Women’s and LGBTQ Social Movements and Constitutional Change -- On Geoffrey Stone’s Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion, and Law from America’s Origins to the Twenty-First Century
Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies, Forthcoming
24 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2019 Last revised: 6 Aug 2020
Date Written: June 7, 2019
This essay reviews Geoffrey Stone’s “Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion, and Law from America’s Origins to the Twenty-First Century.” Part I offers a synopsis of the treatise to make it accessible to the general public. Stone’s over 600-page book reviews the regulation of sex in the ancient cultures of the Greeks, Romans, and ancient Hebrews. It later discusses the evolution of the regulation of sex in Christianity and the English common law. Stone then focuses specifically on US regulation of obscenity, contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage to portray a story of progress with a warning that much of this progress depends on the composition of the Supreme Court. Part II reveals the unintended contribution of Sex and the Constitution to the literature with respect to the ways social movements may bring about constitutional change outside the formal process defined in the Constitution for amendment. Though Stone did not make it an explicit theme of the book, I derive from the book the conditions necessary to bring about constitutional change. Part III offers some critical reflections on the book.
Keywords: LGBTQ, feminism, constitutional revolution, social movements, sex, gender, religion, comparative constitutional law, contraception, reproductive rights, obscenity, same-sex marriage, abortion
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