1 minute read

Hodgson v. Minnesota

The Supreme Court Affirms The Court Of Appeals Decision

On 25 June 1990, the Supreme Court ruled on the case. A five-justice majority affirmed the decision of the court of appeals, striking down the notification requirement without judicial bypass as unconstitutional. Five justices also agreed that the provision in the Minnesota law requiring notification with judicial bypass was constitutional. However, the justices disagreed on the particulars of this part of the decision and issued separate opinions on the matter.

On the issue of notification without judicial bypass, the Court found that this was not a reasonable way to ensure that parents become involved in a minor's decision to terminate a pregnancy. Writing for the majority, Justice Stevens opined:

The requirement that both parents be notified, whether or not both wish to be notified or have assumed responsibility for the upbringing of the child, does not reasonably further any legitimate state interest. Any such interest in supporting the authority of a parent, who is presumed to act in the minor's best interest, to assure that the abortion decision is knowing, intelligent, and deliberate, would be fully served by a one-parent notification requirement as to functioning families, where notice to either parent would normally constitute notice to both.
Futhermore, Stevens reasoned, the two-parent notification requirement was unrealistic--potentially even harmful--in a world where functional two-parent households are increasingly rare.
[A]s the record demonstrates, the two-parent requirement actually disserves the state interest in protecting and assisting the minor with respect to the thousands of dysfunctional families affected by the statute, where the requirement proved positively harmful. There is no merit to the argument that the two-parent requirement is justified because, in the ideal family, the minor should make her decision only after consultation with both parents, who should naturally be concerned with her welfare. The State has no legitimate interest in conforming family life to a state-designed ideal by requiring family members to talk together.

As to the issue of notification with judicial bypass, a different majority coalesced around the view that consultation with a judge was a reasonable safety valve in cases where both the minor's parents could not be located or properly notified. "[A] judicial bypass is an expeditious and efficient means by which to separate the applications of the law which are constitutional from those which are not." Justice Kennedy concluded.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Hodgson v. Minnesota - Judicial Background, The Case At Hand, The Lower Courts Rule, The Supreme Court Affirms The Court Of Appeals Decision