Many of the leading constitutional issues of our day implicate family law matters. Modern substantive due process is replete with questions of family law. Griswold v. Connecticut, Eisenstadt v. Baird, Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and Lawrence v. Texas raise issues of family formation, intimate relationships, and reproductive decision making. Loving v. Virginia, Zablocki v. Redhail, and Turner v. Safley address the contours of marriage. Moore v. City of East Cleveland protects the extended family. Stanley v. Illinois, Lehr v. Robertson, and Michael H. v. Gerald D. consider the rights of unmarried fathers. Troxel v. Granville protects a parent's childrearing decisions. Modern equal protection law, too, features a significant number of family law issues. A string of cases beginning in the late 1960s extends rights to nonmarital parent-child relationships. Leading sex equality decisions dating back to the 1970s render rights and responsibilities regarding marriage and childrearing formally gender neutral. Most recently, decisions on the rights of samesex couples to marry-namely, United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges-recognize the families formed by gays and lesbians on grounds of equal protection and due process. These cases are thought to represent a relatively straightforward account of the relationship between family law and constitutional law.
Date of Authorship for this Version
NeJaime, Douglas, "The Family's Constitution" (2017). Faculty Scholarship Series. 5226.