An extraordinary archive belonging to lawyer Linda Coffee regarding one of the most consequential cases argued before the U.S. Supreme Court: Roe v. Wade sold Friday night for $615,633 at Nate D. Sanders Auctions.
Linda Coffee was just 30 years old in January 1973 when she heard on the radio that she had won her Supreme Court case Roe v.Wade. Seven Supreme Court justices agreed with her arguments in Roe v. Wade that the United States Constitution protected the rights for a woman to have an abortion.
Coffee’s collection documents the entire journey – from the letter Coffee wrote to Sarah Weddington proposing that the two women work together “to challenge the Texas Abortion Statute” to the receipt given to Coffee after filing the case in Texas, to the original affidavit signed by Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe”), to the Supreme Court quill pens given to Coffee after successfully arguing the case.
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The archive contains nearly 150 documents and letters related to the case, plus personal effects such as Coffee’s law license, bestowed upon her in 1968 only two years before she would file Roe v. Wade.
Coffee’s Archive Highlights:
The original notarized affidavit signed in blue ballpoint by Norma L. McCorvey, “alias Jane Roe”, dated May 21, 1970, as part of a motion for summary judgment. The 10-point affidavit clearly states McCorvey’s reasons as to why she wants an abortion and also states that she can’t afford an illegal abortion that’s available in Dallas by “competent licensed physicians.”
Two receipts, each dated March 3, 1970, from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, with Coffee’s name handwritten at top.
The first receipt is for filing “Roe vs. Wade” with its case number CA-3-3690-B also noted. The second receipt is for “Doe vs. Wade”, a case ultimately found to be moot which was filed by Coffee on behalf of a married couple who didn’t wish to have children in the future.
The two quill pens were given to Linda Coffee for arguing the case before the Supreme Court in 1971 and 1972, an honor bestowed upon lawyers who argue a case before the nation’s highest Court. Each pen measures 10″ long, framed together in a shadow box.
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Coffee’s retained copy of the letter that she wrote to Sarah Weddington regarding the possibility of working together on an abortion case.
In this charming letter dated December 4, 1969, Coffee writes in part, “I am very enthusiastic about the possibility of your organization in Austin…bringing an action to challenge the Texas Abortion Statute…Would you consider being co-counsel in the event that a suit is actually filed. I have always found that it is a great deal more fun to work with someone on a lawsuit of this nature…”
Coffee’s law license from the State of Texas, dated May 13, 1968, shortly after she graduated from the University of Texas Law School.
Auction owner Nate Sanders said, “This is one of the most significant legal archives in American history, given the profound impact of Roe v. Wade. Not only did the case become one of the most prominent Supreme Court decisions of all time, profoundly impacting life for American women, it also ignited a counter-debate that has polarized the nation since 1973.”
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