Eskridge, William N., Jr. 1951- (William Nichol Eskridge, Jr.)
Eskridge, William N., Jr. 1951- (William Nichol Eskridge, Jr.)
U.S. District Court, New York, NY, law clerk to judge Edward Weinfeld, 1978-79; Shea & Gardner, Washington, DC, associate, 1979-82; University of Virginia Law School, Charlottesville, assistant professor, 1982-86; Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC, associate professor, 1987-90, professor, 1990—; New York University Law School, New York, visiting professor, 1993; Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA, visiting professor, 1994; Stanford Law School, Stanford, CA, visiting professor, 1995; Yale Law School, New Haven, CT, visiting professor, 1995.
(Editor) A Dance along the Precipice: The Political and Economic Dimensions of the International Debt Problem, Lexington (Lexington, MA), 1985.
(With Philip Frickey) Cases and Materials on Legislation: Statutes and the Creation of Public Policy, West Publishing (St. Paul, MN), 1988, 4th edition (with Philip P. Frickey and Elizabeth Garrett), 2007.
(With Philip Frickey and Daniel Farber) Constitutional Law: Themes for the Constitution's Third Century, West Publishing (St, Paul, MN), 1993.
(With Philip Frickey) Dynamic Statutory Interpretation, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1994.
(With Philip Frickey and Henry Hart) The Legal Process: Basic Problems in the Making and Application of Law, Foundation (Westbury, NY), 1994.
The Case for Same-Sex Marriage: From Sexual Liberty to Civilized Commitment, Free Press (New York, NY), 1996.
(With Nan Hunter) Sexuality, Gender, and the Law, Foundation (Westbury, NY), 1997, reprinted, 2004.
(Editor, with Sanford Levinson) Constitutional Stupidities, Constitutional Tragedies, New York University (New York, NY), 1998.
(Editor) Gaylaw: Challenging the Apartheid of the Closet, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.
Legislation and Statutory Interpretation, Foundation Press (New York, NY), 2000, 2nd edition (with Philip P. Frickey and Elizabeth Garrett), 2006.
Equality Practice: Civil Unions and the Future of Gay Rights, Routledge (New York, NY), 2001.
(With Darren R. Spedale) Gay Marriage: For Better or for Worse? What We've Learned from the Evidence, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003, Viking (New York, NY), 2008.
William N. Eskridge, Jr., a Georgetown University Law Center professor, has published widely in his areas of expertise—constitutional law and gay legal issues—in scholarly journals and the popular press. Eskridge began his legal career in 1979 as an associate at the Washington, DC, firm of Shea & Gardner. Three years later, he began his career as a law educator. His teaching posts include the country's most prestigious law schools.
His first book, A Dance along the Precipice: The Political and Economic Dimensions of the International Debt Problem, is a collection of nine papers—from lawyers, bankers, political scientists, and economists—introduced at a University of Virginia Law School conference in 1984. It investigates how economics and politics figure in the international debt crisis. The volume targets students as well as a general readership. D.L. Cramer, writing in Choice, called A Dance along the Precipice an "excellent comparative analysis on the international debt problem."
Three years later, Eskridge and colleague Philip Frickey collaborated on Cases and Materials on Legislation: Statutes and the Creation of Public Policy. Characterizing it as a "masterful introduction to the subject," federal appeals court judge Richard A. Posner wrote in the Virginia Law Review: "The Eskridge and Frickey casebook on legislation is far and away the best set of teaching materials on the subject of legislation that has ever been published…. Moreover, it has the potential to alter the law school curriculum."
By 1994, Eskridge's reputation as a legal educator was firmly established. He had received visiting professorships at New York University and Harvard, and he published a fourth book, Dynamic Statutory Interpretation. Beth M. Henschen, writing on the Law and Politics Book Review Web site, called the book "intellectually engaging" and a "comprehensive account … [with] thought-provoking analysis." "The book is a remarkable tour de force," William D. Popkin wrote in the Journal of Legal Education.
In Dynamic Statutory Interpretation, Eskridge examines statutory interpretation and its effect on public policy-making. He also theorizes that statutory interpretation is dynamic, meaning that there are many means of interpretation. In the end Eskridge asserts that dynamic statutory interpretation makes it likely that a statutory provision will not always be one the original lawmakers approved. "The process of statutory interpretation is the unsung workhorse of the law," Paul Mitchell reviewed in McGill Law Journal. "All but ignored by the law schools, lacking the high profile of constitutional interpretation, the interpretation of statutes is, nevertheless, the most common task of the courts and administrative tribunals. Common, yes; but essential, too."
After teaching at Stanford and Yale in the mid-1990s, Eskridge released The Case for Same-Sex Marriage: From Sexual Liberty to Civilized Commitment. "Professor Eskridge has established a well-deserved reputation as our leading legal academic specialist on statutory interpretation," Posner wrote in the Michigan Law Review. "Lately, his interests have expanded to take in the legal rights of homosexuals." Eskridge reviews same-sex marriage ceremonies in various cultures and eras, including Mesopotamia and among Native Americans, a practice accepted by the U.S. government. He offers constitutional and social perspectives.
The Case for Same-Sex Marriage analyzes gay activists' longstanding debate about marriage: Some consider it assimilation, others capitulation to society's norms. Ray Olson wrote in Booklist that Eskridge, in the end, "avers that suppressing homosexuals is bad for society and that failing to extend marriage to them is a blot on a nation that prides itself in legal equality."
This book presumes marriage between same-sex couples should be allowed and that the Constitution provides all couples the fundamental right to marry and thus receive all the legal, social, and financial benefits heterosexual couples would get. The Case for Same-Sex Marriage was written largely for "heterosexual Americans who seldom think about the subject of gay marriage, and when they do are uneasy about it," said New York Times correspondent Neil A. Lewis. "There is at present a rich debate among homosexuals about whether marriage is something even worth having. Some think it foolish to yearn after a flawed institution and that it would inhibit further the development of a distinctive and desirable gay culture. But Mr. Eskridge is of the school … that marriage is worth it."
Eskridge published, with Nan Hunter, Sexuality, Gender, and the Law, a casebook that Yale Law Journal reviewer Katherine M. Franke found "can have a profound effect upon the formation of a law school subject, a legal field, and a canon." Sexuality, Gender, and the Law, according to Franke, goes a long way toward answering such legal questions as: "What is, or should be considered, the canon of the field alternatively termed gay/lesbian, sexual orientation, sexuality, or queer law? What should we teach?"
Constitutional Stupidities, Constitutional Tragedies, a collection of essays Eskridge edited with Sanford Levinson, evolved from two conferences. In one, topics ranged from allowing presidential candidates who are not natural-born citizens to eliminating the electoral college. The other, R.J. Steamer in Choice wrote, "confronts tough, fundamental questions inherent in the American constitutional experiment that are worthy of attention."
As editor of Gaylaw: Challenging the Apartheid of the Closet, Eskridge won the 2001 award of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table of the American Library Association. Gaylaw analyzes legal issues relating to gender and sexual nonconformity. Eskridge argues for the "sexualization" of the First Amendment, seeking to interpret same-sex ceremonies and intimacy between same-sex couples as "expressive conduct" entitled to the protection of the courts.
On the CNN.com Web site, Eskridge discussed the Vermont law allowing "civil unions" between same-sex couples. "By creating quasi-marital options just short of marriage," he said, "the Vermont law makes a concession to moral and religious traditionalists who seek to preserve the ‘sanctity’ of marriage as the organizing institution in Western society." Arguing for legislation of full marital options for same-sex couples, Eskridge continued: "These [civil union] laws not only make marriage less special, but they lessen the difficulty of divorce. That should trouble the religious traditionalist and the gay-marriage proponent alike. Thus, if traditionalists truly want to preserve marriage—not just homophobia—it's time for them to join forces with the gay-marriage activists in a common cause."
Posner, writing for the New Republic, found Gaylaw "an impressive treatise on the regulation of homosexuality by American law. It is formidably learned, both in law and in the external disciplines (such as history, psychology, and sociology) that study homosexuality; and it is powerfully written and brilliantly argued."
In Equality Practice: Civil Unions and the Future of Gay Rights, Eskridge refines his ideas from The Case for Same-Sex Marriage. Its standpoint is considered moderate.
Gay Marriage: For Better or for Worse? What We've Learned from the Evidence, which Eskridge wrote with attorney Darren Spedale, takes a look at actual instances in which gay marriage has been legalized, as opposed to the approach taken by many recent books in which the author simply hypothesized regarding the legalization of same-sex marriages in the United States. Eskridge and Spedale look at the laws and the social ramifications in countries such as Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, where marriage between same-sex partners, known by the term "registered partnership," became legal in the early 1990s. In taking this stance, they have successfully steered around the moral arguments that frequently bog down discussions about the issue, and instead have focused on the legal and social situations that have been evident from the legalization of gay marriage in these countries. They include statistics that address concerns of a number of more conservative Americans, who proposed that the legalization of gay marriage would in some way detract from and as a result cause a decrease in heterosexual marriages, as if the gay marriages would make heterosexual couples feel as if marriage itself were less sacred and therefore less desirable. In reality, the countries that have legalized gay marriage have seen no decrease in heterosexual marriages as a result. They go on to look at other issues surrounding gay marriage, including divorce and children. Ultimately, they suggest that the best way to enact gay marriage in the United States is to gradually work up to it by legalizing different aspects of these relationships, essentially the same method that was used in Scandinavia. Brian Zabcik, writing for American Lawyer, noted that "though this is very realistic advice, it's also quite depressing for American advocates of same-sex marriage. Denmark took 56 years to progress from the first milestone on the equality practice checklist … to the last."
Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003 looks at the history of sodomy laws in the United States and how they are linked to modern-day progress—or lack of progress—in the effort to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. Over the last century and a half, various laws have been enacted that addressed the rights of human beings in the United States to have sexual relations that were in no way connected to procreation. The gay and lesbian community has worked tirelessly through the years to have these laws repealed, one by one, in an attempt to secure for everyone the right to express their sexuality in whatever way they chose in private, and to prevent discrimination in other walks of life based on private sexual practice. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that "Eskridge gives an incisive, panoramic view of America's (slowly) changing attitudes toward homosexuality, sexual tolerance and personal freedom."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Lawyer, November 1, 2006, Brian Zabcik, review of Gay Marriage: For Better or for Worse? What We've Learned from the Evidence, p. 75.
Booklist, April 15, 1996, Ray Olson, review of The Case for Same-Sex Marriage: From Sexual Liberty to Civilized Commitment, p. 1399.
California Law Review, July, 1989, Daniel B. Rodriguez, review of Cases and Materials on Legislation: Statutes and the Creation of Public Policy, p. 919.
Choice, March, 1986, D.L. Cramer, review of A Dance along the Precipice: The Political and Economic Dimensions of the International Debt Problem, p. 1114; January, 1999, R.J. Steamer, review of Constitutional Stupidities, Constitutional Tragedies, p. 970.
Constitutional Commentary, winter, 2000, Dale Carpenter, review of Gaylaw: Challenging the Apartheid of the Closet, p. 603.
Foreign Affairs, Volume 64, issue 4, 1986, W. Diebold, Jr., review of A Dance along the Precipice, p. 877.
Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, spring, 2000, R.A. Horne, review of Gaylaw, p. 49.
Journal of Economic Literature, June, 1986, review of A Dance along the Precipice, p. 778.
Journal of Legal Education, June, 1995, William D. Popkin, review of Dynamic Statutory Interpretation, p. 297.
Library Journal, October 15, 1999, Michael A. Lutes, review of Gaylaw, p. 89.
McGill Law Journal, June, 1996, Paul Mitchell, review of Dynamic Statutory Interpretation, p. 713.
Michigan Law Review, May, 1996, Daniel A. Farber, review of Dynamic Statutory Interpretation, p. 1546, Anthony J. Sebok, review of The Legal Process: Basic Problems in the Making and Application of Law, pp. 1571-1575; May, 1997, Richard A. Posner, review of The Case for Same-Sex Marriage, p. 1578; May, 2000, Toni M. Massaro, review of Gaylaw, p. 1564.
National Review, May 6, 1996, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, review of The Case for Same-Sex Marriage, p. 52.
New Republic, October 11, 1999, Richard A. Posner, review of Gaylaw, p. 52.
New York Times Book Review, September 8, 1996, Neil A. Lewis, review of The Case for Same-Sex Marriage, p. 14.
Publishers Weekly, February 19, 1996, review of The Case for Same-Sex Marriage, p. 194; December 10, 2001, review of Equality Practice: Civil Unions and the Future of Gay Rights, p. 60; February 18, 2008, review of Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003, p. 144.
Seattle University Law Review, spring, 1998, William A. Kaplin, review of Constitutional Law: Themes for the Constitution's Third Century, p. 885.
Virginia Law Review, November, 1988, Richard A. Posner, review of Cases and Materials on Legislation, p. 1567.
Yale Law Journal, June, 1997, Katherine M. Franke, review of Sexuality, Gender, and the Law, p. 2661.
CNN.com,http://www.cnn.com/ (July 11, 2000), interview with author.
Georgetown University Web site,http://experts.georgetown.edu/ (May 10, 2002), faculty profile.
Law and Politics Book Review,http://www.bsos.umd.edu/gvpt/lpbr/ (July, 1995), review of Dynamic Statutory Interpretation.
Shea & Gardner,http://www.sheagardner.com/ (May 10, 2002), author biography.