Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Democratic ConstitutionExperimentalism and Interpretation$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Brian E. Butler

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226474502

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226474649.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

Brown and Obergefell: Two Positive Precedents?

Brown and Obergefell: Two Positive Precedents?

(p.151) Chapter Seven Brown and Obergefell: Two Positive Precedents?
The Democratic Constitution

Brian E. Butler

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 7 analyzes two cases generally thought of as exemplary of the Supreme Court protecting or even progressively expanding civil rights protected under the Constitution. Brown and Obergefell are thought of by liberal theorists as examples of the Court getting things right. Of course they are also thought of as not grounded in the Constitution by conservative legal theorists. Brown famously overruled the “separate but equal” doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson. Obergefell found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Interestingly, though the results are disputed by legal theorists, they are also thought by both sides of the debate to be examples of the Court properly understanding its role as supreme interpreter of the Constitution. This chapter challenges that interpretation. It presents Brown as an information-rich decision that exemplifies much that is required of democratic experimentalism. It presents Obergefell as arriving at the correct legal conclusion, but through a roundabout way that could have been better justified if the Court utilized the jurisprudence of democratic experimentalism. Posner’s opinion, Baskin v. Bogan is offered as a better option.

Keywords:   Brown v. Board of Education, Obergefell, Plessy v. Ferguson, separate but equal, same-sex marriage, Posner, Baskin v. Bogan

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.