendment, that right needs to be deeply rooted in a nation's history and tradition," Hawley told Axios.
  • "There's no way to manufacture a historically rooted right to abortion," she said, noting abortion was unlawful under common law at the nation's founding and 28 states prohibited abortion when the 14th Amendment was enacted in 1868.

Background: Erin Hawley grew up on a ranch in New Mexico and studied animal science at Texas A&M University before attending law school, where she was first exposed to religious liberty issues.

Editor’s note: This post was corrected to show that 28 states prohibited abortion when the 14th Amendment was enacted in 1868, not 37 states.

Go deeper