This week we feature new work on the rhetoric of US Supreme Court opinions; a comparative study of same-sex unions; more specific studies of polygamy and gay marriage; the legal status of women in Pakistan; and claims of religious accommodation in the workplace.
1. Steven Douglas Smith (University of San Diego), The Jurisprudence of Denigration: Smith reflects on Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in United States v. Windsor (2013). Specifically, he criticizes Kennedy’s claim in the opinion that supporters of Section 3 of DOMA acted from a a “purpose…to demean,” “to injure,” and “to disparage.” He concludes that this type of denigrating jurisprudence reflects more general patterns in constitutional and moral discourse, in which “the only kind of admissible and potentially persuasive argument is one that attacks the character or motives of one’s opponent.”
2. W. Cole Durham (BYU), Robert Theron Smith (BYU), William C. Duncan (Marriage Law Foundation), A Comparative Analysis of Laws Pertaining to Same-Sex Unions: The authors survey various countries’ approach to the regulation of same-sex unions, and they argue that, as to those countries that recognize same-sex unions, legal change through legislative processes has certain advantages over legal change through the courts.
3. Danièle Hervieu-Léger (French National Center for Scientific Research & Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) and Janet Bennion (Lyndon State College), The Meanings of Marriage in the West: Law, Religion and ‘Nature’: Both authors discuss the sense in which law rejects “natural” conceptions of marriage. Bennion focuses on polygamous communities in Montana, Utah, and Mexico. She “reject[s] the notion that polygamy is uniformly abusive, anti-feminist, and dysfunctional.” Hervieu-Léger instead focuses on gay marriage. She is puzzled by, and criticizes, “the way in which the Catholic Church (by which I refer to its institutional representatives) has tried to use this debate to reassert its normative capacity within the public sphere.”
4. Zia Ullah Ranjah (International Islamic University–Islamabad) & Shahbaz Ahmad Cheema (University of the Punjab), Protection of Legal Status of Women in Pakistan: An Analysis of the Role of the Supreme Court: The authors discuss the function of the Supreme Court of Pakistan within Pakistan’s constitutional structure and the court’s role in protecting the rights of women, offering various recommendations.
5. Dallan Flake (BYU), Image is Everything: Corporate Branding and Religious Accommodation in the Workplace: Flake claims that courts should more closely scrutinize claims of religious accommodation within the workplace “because a company’s image is one of its most valuable assets.” Among his recommendations are that courts reject claims of accommodation if they impose anything more than de minimis burdens on employers and that they defer more broadly to the employers’ interest.