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Common and Uncommon Families and the American Constitutional Order

PDF · Linda C. McClain · Feb-13-2014 · 67 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc 19 (2014)

McClain_Common and Uncommon Families-1

Reviewed: MARK E. BRANDON, STATES OF UNION: FAMILY AND CHANGE IN THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER (University Press of Kansas, 2013).

In States of Union: Family and Change in the American Constitutional Order, Professor Mark Brandon challenges some common understandings about the intersection of law and family in the United States. This Book Review examines Brandon’s historical work in the broader context of current debates about which family forms should be sanctioned by governments. Professor Linda McClain explores Brandon’s vivid sketches of the different models of families throughout U.S. history and how each interacted with federal, state, and local governments. The Review concludes by quoting a memorable passage from States of Union that sums up one of Brandon’s central themes: “[T]he history of family in the United States–and of how it came to be in the Constitution–has been a story of change and contestation. . . . America has always been a place for experiments and for diverse ways of life.”



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