Courts, Liberalism, and Rights: Gay Law and Politics in the United States and Canada

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Temple University Press, 2005 - Law - 264 pages
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In the courts, the best chance for achieving a broad set of rights for gays and lesbians lies with judges who view liberalism as grounded in an expansion of rights rather than a constraint of government activity. At a time when most gay and lesbian politics focuses only on the issue of gay marriage, Courts, Liberalism, and Rights guides readers through a nuanced discussion of liberalism, court rulings on sodomy laws and same-sex marriage, and the comparative progress gays and lesbians have made via the courts in Canada. As debates continue about the ability of courts to affect social change, Jason Pierceson argues that this is possible. He claims that the greatest opportunity for reform via the judiciary exists when a judiciary with broad interpretive powers encounters a political culture that endorses a form of liberalism based on broadly conceived individual rights; not a negative set of rights to be held against the state, but a set of rights that recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of every individual.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
US Federal Courts and Gay Rights A History of Hesitancy
21
Liberalism and Gay Politics Rights and Their Critics
33
Toward a Better Liberalism
49
Sodomy Laws Courts and Liberalism
62
Lessons from Continued Sodomy Adjudication
77
Courts and SameSex Marriage in the United States Hawaii and Alaska
104
Courts and SameSex Marriage in the United States Vermont
130
An Evolving Jurisprudence and Its Backlash
144
Canada Rethinking Courts Rights and Liberalism
165
Courts Social Change and the Power of Legal Liberalism
187
Conclusion
195
Notes
199
Index
247
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About the author (2005)

Jason Pierceson is Assistant Professor of Political and Legal Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

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