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Disestablishing the Family


Alice Ristroph


Seton Hall University - School of Law

Melissa Murray


University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

November 15, 2011

Yale Law Journal Vol. 119, pp. 1236, 2010
UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 1567867

Abstract:     
This Essay explores what it would mean to disestablish the family. It examines a particular theory of religious disestablishment, one that emphasizes institutional pluralism and the importance of competing sources of authority, and argues that this model of church-state relationships has much to teach us about family-state relationships. Though substantial rights to what might be called "free exercise of the family" have been recognized in American constitutional doctrine, at present there is no parallel principle of familial disestablishment. The state is free to regulate families qua families, and to encourage or discourage certain kinds of familial relationships. This Essay suggests reasons to rethink these existing familial establishments. Disestablishment is a risky and unpredictable enterprise, but its risks may be the risks inherent in liberty.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 44

Keywords: family, criminal law, marriage, establishment, polygamy, free exercise

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Date posted: March 11, 2010 ; Last revised: November 16, 2011

Suggested Citation

Ristroph, Alice and Murray, Melissa, Disestablishing the Family (November 15, 2011). Yale Law Journal Vol. 119, pp. 1236, 2010; UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 1567867. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1567867

Contact Information

Alice Ristroph
Seton Hall University - School of Law ( email )
One Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102-5210
United States
(973) 642-8811 (Phone)
(973) 642-8194 (Fax)
Melissa Murray (Contact Author)
University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )
215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
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