Shotguns, Weddings, and Lunch Counters: Why Cultural Frames Matter to Constitutional Law
49 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2010 Last revised: 11 Mar 2012
Date Written: August 19, 2010
Drawing from social movement theory, this article shows that both the constitutional challenge to gun bans in Illinois and the constitutional challenge to California’s same-sex marriage ban have had to deal with issues of frame alignment similar to those confronted by the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Yet, it is the Second Amendment litigation, ironically, that has most closely followed the movement’s attention to aligning legal claims with cultural trends. Out of this analysis emerges a larger claim that the analytics of frame alignment, and social movement theory generally, deserves more attention by constitutional scholars, both as a uniform analytic for comparing divergent reform agendas, and for better understanding the central role of cultural frames in determining the parameters of constitutional rights.
Keywords: civil rights, constitutional law, second amendment, 2nd amendment, same-sex marriage, Olsen, Sullivan, Wechsler, Marshall, marriage, free speech, culture, guns
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