Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Call for Book Chapters:
Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Women and Conflicts of Law:
Global Perspectives, 1815-Present
EXTENDED DEADLINE AND BROADENED FOCUS
We invite chapter submission for inclusion in an edited collection on Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Women and Conflicts of Law.
The volume discusses the consequences for women when law systems clashed--between independent nations, colonizers and colonized, majority and minority religions, or between secular and religious laws. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw industrial nations draw more and more of the globe into the orbit of their law systems, and these were also the centuries in which women contested their legal positions vigorously. Thus, this period offers an ideal forum for studying the effects of legal differences across the globe. Conflicts of law were inevitable whenever people crossed borders, converted to different religions, or married/divorced someone of a different class, religion, or locality. Women were often harmed by conflicts of law, but this was not inevitable. In other words, these clashes offered both a challenge and an opportunity.
This volume has no geographical limitations; we welcome proposals from historians of all parts of the world. The most important factor for selection will be the authors’ ability to highlight women’s experiences when law systems clashed. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Conflicts between criminal and civil law
- Conflicts over differing national laws of marriage, divorce, and child custody
- Women in imperial law systems
- The interaction between gender and other factors such as race, class, and sexual orientation in the law courts
- Conflict between secular and religious courts
- The consequences of the lack of legal recognition for lesbian and transgender families
- The regulation and criminalization of sex work across national borders
- Women as actors in the international legal community
- Feminist efforts to eliminate women’s disabilities caused by conflicts of law
- Disputes over nationality, dual nationality, and statelessness in peace and war
The proposed schedule is as follows:
January 15, 2023 – Proposals due; these should be of no more than 300 words, accompanied by a one-page C.V.
February 15, 2023 – Authors receive notice of editorial decision.
November 15, 2023 – Full manuscripts due to the editor. Manuscripts should be standard length for journal articles, approximately 7,500-8,500 words (including notes).
Those interested in contributing should direct all correspondence to the volume editor, Dr. Ginger Frost at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, September 16, 2022
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
This book tells the untold story of the Married Women's Association. Unlike more conventional histories of family law, which focus on legal actors, it highlights the little-known yet indispensable work of a dedicated group of life-long activists.
Formed in 1938, the Married Women's Association took reform of family property law as its chief focus. The name is deceptively innocuous, suggesting tea parties and charity fundraisers, but in fact the MWA was often involved in dramatic confrontations with politicians, civil servants, and Law Commissioners. The Association boasted powerful public figures, including MP Edith Summerskill, authors Vera Brittain and Dora Russell, and barrister Helena Normanton. They campaigned on matters that are still being debated in family law today.
Quiet Revolutionaries sheds new light upon legal reform then and now by challenging longstanding assumptions, showing that piecemeal legislation can be an effective stepping stone to comprehensive reform and highlighting how unsuccessful bills, though often now forgotten, can still be important triggers for change. Drawing upon interviews with members' friends and family, and thousands of archival documents, the book is compulsory reading for lawyers, legal historians, and anyone who wishes to explore histories of law reform from the ground up.
In 1938, a group of feminist agitators came together in London to tackle what they saw as the most pressing issue of their time: inequality in marriage. For the Married Women’s Association, the right to vote – won for women over 30 in 1918 – was just the beginning of women’s emancipation. The legal status of housewives was next.
If you were a married woman in the early 20th century, you had no rights in your home, nor in the housekeeping money your husband gave you, nor even in the bed you slept in, unless you had used your own money to buy it.
You were also paid less than men, while all the work in the home was exclusively your domain and was unpaid. Your husband, by contrast, would be paid an inflated income to support his dependants, termed a “family wage”, to which, ironically, you had no rights to whatsoever. In the eyes of the law, you were essentially invisible.
Thursday, August 25, 2022
This snapshot illustrates the merits of Elisabeth Griffith’s engaging, relevant and sweeping chronicle of women’s fight for equality in the United States — and by examining 100 years of history through a feminist lens, a pattern emerges: Each blow from the patriarchy is countered by a well-aimed and calculated retaliation from American women.
Books of true feminist history are rare. Rarer still are these histories intersectional; feminist history tends to be synonymous with white women’s history. Not this book. Griffith delivers a multiracial, inclusive timeline of the struggles and triumphs of both Black and white women in America. “Historically, the white press has not covered the activism of Black women,” she writes. (Her previous book centered on the life of Cady Stanton.) Despite difficult-to-find archival sources, Griffith says, “I’ve named as many women as possible.”
A profoundly illuminating tour de force, Griffith’s book begins with Susan B. Anthony and unfolds chronologically, sorted into chapters that track a “pink” timeline of history. “Fifty years ago, when women’s history was struggling for legitimacy in academia,” Griffith explains, “feminists divided American history into ‘blue’ and ‘pink’ timelines. Conference panels debated whether Zachary Taylor’s presidency was more relevant to women’s lives than the invention of the tin can, or whether Jacksonian democracy deserved a chapter when the suffrage campaign did not.”
“Formidable” is organized around major fights: voting rights, working conditions, education access, health care, racial violence, reproductive rights, race and gender discrimination, the wage gap, electoral office.
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
False Claims Continue Claiming Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony as Anti-Abortion Advocates
False claims continue to abound about pioneering 19th century feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony as to their views on abortion, including this week in the Wall Street Journal.
As a scholar of Stanton's work for the last twenty years studying her focus on legal and social reform of the family and marriage, I have written extensively against these false claims and tried to set the record straight by delving into the historical details (incorrectly) asserted for these claims. I post here to refresh the recollection of that work as relevant to ongoing debates:
First, here's the current, incorrect report, written by anti-abortion activists:
Early feminist icons Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony changed forever the role of women in American society. In the 19th century they tirelessly promoted public education on behalf of women’s equality and demanded that women be given the right to vote. But contrary to recent claims by advocacy groups, they were not in favor of abortion.
After a leaked Supreme Court draft decision appearing to overturn Roe v. Wade circulated in May, the nonprofit National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House in Rochester, N.Y., accused the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political action committee, of misappropriating the famous suffragist’s name. “To suggest that Susan B. Anthony would support government intervention in a woman’s decision about a pregnancy is abhorrent,” museum president Deborah L. Hughes wrote in a post on the organization’s website.
The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Trust similarly claims that its namesake would have supported abortion-rights advocacy in the 21st century. The group has filed lawsuits in Michigan, New York and Rhode Island, asking courts, according to a press release, “to protect Roe v. Wade from being overturned, and firmly establish the Equal Rights Amendment . . . in the United States Constitution.”
In fact, it’s the pro-choice groups that have it wrong. During their lifetimes, both women vociferously condemned abortion.
Here are links to my work challenging and disproving the historical basis on which these incorrect assumptions continue to rely:
Tracy Thomas, Misappropriating Women's History in the Law and Politics of Abortion, 36 Seattle L. Rev. 1 (2012) (discussing both Stanton & Anthony)
Tracy Thomas, ECS Book Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Feminist Foundations of Family Lawm chp. 4, The "Incidental Relation" of Mother (NYUP 2016)
Tracy Thomas, Gender & the Law Prof Blog, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was Not Against Reproductive Rights
Tracy Thomas, Gender & the Law Prof Blog, Voluntary Motherhood: What Did 19th Century Feminists Think About Abortion and Birth Control
Tracy Thomas, National Constitution Center "We the People" Podcast, The Constitutional Legacy of Seneca Falls
Tracy Thomas, Gender & the Law Prof Blog, Theme for March for Life 2020 Relies on Questionable Women's History, Incorrectly Claiming Early Feminist Leaders as Pro-Life
Tracy Thomas, Gender & the Law Prof Blog, The "Incidental Relation of Mother" and 19th Century Demands for Women's Reproductive Control
Friday, June 10, 2022
Ederlina Co, Weathering Invisible Labor, 51 Southwestern Law Review 258 (2022)
Professor Meera Deo’s Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia powerfully demonstrates how the legal academy has adopted many of American society’s social hierarchies as they relate to race and gender. Inspired by Unequal Profession and using a Critical Race Feminism framework, this Essay centers on women of color professors and the problem of invisible labor in legal academia.
Although for many women of color professors invisible labor involves a labor of love, this Essay contends that the legal academy’s unwillingness to recognize it in a meaningful manner marginalizes women of color professors, devalues how important invisible labor is to law students, law schools, and the legal profession, and perpetuates a race-gender institutional bias. This Essay recommends steps that law school administrators and allies can take immediately to recognize invisible labor but also suggests that the time has come for the legal academy to begin to reexamine how it values “service” more broadly.
Thursday, June 9, 2022
From the Legal History Blog, Jeon on Women-Led, Non-Lawyer Legal Aid in Boston
Kelsea A. Jeon, the holder of an M.Phil in Socio-Legal Research from the University of Oxford, has published Legal Aid Without Lawyers: How Boston’s Nonlawyers Delivered and Shaped Justice for the Poor, 1879–1921 in the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy:Women nonlawyers were some of the first actors to provide organized legal aid to America’s poor. Yet, today, unauthorized practice of law statutes bar nonlawyers from providing legal help, citing concerns about malpractice and public harm. This Article uses a historical case study to challenge conceptions that nonlawyers cannot provide effective legal services to the people. The study focuses on the development of legal aid in Boston via two organizations, the nonlawyer-led Women’s Educational and Industrial Union and the lawyer-centric Boston Legal Aid Society. Although organized legal aid in Boston began with the nonlawyers at the Union, they were eventually overtaken by the lawyer-centric Legal Aid Society. This paper examines this transition in legal aid practitioners, emphasizing how nonlawyers provided effective legal help. In doing so, it challenges the modern-day conception that access to justice requires access to an attorney and serves as a powerful counter to claims that nonlawyer practitioners endanger the public.
For more on the history of women-led legal aid, see Felice Batlan, Women and Justice for the Poor: A History of Legal Aid , 1863-1945 (Cambridge Press 2015):
This book re-examines fundamental assumptions about the American legal profession and the boundaries between “professional” lawyers, “lay” lawyers, and social workers. Putting legal history and women's history in dialogue, it demonstrates that nineteenth-century women's organizations first offered legal aid to the poor and that middle-class women functioning as lay lawyers, provided such assistance. Felice Batlan illustrates that by the early twentieth century, male lawyers founded their own legal aid societies. These new legal aid lawyers created an imagined history of legal aid and a blueprint for its future in which women played no role and their accomplishments were intentionally omitted. In response, women social workers offered harsh criticisms of legal aid leaders and developed a more robust social work model of legal aid. These different models produced conflicting understandings of expertise, professionalism, the rule of law, and ultimately, the meaning of justice for the poor
Wednesday, June 8, 2022
I enjoyed hearing a little bit about this book at today's Summer Feminist Theory Workshop, and the ways in which it can be incorporated into doctrinal classes like Con Law and others.
Bridget Crawford & Emily Waldman, Menstruation Matters: Challenging the Law's Silence on Periods (NYUP 2022)
Approximately half the population menstruates for a large portion of their lives, but the law is mostly silent about the topic. Until recently, most people would have said that periods are private matters not to be discussed in public. But the last few years have seen a new willingness among advocates and allies of all ages to speak openly about periods. Slowly around the globe, people are recognizing the basic fundamental human right to address menstruation in a safe and affordable way, free of stigma, shame, or barriers to access.
Menstruation Matters explores the role of law in this movement. It asks what the law currently says about menstruation (spoiler alert: not much) and provides a roadmap for legal reform that can move society closer to a world where no one is held back or disadvantaged by menstruation. Bridget J. Crawford and Emily Gold Waldman examine these issues in a wide range of contexts, from schools to workplaces to prisons to tax policies and more. Ultimately, they seek to transform both law and society so that menstruation is no longer an obstacle to full participation in all aspects of public and private life.
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
One of the leading historians, Leslie Regan, who literally wrote the book on the topic, see When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973.com/When-Abortion-Was-Crime-1867-1973 (1996) explains what Justice Alito's draft opinion in Dobbs gets very wrong.
f it were possible to eavesdrop on conversations among women and some doctors in early America, you might overhear the phrase “bringing on the menses.” If a woman didn’t menstruate when expected, she was considered to be sick and action was required to bring her back to health. Women who had “a common cold” — a euphemism for “obstructed” menses — used a variety of methods, teas and concoctions to bring “their menses back.”
In other words, returning menstruation to its normal cycle was within the purview of a woman’s own self-health care and was not regulated by the state until after “quickening” — the moment during a pregnancy when a woman could feel a fetus kick and recognized a life “stirring” within her. Quickening occurred between the fourth and sixth month of pregnancy. Only after quickening was an induced miscarriage, an abortion, considered immoral and banned by law.
The truth is that abortion is deeply rooted in our nation’s history — in practice, in morality and in law. Abortion was not always a crime — although Justice Samuel Alito speciously claims otherwise in his recently disclosed draft majority opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.***
The logic that Alito uses in the draft opinion leans heavily on history — history that he gets egregiously wrong. Alito explicitly dismisses the distinction between ending a pregnancy before or after quickening, a distinction that my research has found was critical to the way American women and American physicians traditionally thought about pregnancy. In early America as in early modern England, abortion before “quickening” was legal under common law and widely accepted in practice.
Tuesday, May 31, 2022
The Summer Feminist Legal Theory Series is co-sponsored by the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University and the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, together with The Feminism and Legal Theory Project, The Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative, the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode, the Family Law Center at the University of Virginia School of Law, and the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education. The series is coordinated by Bridget J. Crawford (Pace), email@example.com and Kathy Stanchi (UNLV), firstname.lastname@example.org.
2022 Virtual Summer Feminist Legal Theory Series
New Books in the Field:
Gender, Race and Diversity in the Center of the Conversation
This summer, the U.S. Feminist Judgments Project will host a series of virtual conversations featuring authors and editors of new books in the field, with a focus on how to best use those texts to raise and frame issues of gender, race and other diversity issues in teaching and scholarship. There will be a particular emphasis on how feminist legal theory can enrich both classroom discussions and scholarly perspectives by scholars working across subject matters.
The dates and featured books are:
Authors or Editors
June 8, 2022
Menstruation Matters: Challenging Law’s Silence on Periods (2022)
Bridget J. Crawford (Pace) & Emily Gold Waldman (Pace)
June 22, 2022
Fight the Power: Law and Policy Through Hip-Hop Songs (2022)
Frank Rudy Cooper (UNLV)
July 6, 2022
Panes of the Glass Ceiling: The Unspoken Beliefs Behind the Law’s Failure to Help Women Achieve Professional Parity (2022)
Kerri L. Stone (FIU)
July 20, 2022
Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Employment Discrimination Opinions (2020)
Ann C. McGinley (UNLV) & Nicole Buoncore Porter (Chicago-Kent)
Sessions will run from 11:00 am to 12:15 pm Pacific/2:00 to 3:15 pm Eastern. Attendees from all parts of the academy with a verified academic email address are welcome to attend any and all sessions. There is no charge to attend. All sessions are held via Zoom.
Preregistration for all participants (speakers and attendees) is required via this link: https://pace.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYsceGgrTsuEtd7jdyjQVGVExQa0ODkK5Fd
All attendees including speakers must register. Attendees need to register only once and then can attend any of the sessions in the summer series. Regular attendance is encouraged but not required. Approximately one week before each session, all registrants will receive an excerpt of the book that will be the subject of the discussion.
After a pause in August, the Feminist Legal Theory Series may continue into the academic year with occasional sessions featuring additional works.Authors or editors of recent books are welcome to self-nominate their work for consideration to be featured in a future session.
Thursday, May 26, 2022
New Book The Case of Caroline Norton and the History of Married Women's Loss of Child Custody Rights
***[This is] the tragic story, of Caroline Norton, as conveyed in Fraser’s new book.... Born in 1808, 30 years before Queen Victoria came to the throne, she and her two equally beautiful sisters made a stir when they debuted in society. Her sisters married titled men, while Caroline married George Norton, who, while a younger son, had hopes of a title of his own — but would also turn out to be jealous, violent, petty and unremittingly vicious.***
In 1836, after yet another episode of her husband’s violence, Caroline went to stay with her parents. George moved their children (the youngest not yet 3) to his sister’s house, where he forcibly detained them, refusing Caroline access. He also claimed her earnings as a writer. All this was, at the time, his legal right.
And so, driven by the loss of her children, Caroline did that most unladylike of things: She fought. She fought George in the court of public opinion, writing pamphlets and essays and articles. She fought him in the courts. And he fought back. He sued Lord Melbourne, his patron, for “criminal conversation” with his wife.
Crim. con., as it was known, was not quite the same thing as suing for adultery. It was, rather, a property suit: Since a wife was the legal property of her husband, and adultery reduced the value of that property, the wife’s lover could be sued for financial compensation. George demanded 10,000 pounds from Melbourne, millions in today’s money.
While George did in fact want money, he wanted revenge much more, and by naming Melbourne he focused public attention squarely on his wife. In court, as in life, George Norton did not shine, and, unable to actually prove adultery, he lost the case. But the damage was done: Melbourne, tainted by the scandal, abandoned Caroline Norton, as did her friends.
However, she did not give up. Norton continued to campaign tirelessly for access to her children, and the publicity she brought to the legal situation forced politicians to confront the law. In 1839, the Custody of Infants Act was passed, allowing judges to give custody of children under 7 to the mother.
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
***To help understand how we got to this point, here is a list of 10 books — five that examine the legal, political and social foundations of abortion in America, followed by another five that explore all that abortion has encompassed since Roe: issues of violence and stigma, politics and race, medicine and law, philosophy and medicine.
Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy (1978), by James C. Mohr
Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe v. Wade (1994), by David Garrow
Before Roe v. Wade: Voices That Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling (2010), by Linda Greenhouse and Reva Siegel
Abortion & the Politics of Motherhood (1984), by Kristin Luker
Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement before Roe v. Wade (2016), by Daniel K. Williams
After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate (2015), by Mary Ziegler
Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War (1998), by James Risen and Judy L. Thomas
Abortion After Roe (2015), by Johanna Schoen
Scarlet A: The Ethics, Law, and Politics of Ordinary Abortion (2018), by Katie Watson
‘What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics (2020), by O. Carter Snead
Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Book Review, The Feminist War on Crime: The Unexpected Role of Women's Liberation in Mass Incarceration
Aziza Ahmed, Recovering Feminist Lessons from the Past for a Less Carceral Future, JOTWELL, reviewing, Aya Gruber, The Feminist War on Crime: The Unexpected Role of Women’s Liberation in Mass Incarceration (2021).
In a moment when mass incarceration, police reform, and abolition are dominating national headlines, Aya Gruber’s book, The Feminist War on Crime: The Unexpected Role of Women’s Liberation in Mass Incarceration, takes on one of the most complicated questions of the politics of policing and incarceration: gender violence. Her book provides a history of the uncomfortable relationship between the carceral state and feminist organizing to end violence against women. And, it offers a path forward that begins to address mistakes of the past by reigniting those modes of feminism focused on poverty, welfare, and race that were sidelined with the rise of what is now called “carceral feminism.”
Gruber begins her book by connecting the dots between the anti-sexual violence activism of the 19th century and today. In doing so, Gruber centers the role of race in structuring how imaginaries of sexual exploitation and violence occur. The voices of dominant groups (including white feminists) constructed the larger social narrative of sexual violence. Their ideas of sexual exploitation were shaped by the racialized ideas undergirding the political economy of the time, including the anti-immigrant sentiments of Chinese exclusion and the racist ideologies wrapped into slavery.***
Understanding our contemporary moment, and the choices activists are making in calling for criminal justice reforms, requires a sense of the past: the decisions that have come to shape contemporary anti-sexual violence organizing and what feminists could have done better. As Gruber powerfully shows, to find a path forward we cannot simply rely on the dominant feminist visions of prior moments, which often were mired in a racial and carceral feminist politics. Instead, advocates should unearth the dissenting feminist voices that long argued that it was possible to have a world free of sexual violence and without the cruelty of the carceral state
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
[T]his book explores different questions in different North American and European geographical jurisdictions and courts, demonstrating the value of a gender analysis of courts, judges, law, institutions, organizations, and, ultimately, politics. Gender and Justice argues empirically for both more women and more feminists on the bench, while demonstrating that achieving these two aims are independent projects.
"In this impressive work of seminal scholarship, Professor Kenney documents and articulates a persuasive case for the value a gender analysis of legal systems and decisions, as well as there needing more politically and judicially astute women appointed to the bench. – Library Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review
Thursday, February 17, 2022
Deborah Brake, Martha Chamallas & Verna Williams, Introduction to Oxford Handbook of Feminism and Law in the U.S., OXFORD HANDBOOK OF FEMINISM AND LAW IN THE U.S. (Deborah L. Brake, Martha Chamallas, & Verna L. Williams, eds) (Oxford University Press, 2022 Forthcoming)
Combining analyses of feminist legal theory, legal doctrine and feminist social movements, this Handbook offers a comprehensive overview of U.S. legal feminism. Contributions by leading feminist thinkers trace the impacts of legal feminism on legal claims and defenses and demonstrate how feminism has altered and transformed understandings of basic legal concepts, from sexual harassment and gender equity in sports to new conceptions of consent and motherhood. It connects legal feminism to adjacent intellectual discourses, such as masculinities theory and queer theory, and scrutinizes criticisms and backlash to feminism from all sides of the political spectrum. Its examination of the prominent brands of feminist legal theory shows the links and divergences among feminist scholars, highlighting the continued relevance of established theories (liberal, dominance and relational feminism) and the increased importance of new intersectional, sex-positive, and postmodern approaches.
Unique in its triple focus on theory, doctrine, and social movements, the Handbook recounts the history of activist struggles to pass the Equal Right Amendment, the Anti-Rape and Battered Movements of the 1970s, the contemporary movements for reproductive justice and against campus sexual assault as well as the #MeToo movement. The emphasis on theory and feminist practice animates discussions of feminist legal pedagogy and feminist influences on judges and judicial decision making. Chapters on emerging areas of law ripe for feminist analysis explore foundational subjects like contracts, tax, and tort law and imagine feminist and social justice approaches to digital privacy and intellectual property law, environmental law, and immigration law.
New Book: "Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley" -- the First Black Woman Appointed to the Federal Judiciary
New Book, Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality
The first major biography of one of our most influential judges—an activist lawyer who became the first Black woman appointed to the federal judiciary—that provides an eye-opening account of the twin struggles for gender equality and civil rights in the 20th Century.
“A must read for anyone who dares to believe that equal justice under the law is possible and is in search of a model for how to make it a reality.” —Anita Hill
Born to an aspirational blue-collar family during the Great Depression, Constance Baker Motley was expected to find herself a good career as a hair dresser. Instead, she became the first black woman to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court, the first of ten she would eventually argue. The only black woman member in the legal team at the NAACP's Inc. Fund at the time, she defended Martin Luther King in Birmingham, helped to argue in Brown vs. The Board of Education, and played a critical role in vanquishing Jim Crow laws throughout the South. She was the first black woman elected to the state Senate in New York, the first woman elected Manhattan Borough President, and the first black woman appointed to the federal judiciary.
Civil Rights Queen captures the story of a remarkable American life, a figure who remade law and inspired the imaginations of African Americans across the country. Burnished with an extraordinary wealth of research, award-winning, esteemed Civil Rights and legal historian and dean of the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Tomiko Brown-Nagin brings Motley to life in these pages. Brown-Nagin compels us to ponder some of our most timeless and urgent questions--how do the historically marginalized access the corridors of power? What is the price of the ticket? How does access to power shape individuals committed to social justice? In Civil Rights Queen, she dramatically fills out the picture of some of the most profound judicial and societal change made in twentieth-century America.
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
In this short Essay, we discuss the lack of racial and gender diversity on and around the Supreme Court. As we note, the ranks of the Court’s Justices and its clerks historically have been dominated by white men. But this homogeneity is not limited to the Court’s members or its clerks. As we explain, much of the Court’s broader ecosystem suffers from this same lack of diversity. The advocates who argue before the Court are primarily white men; the experts cited in the Court’s opinions, as well as the experts on whom Court commentators rely in interpreting those opinions, are often white men; and the commentators who translate the Court’s work for the public are also largely white men. We suggest this lack of diversity has consequences both for the Court’s work and for the public’s understanding of the Court. We also identify some of the factors that contribute to the lack of diversity in the Court’s ecosystem, including unduly narrow conceptions of expertise and a rigid insistence on particular notions of neutrality. We also note and discuss our own modest efforts to disrupt these dynamics with Strict Scrutiny, our podcast about the Supreme Court and the legal culture that surrounds it. To be sure, a podcast, by itself, will not dismantle the institutional factors that we have identified in this Essay. Nevertheless, we maintain that our efforts to use the podcast as a platform for surfacing these institutional dynamics, while simultaneously cultivating a more diverse cadre of Supreme Court experts and commentators, is a step in the right direction.
With the title derived from British feminist writer Virginia Woolf's famous essay, A Room of One's Own (1929).
All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point--a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved.
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
From Larry Solum, at the Legal Theory Blog:
The Legal Theory Bookworm recommends Intimate States: Gender, Sexuality, and Governance in Modern US History, edited by by Margot Canaday, Nancy F. Cott, & Robert O. Self. Here is a description:
Fourteen essays examine the unexpected relationships between government power and intimate life in the last 150 years of United States history.
The last few decades have seen a surge of historical scholarship that analyzes state power and expands our understanding of governmental authority and the ways we experience it. At the same time, studies of the history of intimate life—marriage, sexuality, child-rearing, and family—also have blossomed. Yet these two literatures have not been considered together in a sustained way. This book, edited and introduced by three preeminent American historians, aims to close this gap, offering powerful analyses of the relationship between state power and intimate experience in the United States from the Civil War to the present.
The fourteen essays that make up Intimate States argue that “intimate governance”—the binding of private daily experience to the apparatus of the state—should be central to our understanding of modern American history. Our personal experiences have been controlled and arranged by the state in ways we often don’t even see, the authors and editors argue; correspondingly, contemporary government has been profoundly shaped by its approaches and responses to the contours of intimate life, and its power has become so deeply embedded into daily social life that it is largely indistinguishable from society itself. Intimate States makes a persuasive case that the state is always with us, even in our most seemingly private moments.
And from the reviews:
2: The Comstock Apparatus, Jeffrey Escoffier, Whitney Strub, and Jeffrey Patrick Colgan
3: Morals, Sex, Crime, and the Legal Origins of Modern American Social Police, William J. Novak
4: The Commerce (Clause) in Sex in the Life of Lucille de Saint-André, Grace Peña Delgado
5: “Facts Which Might Be Embarrassing”: Illegitimacy, Vital Registration, and State Knowledge, Susan J. Pearson
6: Race, the Construction of Dangerous Sexualities, and Juvenile Justice, Tera Eva Agyepong
7: Eugenic Sterilization as a Welfare Policy, Molly Ladd-Taylor
8: “Land of the White Hunter”: Legal Liberalism and the Shifting Racial Ground of Morals Enforcement, Anne Gray Fischer
9: Sex Panic, Psychiatry, and the Expansion of the Carceral State, Regina Kunzel
10: The Fall of Walter Jenkins and the Hidden History of the Lavender Scare, Timothy Stewart-Winter
11: The State of Illegitimacy after the Rights Revolution, Serena Mayeri
12: What Happened to the Functional Family? Defining and Defending Alternative Households Before and Beyond Same-Sex Marriage, Stephen Vider
13: Abortion and the State after Roe, Johanna Schoen
14: The Work That Sex Does, Paisley Currah
Monday, December 20, 2021
Eloisa C. Rodriguez-Dod has compiled an edited volume of Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Property Opinions. This volume continues the tremendous momentum begun by the Feminist Judgments Project. Describing the book in a Q&A, Rodriguez-Dod explains:
This book answers the question of whether feminist perspectives and methods could change the shape of property law. A group of diverse property law scholars rewrote significant fundamental property law cases from a feminist perspective. The rewritten cases cover a broad range of property law topics, including landlord-tenant, patents, zoning, publicity rights, land titles, concurrent ownership, and takings. This book demonstrates how rewritten opinions from a feminist perspective could have made property law more just and equitable for women and marginalized groups. It also shows how property law is not neutral, but rather shaped by the society that produces it and the judges who apply it.
This volume of the feminist judgments project is likely of interest to judges, scholars, and students interested in the development of property law. The larger goals of the global project are described as:
The United States Feminist Judgments Project is part of a global collaboration of hundreds of feminist law professors who reimagine and rewrite key judicial decisions from a feminist perspective. The touchstone of the project is that the rewritten opinions must use the facts and precedent of the original opinion, but bring to the process of judging a feminist perspective that takes into account race, class, gender, disability and other status groups historically marginalized by the law. In this way, the Project seeks to show that United States jurisprudence is not objective or neutral, but rather deeply influenced by the perspectives of those who are appointed to interpret it. As a consequence, the Project also shows that previously accepted judicial outcomes were neither necessary nor inevitable, and that feminist judges could have changed the course of American jurisprudence.
Thursday, December 16, 2021
I just published The Long History of Feminist Legal Theory in the online edition of The Oxford Handbook of Feminism and Law in the United States (Deborah Brake, Martha Chamallas & Verna Williams eds. Nov. 2021).
The conventional idea is that feminist legal theory began in the 1970s, in the second-wave feminist movement. However, the foundations of feminist legal theory were first conceptualized much earlier, in 1848, and developed over the next century and a half through distinct periods of thought. That development began with the establishment of the core theoretical precepts of gender and equality grounded in the comprehensive philosophy of the nineteenth-century’s first women’s rights movement ignited at Seneca Falls. Feminist legal theory was popularized and advanced by the political activism of the women’s suffrage movement, even as suffragists limited the feminist consensus to one based on women’s maternalism. Progressive feminism then expanded the theoretical framework of feminist theory in the early twentieth century, encapsulating ideas of global peace, market work, and sex rights of birth control. In the modern era, legal feminists gravitated back to pragmatic and concrete ideas of formal equality and the associated legalisms of equal rights and equal protection. Yet through each of these periods, the two common imperatives were to place women at the center of analysis and to recognize law as a fundamental agent of change.
An earlier (non-paywall) version is available here: The Long History of Feminist Legal Theory (SSRN).