The Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling says:

...Roe and Casey are overruled...

Why is Roe v. Wade abbreviated as Roe, while Planned Parenthood v. Casey is abbreviated as Casey? Shouldn't they be Roe and Planned Parenthood or Wade and Casey?

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    Casey is shorter than Planned Parenthood, and "PP" is well ambiguous. But in any case there is absolutely no rule to use appellant/respondent consistently to refer to cases, otherwise a lot of cases would be "the United States".
    – xngtng
    Jun 24, 2022 at 16:29
  • 1
    @xngtng thank you! So the rule is basically "whichever is more convenient to clearly identify the case while keeping the abbreviation as short as possible"?
    – Someone
    Jun 24, 2022 at 16:54
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    @User37849012643 I disagree. The question is specifically about how a legal case is referred to in a SCOTUS judgement. There Is a tag in case citation.
    – Damila
    Jun 24, 2022 at 19:54
  • @Damila I think that answer to is it on topic or not comes down to is there actually a legal answer. If so then the question makes sense to remain but if not then the question is no longer in our domain. Example: If there is not a legal reason for using yellow paper in a draft then the use of yellow paper is a preference (opinion). Jun 24, 2022 at 20:07
  • 8
    This is a question of legal terminology. It might perhaps be on-topic elsewhere but it could hardly be any more on-topic on any site that it is here This also deals with an issue of long standing custom and practice among courts, lawyers, and legal scholars, and need not have the same answer as similar questions in other fields. This is absolutely on-topic on law.se. Jun 24, 2022 at 22:28

1 Answer 1


There isn't any kind of legal reason for the distinction; it's just a matter of custom and convenience.

The normal rule is that you would shorthand a case name by referring to the first-named party, but there are lots of times where that is not the case. With Casey, the issue is that Planned Parenthood is a serial litigant, so if you were to just refer to "Planned Parenthood," there would be some ambiguity as to whether you were referring to Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52 (1976), or Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), or any of the many other cases Planned Parenthood has litigated in the circuit and district courts.

For the same reason, criminal cases are typically named after the defendant, as we would otherwise have tens of thousands of cases named "California" or "New York" or "United States."

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    Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey seems to be a problem for either order then, doesn't it?
    – Ryan_L
    Jun 24, 2022 at 22:43
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    Less so for "Casey," which isn't the name of any other high-profile abortion cases.
    – bdb484
    Jun 24, 2022 at 23:13
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    @Ryan_L Abbreviations are typically only used for famous cases, or in contexts that disambiguate. So if you're talking about abortion cases, "Casey" wouldn't be confused with non-abortion cases involving someone named Casey.
    – Barmar
    Jun 25, 2022 at 15:01
  • 1
    Case names are routinely abbreviated, regardless of whether a case is famous or in need of disambiguation (in which case, abbreviation would be rather unhelpful). It's more like when newspapers refer to people by their last name rather than their full name.
    – bdb484
    Jun 26, 2022 at 1:26

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