(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
At a time when the role of the Supreme Court is again in the headlines, following its ruling upholding Obamacare, Harvard Law School's Klarman does a remarkable job using the debate over gay marriage as a lens for examining the factors that will go into the Court's inevitable engagement with the issue. Klarman (From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality) effectively conveys the history of the issue, from the 1950s to 2012, and provides just enough detail to allow lay readers to emerge with an informed understanding of the twisted path same-sex marriage has taken. Unfamiliar readers are likely to be surprised by how recently the cause landed on the national gay rights agenda, and will be intrigued by the debates within the gay community about the wisdom of pursuing such a goal. (Some viewed all marriage as part of a "patriarchal system," while others viewed it as an abandonment of "transforming the very fabric of society" by becoming mainstream.) Klarman repeatedly refers to the role of popular culture in shaping public opinion toward gays in general, and discusses how such shifts influence court rulings. Advocates will be encouraged by his well-buttressed conclusion: "Once public opinion has shifted overwhelmingly in favor. the Court will constitutionalize the emerging consensus." (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Klarman (Harvard Law School) examines the cost of and opportunities created by pursuing social change through the courts. He covers the familiar story of gay or equal marriage from the 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court decision Baehr v. Miike through the backlash "defense of marriage" acts at the state and federal levels to debate over state protection and federal court action in favor of equal marriage. He does not need much more than the full story to raise questions about the strategy of litigation. Although he sees equal marriage as inevitable, he also notes the costs to US politics generally and to the civil union alternative due to entrenched resistance in many parts of the US. Klarman accurately predicts US Supreme Court action and discusses the pivotal role that he sees Justice Anthony Kennedy taking. This and evenhanded coverage make the book particularly timely even for an issue that is evolving very quickly. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. J. Brigham University of Massachusetts Amherst