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Roe v. Wade Archive Sells at Auction for More Than $600,000

Archives from the case have been stored by Linda Coffee, the attorney who filed the case in Dallas, for decades.
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The $15 receipt from when Roe v. Wade was originally filed in Dallas. Courtesy Nate D. Sanders Auctions

Linda Coffee was 30 when she heard on the radio that she won a case in the Supreme Court. That case, Roe v. Wade, would become the rule of law in regards to abortion rights for decades. Friday night, her archives sold at auction in Los Angeles for $615,633. The buyer wishes to remain anonymous, the auction house says.

The archive includes Coffee’s law license (issued just two years before she filed Roe), the quill pens she received when she argued the case before the Supreme Court, her letter to Sarah Weddington suggesting that they work together on the case, and the receipt from when she filed the case.

Last week, Coffee and her partner, Rebecca Hartt, talked with Kathy Wise about the case (which was filed in Dallas), the archives, and what drove her to offer the treasure trove of more than 150 documents at auction.

“I’m 80 years old now. I can’t depend on how much longer I’ll live,” Coffee told Kathy. “Sarah Weddington [her co-counsel in Roe v. Wade] passed away the day after my birthday in 2021 [at the age of 76].”

Hartt said that Coffee’s bout with West Nile in 2020 also factored in, saying “Linda almost passed away.”

“And then, of course, the case was overturned. But that was a real eye-opener,” Hartt said. “I said, ‘Linda, you might live to be 88 like Judge Sarah Hughes, but you need to get this stuff to the next generation.’”

Nate D. Sanders Auctions said that bidding started at $50,000. “This is one of the most significant legal archives in American history, given the profound impact of Roe v. Wade,” Sanders said in a news release. “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.”


Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson

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Bethany Erickson is the senior digital editor for D Magazine. She's written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.

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