Vol. 28 No. 2 (April 2018) pp. 25-26

RAISED RIGHT: FATHERHOOD IN MODERN AMERICAN CONSERVATISM, by Jeffrey R. Dudas. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2017. 207pp. Cloth $24.95. ISBN: 9781503600188.

Reviewed by Anna Kirkland, Department of Women’s Studies, University of Michigan. Email: akirklan@umich.edu.

Fathers and paternal authority are ubiquitous references in conservative political and social thought. Conservatives pay homage to the founding fathers in originalist constitutional interpretation, locate family breakdown in fathers’ abandonment, and seek to bolster little girls’ self-esteem with father-daughter dances. In RAISED RIGHT: FATHERHOOD IN MODERN AMERICAN CONSERVATISM, Jeffrey Dudas argues that fatherhood is far more than a popular hortatory point of reference for political conservatism. It provides an explanation for how such a diverse set of people and ideas have held together politically with such effectiveness for so long. Paternal rights discourse is, he argues, “both [conservatism’s] unifying principle and the primary means by which it covers over its scar tissue” (p. 38). Dudas elaborates on what he means by scar tissue later in the conclusion, observing that “paternal rights discourse . . . constitutes national heroes and enemies; it identifies and orients action against supposedly heteronomous, immature, and subversive people and, in so doing, guilds the fractious tendencies at American conservatism’s core by giving its most devoted practitioners something to believe in” (p. 134). Both religious conservatives and libertarians can agree (for quite different reasons) that single mothers who need social goods such as paid maternity leave or child care support are deviant failures and that a strong father in the home is the best fix.

Dudas constructs the core of his argument based on an analysis of the lives and writings of three of the most iconic and celebrated conservatives: William F. Buckley, Jr., Ronald Reagan, and Clarence Thomas. He extends his argument to analyze the internal tensions within conservatism that also run through the troubled relationships of its heroes with their own fathers, who were repressive, distant, and cruel even as their adult sons define their presence as required for growth into a mature citizen. Dudas argues that an essential conservative assumption is that democratic citizenship requires that children be raised with strong paternal authority coupled with weak maternal authority. In other words, children must both submit to paternal authority but then become self-disciplining. Failures of this process include feminized, narcissistic “snowflakes” who want safe spaces, women who want the government to be their husband, and effete left-wing men who eschew their traditional role. Conservatives see individual rights as having been hijacked by the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, made infantile and coddling, and thus in need of return to the concepts of rights set up by the Founding Fathers. But how, Dudas asks, does the submission to paternal authority end when it is set up to be so complete and total? As he puts it, isn’t it sad to live with this “bone-deep desire for order, stability, and coherence in a world that appears to the afflicted as unstable, out-of-control—a living hell of proliferating, over-determined meanings” (pp. 137-38)? Thus the conservative desire for the dominating father figure is also hopelessly lost in an imagined past, best recapitulated through the private family and gender relations, but always flailing against the changes and variations of the United States we actually inhabit, together, today. RAISED RIGHT, as should be clear by now, is highly critical of conservatism and its commitments, but also acutely sensitive to feelings that Dudas skillfully draws out from his close readings: loss, fear, dissolution, and melancholy. These emotions are not possible for conservatives themselves to acknowledge under paternal rights discourse, and they can only be drawn out by a critical yet highly attentive scholar.


Vol. 28 No. 2 (April 2018) pp. 23-24

GERRYMANDERING IN AMERICA: THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THE SUPREME COURT, AND THE FUTURE OF POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY, by Anthony J. McGann, Charles Anthony Smith, Michael Latner, and Alex Keena. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016. 272pp.

Reviewed by Robin E. Best, Department of Political Science, Binghamton University (SUNY). Email: rbest@binghamton.edu.

With the Supreme Court hearing partisan gerrymandering cases for the first time in over a decade, it is difficult to imagine a better time to read the comprehensive treatment of partisan gerrymandering in GERRYMANDERING IN AMERICA: THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THE SUPREME COURT, AND THE FUTURE OF POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY. This book provides a thorough discussion of the causes and consequences of partisan bias in contemporary congressional districts, focusing on the political motivations behind partisan gerrymanders, the constitutional context for partisan gerrymandering, and the general implications of partisan gerrymandering for the organization of American democracy.

A major theme of the book is the attribution of partisan bias in current congressional districts to the political means and motives of state politicians. The authors argue that VIETH V. JUBELIRER (2004) effectively removed the possibility of challenging a districting plan on partisan grounds and, in doing so, provided states with free reign to engage in partisan gerrymandering. The Court’s decision in VIETH is situated within a broader constitutional context in Chapter 2, where it is presented as a backtracking of vote equality standards and a relative reversal of the Court’s position in previous partisan gerrymandering cases. The primary empirical findings are delivered in Chapter 3, where the authors employ a well-known symmetry measure of partisan bias (Gelman and King 1994) to show that bias in favor of the Republican Party has increased since the VIETH decision both nationally and in state-level districting plans. Although the authors find plenty of partisan bias already present in 2002-2010 congressional districts, this bias becomes more pervasive and pronounced in favor of the Republican Party under the new districts used in 2012.

Can we attribute this partisan bias to the political motives of state representatives? In Chapters 4 and 5 the authors do precisely this. Through careful analysis they eliminate three rival explanations for the presence of partisan bias in congressional districting plans: the natural geographic concentration of Democrats in urban areas, the need to draw majority-minority districts, and advancements in the technology used to create districting plans. Rather, they demonstrate that partisan bias follows the patterns one would expect if political motives were at work. The authors show the presence of bias in states where one party controlled the districting process and could benefit from a partisan districting plan, as well as an increase in bias across the two sets of districting plans in states where the same – almost always Republican – party controlled the districting process. Although it is difficult to disentangle the effects of the Court’s decision in VIETH from other political motivations, it is clear that the political circumstances of the districting plans drawn after the 2010 census allowed and encouraged Republican-led state governments to draw congressional district lines to their own advantage. A remaining question is whether partisan bias is also found in the districting plans used to elect the state legislators who draw congressional district lines. The presence of such bias would only serve to bolster the authors’ findings.


Vol. 28 No. 2 (April 2018) pp. 19-22

RECLAIMING ACCOUNTABILITY: TRANSPARENCY, EXECUTIVE POWER, AND THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, by Heidi Kitrosser. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2015. 283pp. Cloth $45.00. ISBN: 978-0-226-19163-8. Paper $36.00. ISBN: 978-0-226-56567-5.

Reviewed by Mark A. Graber, University of Maryland Carey School of Law. Email: mgraber@law.umaryland.edu

Once upon a time during the halcyon days before the 2016 national election, Americans debated the nature of presidential power. Most Democrats found persuasive justifications when President William Clinton and Barack Obama exercised presidential power, but not when Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush exercised presidential power. Most Republicans found persuasive the justifications Reagan, Bush I and Bush II gave for exercising presidential power, but not the reasons Clinton and Obama gave. A few scholars, most notably Eric Posner and Adrian Vermeuele (2011), offered bipartisan defenses of unilateral presidential power. A few scholars, most notably Louis Fisher (2014), offered bipartisan criticisms of unilateral presidential power.

RECLAIMING ACCOUNTABILITY is a powerful, bipartisan manifesto for those worried about increasing presidential power to withhold information from the general public. Kirtosser offers a strong defense of what she terms “substantive accountability.” Proponents of formal accountability emphasize public capacity to remove officials whom popular majorities conclude are not performing their duties. Officials are constitutionally accountable when they must stand for regular election. Substantive accountability, Kitrosser maintains, requires that the public has the information necessary to make an intelligent decision on whether public officials should be held accountable. Under this framework, officials are constitutionally accountable when their actions and the justifications for their actions are known to the public. “The public and other branches of government must” not only “have the means to respond to presidential misdeeds,” she points out, but “the public and the other branches must have mechanisms to discover and assess such misdeeds in the first place” (p. 15). RECLAIMING ACCOUNTABILITY details how proponents of presidential supremacy and the unitary executive undermine presidential accountability by proposing doctrines that deprive the public of necessary information to make decisions on presidential performance.

Kitrosser favors what she calls “macro-transparency,” which is the idea that presidents should be allowed to keep secrets only when federal law permits or at least does not forbid the secret (p. 45). Presidents may refrain from divulging how suspected terrorists are being interrogated when Congress has by statute declared the matter classified. However, presidents may not claim the power to violate federal law and the power to keep that violation a secret from Congress and the general public. When Congress declares that suspected terrorists may not be tortured, the president may not authorize torture and certainly may not insist that evidence of torture be classified so that no one knows the president is not implementing a congressional program. This distinction between “shallow secrets” (p. 53), secrets the public knows exist, even though the public does not know the content of the secret, and “deep secrets” (p. 53), secrets the public does not know exist, is crucial to substantive accountability and what Kitrousser calls “contained (executive) energy” (p. 47). Congress may empower the president to engage in substantial independent activity and keep numerous secrets as long as federal law known to voters empowers the president to act independently and authorizes the president to keep particular secrets.


Vol. 28 No. 2 (April 2018) pp. 16-18

COMMON LAW JUDGING: SUBJECTIVITY, IMPARTIALITY, AND THE MAKING OF THE LAW, by Douglas E. Edlin. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2016, 262pp. Hardcover $75.00. ISBN 978-0-472-13002-3.

Reviewed by Michael A. Dichio, Department of Political Science & Philosophy, Fort Lewis College. Email: madichio@fortlewis.edu.

Early on in my American Supreme Court class, I assign my students a response paper based on their viewing of a C-SPAN interview with a Supreme Court justice. Each paper—regardless of the justice my students select—describes virtually the same refrain: “As a justice, I am neutral and objective; the Court only applies and interprets the law.” This trope has long frustrated me because scholars and practitioner alike know it is false, but nevertheless it persists. Douglas Edlin’s COMMON LAW JUDGING: SUBJECTIVITY, IMPARTIALITY, AND THE MAKING OF LAW strikes at the heart of this falsity in a thought-provoking and creative way. Integrating Kantian aesthetic theory, case law in the United States and United Kingdom, and legal theory, Edlin argues that not only is the neutral, objective “ideal judge” non-existent; he asserts that judges incorporating their personal beliefs when judging is a good thing. Edlin calls on scholars, citizens and politicians to “move beyond thinking of the ideal judge as someone who suspends her own personal experiences and values and perspectives so that she can judge from a place of abstract neutrality and objectivity” (p. 110).

Edlin maintains at the very beginning of the book that society has understood and evaluated judges incorrectly; they do not dispassionately apply and interpret law. The overall aim of his book proposes an alternative to the “objective law or subjective preference trope” (p. 4). To move us beyond these tropes, Edlin begins by clarifying subjectivity and objectivity. Although the former has long been considered a vice while the latter a virtue in judging, he notes that these concepts should not be seen in “oppositional terms” (p. 25). He operates from the premise that common law judicial process is “irreducibly and inescapably subjective,” and, thus, his chief purpose “is to explain that subjectivity in judging, properly understood, does not threaten the objectivity of law, properly understood” (pp. 4-5). The heart of the book develops a framework based on Kantian aesthetic theory to capture the nature of common law judging accurately. Edlin’s conceptual framework allows us to merge individual subjectivity with the objectivity of well-defined forms of legal argument and sources that judges then communicate to a broader audience who subsequently “evaluates and validates” the judge’s opinion (p. 113). By using Kantian aesthetic judgement to understand common law judging, Edlin maintains that we can avoid “the misguided and widespread view that the subjective element of judging somehow compromises the integrity of the process or the decision” (p. 17). This Kantian framework also makes room for “a dynamic process of evaluating judgements in a community” (p. 28). Edlin seeks to move us away from evaluating judgments as either subjective (“commonly known today as legal realism”) or strongly objective (that judges discover “the true meaning of law”) (p. 111). For Edlin, this long-held dichotomy falls short of reality. Since “law and the judicial process are human creations” (p. 112), judges do not engage in strongly objective or subjective behavior but rather practice “mediated objectivism” where the meaning of a law “is determined through a process of considered judgement by a community that has particular training or expertise in formulating and evaluating judgments of this type” (p. 10). Thus, Edlin proposes a framework based in the reality of common law judging.


Vol. 28 No. 1 (February 2018) pp. 13-15

EMINENT DOMAIN: A COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE, by Iljoong Kim, Hojun Lee, and Ilya Somin (eds.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017. 316pp. Hardback $110.00. ISBN: 978-1-107-17729-1. Paperback $35.99. ISBN: 978-1-316-62833-1

Reviewed by Thomas J. Miceli, Department of Economics, University of Connecticut. E-mail: thomas.miceli@uconn.edu.

The proper scope of a government’s use of its eminent domain power has been the subject of much debate in recent years. The debate was rekindled in the United States by the Supreme Court’s ruling in KELO V. CITY OF NEW LONDON (545 U.S. 469, 2005), which reaffirmed the ability of local governments to take private property for large-scale urban redevelopment projects provided that there was a discernable public benefit, such as the creation of jobs and enhanced tax revenues. The specific issue in dispute concerned the proper interpretation of the “public use” requirement of the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause. KELO followed previous case law by expanding public use to include any “public purpose,” thereby broadening the scope of eminent domain to encompass actions that involved spillover public benefits, even if the principal beneficiary was a private entity. In the wake of KELO many states responded to this perceived overuse of eminent domain by enacting laws that prohibit so-called “development takings.” The current book contributes to this debate by adding a comparative perspective through review of the takings policies in several countries and legal systems. This is a welcome addition to the literature that will be of wide interest to those who study the eminent domain issue.

The editors frame the debate with an introduction that identifies “six pillars” of takings law: (1) the public interest requirement; (2) permitted users (“subjects”) of eminent domain; (3) the just compensation requirement; (4) due process; (5) distribution of the development surplus; and (6) dispute resolution. These pillars can actually be boiled down to three fundamental factors. The first concerns the scope of takings, which encompasses both the public use (public purpose/public interest) requirement—that is, what sorts of projects justify the use of eminent domain—and the permitted users (pillars one and two). The issue here concerns whether eminent domain should be limited to the provision of true public goods, which are typically provided by the government and whose benefits cannot be denied to anyone, or whether it should also be available to private developers who face holdout problems or other impediments to land assembly. The academic literature is divided on this issue, depending on how public use/interest is defined. In his chapter on takings in the U.S., for example, Ilya Somin distinguishes between the “narrow” view (takings permitted exclusively for public goods or common carriers like railroads), and the “broad” view (takings permitted for any project, public or private, in which a conceivable public purpose can be identified). KELO clearly embodies the latter.

The second factor concerns the amount of compensation that condemnees should receive, which encompasses pillars three and five. Compensation in most countries is typically set at fair market value, but it is widely acknowledged that this measure undercompensates landowners because it excludes “subjective value,” defined to be the amount that owners value their land in excess of what a willing buyer would pay for it. In addition, there is the question of whether landowners should share in the surplus created by the taking. In a consensual transaction, the seller would not only be assured of full compensation for her subjective value (for otherwise she would walk away from the deal), she would also have the ability to negotiate for a share of the expected gain from the proposed use of the land. Eminent domain laws nearly universally deny owners any such share. [*14]

The third factor concerns the procedural rules by which the taking actually occurs, encompassing both the period during which the terms of the taking are set (pillar four), and the process by which condemnees can appeal the decision after it has been made (pillar six). In evaluating these three factors from a law-and-economics perspective, it is important to keep in mind two key points. First, that there is a good economic justification for the use of coercive transfers—namely, to overcome market failures due to holdouts or other transaction costs that would result in underprovision of public goods like highways, as well as large-scale economic development projects. Second, the collective purpose of the legal safeguards surrounding the use of eminent domain is meant to replicate as closely as possible the conditions that would prevail in a consensual market transaction.


Vol. 28 No. 1 (February 2018) pp. 7-12

CONTESTED JUSTICE: THE POLITICS AND PRACTICE OF INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT INTERVENTIONS, by Christian De Vos, Sara Kendall and Carsten Stahn (eds). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 526pp. Hardback $140.00. ISBN: 978-1-107-07653-2. Open Access $0.00. ISBN: 978-1-139-92452-8.

Reviewed by Chris Kendall, Department of Politics and Government, University of Puget Sound. Email: ckendall@pugetsound.edu.

The year 2002 represents a turning point in the evolution of international criminal law. In that year, the sixtieth state ratified the Rome Statute, bringing into being the International Criminal Court (ICC). For the first time, a permanent tribunal with an independent prosecutor would investigate and prosecute crimes of concern to the international community, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and the (at the time still undefined) crime of aggression. Fifteen years later, scholars, lawyers, and activists are still debating the merits and pitfalls of such an ambitious project. CONTESTED JUSTICE is the most recent contribution to this debate, and one of the best. Drawing on more than a decade of the Court’s actual functioning, this volume succeeds in its goal of moving beyond a Hague-centered, hermeneutic account of international criminal law’s doctrinal development toward a broader critique of the ICC’s interactions with the societies in which it intervenes.

Contestation is the name of the game in this volume, and the domains of contestation are vast, nuanced, and intermingled: law/politics, retributive/restorative justice, prosecution/peace, international/local, victims/perpetrators, victims/non-victims, society/state. This volume demonstrates that the ICC is a field of “contested justice” not just in the legal sense, but also in the form of domestic and international political contestation.

Two themes emerge from this complex web. First, the ICC is not merely international in the traditional sense of “interstate.” Rather, it represents a global force that attempts to achieve compliance with international norms while claiming to embrace domestic diversity and the needs of the local. Second, the ICC is not just a criminal court. It increasingly seeks to move beyond a legalistic, retributivist, prosecutorial approach to criminal law toward a more politically-informed, restorative, transitional-justice model of conflict resolution. These two themes are themselves intertwined. Post-conflict societies are often unable or unwilling to adopt whole-heartedly a prosecutorial approach to justice, and the ICC (predictably) lacks the institutional expertise or bandwidth to fully meet the needs of diverse, fractured societies. The ICC—and the entire liberal internationalist endeavor atop which it sits—remains in precarious equipoise, held in place by these tensions.

The volume’s authors address these tensions from multiple disciplines (anthropology, political science, sociology, law) while drawing on a wealth of professional expertise (academics, lawyers, NGO activists, and intergovernmental organization officials). This diversity of inputs underscores the volume’s impressive coherence. Collectively, the editors and authors have produced an engaging, nuanced debate with multiple points of entry to a fascinating topic.


Vol. 28 No. 1 (February 2018) pp. 4-6
HOW TO DO THINGS WITH INTERNATIONAL LAW, by Ian Hurd. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2017. 187pp. Cloth $29.95. ISBN: 978-069-1170114.

Reviewed by Amber Vayo, Department of Political Science, the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Email: avayo@polsci.umass.edu.

Ian Hurd’s HOW TO DO THINGS WITH INTERNATIONAL LAW makes a compelling intervention in the arena of law and politics. Rather than accept the philosophical constraints of either IR realists or liberals, Hurd takes an instrumentalist view of international law that pulls from many schools of thought. Using a series of cases to illustrate his argument, Hurd brings a refreshing pragmatism to the discussion of what international law is by exploring it as part of international power politics rather than a neutral force which treats all state actors equally. In addition, Hurd brings in a good bit of legal philosophy cleverly concealed beneath a practical guide to understanding international power politics, and it works. By side-stepping disciplinary constraints, Hurd creates a provocative book that should find favor among interdisciplinary readers, especially those in IR and in law and society.

While unmasking the power dynamic inherent in international law could churn out a cynical pessimism, Hurd maintains a fairly non-biased—and at times hopeful—explanation of how law works. Abandoning the view that law is somehow a neutral force that is self-enforcing, he claims that “international law is properly seen…as a social practice in which states and others engage” (p. 2). His boldest claim is that “we cannot get away with assumptions of inherently superior, apolitical rule following” (p. 3). In addition to conceptualizing the social process of law, Hurd draws out the ways in which “the instrumental use of law to legitimize state policy is ubiquitous” (p. 5) by using contemporary cases such as the ban on war, the rules regarding nuclear weapons and drones, and the use of torture. The clarity and organization throughout the first three chapters, in which Hurd lays out his introduction and primary philosophical and methodological underpinnings, are common throughout the book. While each chapter is set up in a way that makes stand-alone reading easy (useful for excerpting), discussion of the permissive effects of law becomes a little repetitive by the sixth chapter.

Throughout his cases, Hurd explores different, interrelated conceptions of law through concrete examples. He first confronts the reality that wars, while illegal under international law, have been quite common since the end of the Second World War, and addresses the issues as a matter of law’s political power. He claims the UN Charter, “facilitates the use of force by providing self-defense as an iron-clad legal justification” (p. 51). When rule following becomes the validation of a state’s legitimacy, one does not get better outcomes; rather, as Hurd demonstrates, one finds a way to justify behavior as compliant with agreed upon rules (even if interpretation of those rules is contentious). This is the strongest case study where he outlines the permissive and constraining effects of law and links those effects back to the political process. While international law should constrain states from making war (and in theory, strong laws would constrain strong states), Hurd notes that the “self-defense” justification has given rise to a permissive effect on a country’s ability to engage in armed conflict (if not officially declared war).

Hurd posits that what counts as justification for war—not only existential threats, but dangers to state interests—creates permissive effects that in practice can bring war back to a statist conception where the “strong may do as they will” as long as they give the appearance of good faith negotiation with the rules. However, according to Hurd, this does not undercut law’s sovereignty because the justification undertaken, including by strong states, uses legal language and the legal process. Here, the sovereignty of law is not in international law’s ability to [*5] constrain actors, but in the ubiquity of legal and quasi-legal justifications to which states turn for legitimacy. Law is sovereign because it has become a necessary part of international political discourse. The need to justify one’s actions in terms of legality, then, meets Hurd’s criteria for law’s sovereignty even when states are acting in blatant self-interests and only paying lip service to laws. The core of Hurd’s theory is that law may not constrain as it intended, but violating the spirit of the law is not enough to disempower the rule of law. Further, Hurd’s theory accepts the differences between international and domestic law, and it contends that international law cannot be expected to function in the same way as domestic law (e.g., lack of enforcement, differing treaty obligations).


Vol. 28 No 1 (February 2018) pp. 1-3

BEYOND MARRIAGE: CONTINUING BATTLES FOR LGBT RIGHTS, by Susan Gluck Mezey. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. 320pp. Cloth: $70.00. ISBN: 978-1-4422-4862-5. Paper: $35.00. ISBN: 978-1-4422-4864-9.

Reviewed by Brian DiSarro, Department of Political Science, Sacramento State University. Email: disarrob@csus.edu.

Susan Gluck Mezey’s latest work, BEYOND MARRIAGE: CONTINUING BATTLES FOR LGBT RIGHTS, represents the continuation of her scholarship at the nexus of judicial politics, constitutional law, and the LGBTQ rights movement. Previously the author of QUEERS IN COURT: GAY RIGHTS LAW AND PUBLIC POLICY (2007) and GAY FAMILIES AND THE COURTS: THE QUEST FOR EQUAL RIGHTS (2009), BEYOND MARRIAGE traces the history of contemporary legal battles for LGBTQ rights, orients the reader to the present state of the law, and looks ahead to the future of the movement in light of the election of President Trump and Vice President Pence.

Written using a narrative style and historical-legal framework, the book is richly sourced. Mezey organizes the book thematically, with each chapter focusing on a specific policy area: employment discrimination, transgender rights, marriage equality, continuing struggles (mostly focusing on state laws exempting religious institutions and business owners from anti-discrimination laws), and global perspectives (focusing chiefly on Canada, South Africa, and the European Union).

BEYOND MARRIAGE is a major contribution to the field for a number of reasons. First, it provides an excellent snapshot of where we are at this unique point in time, with same-sex marriage legal nationwide but with much work still to be done. Post-OBERGEFELL, issues surrounding LGBTQ rights seemed to fade from the national consciousness. Correspondingly, much of the energy of the LGBTQ rights movement seemed to dissipate, and some began to talk of a “post-gay” era (On a personal note, I began to open my LGBTQ Politics courses with a justification for why the subject retained its timeliness and political relevance.). Mezey’s book clearly illustrates that the LGBTQ rights movement did not end in 2015, but rather transformed. With the lack of federal legislation to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination, statewide battles over transgender “bathroom bills”, and the Supreme Court set to hear a case pitting a religious baker against an engaged same-sex couple, these questions have never been more relevant.

Second, the work also exposes how deeply dependent recent LGBTQ legal victories have been on both sympathetic judiciaries and friendly presidential administrations. Throughout the book, but especially in sections that discuss recent battles over transgender rights, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Justice, and Department of Education have played a leading role in trying to ensure fair treatment for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals in both workplaces and schools. As Mezey discusses in her conclusion, these stances are likely to change (or have changed already) under the Trump administration; a troubling thought for those who favor LGBTQ equality. Moreover, through her detailed discussions of the ROMER, LAWRENCE, WINDSOR, and OBERGEFELL decisions, Mezey shows the Supreme Court to be a key ally in the fight for LGBTQ rights, despite its failure to explicitly raise sexual orientation to a higher level of judicial scrutiny. As we know, however, the composition of the Court could easily change over the next few years under President Trump.