Monday, January 4, 2021

Professor Balkin Edits Book on Obergefell v. Hodges

Obergefell v. Hodges decision at SCOTUS

A crowd gathers at the U.S. Supreme Court after its ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states was delivered on June 26, 2015. Rena Schild/

In his new book, What Obergefell v. Hodges Should Have Said: The Nation’s Top Legal Experts Rewrite America’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision (Yale University Press), Professor Jack M. Balkin and an all-star cast of legal scholars rewrite the Supreme Court’s landmark gay rights decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which held that same-sex couples have the right to marry. The book features 11 opinions from authors who argue both for and against the constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

In addition to serving as Chief Justice of this imaginary Supreme Court, Balkin provides an extensive critical introduction to the case. He recounts the story of the gay rights litigation that ultimately led to Obergefell, explaining how courts respond to political mobilizations for new rights claims. Balkin argues that the social movement for gay rights and marriage equality is one of the most important recent examples of how legal arguments that were once dismissed as “off-the-wall” can later become established in American constitutional law through political struggle and legal imagination.

Contributors to the book include Helen M. Alvaré, John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence William N. Eskridge Jr. ’78, Katherine Franke ’93 LL.M. ’98 J.S.D., Robert P. George, Sherif Girgis ’16, John C. Harrison ’80, Andrew Koppelman ’89, Melissa Murray ’02, Anne Urowsky Professor of Law Douglas NeJaime, Catherine Smith, Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Professor of Law Reva B. Siegel, and Jeremy Waldron.

Balkin is the Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School. He is the founder and director of Yale’s Information Society Project, an interdisciplinary center that studies law and new information technologies. He also directs the Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression, and the Knight Law and Media Program at Yale.