In the News


Melissa Murray in the news:



States have ‘no obligation’ to accept same-sex marriage ruling

Melissa Murray interviewed by NPR, June 29, 2015

“The United States Supreme Court may not have the power of the purse and the sword like Congress or the executive—Alexander Hamilton famously called the Court the least dangerous branch because it lacked the kind of power to enforce its own judgments. But the fact of the Supreme Court judgment—the fact that the Supreme Court has the power to interpret the law is a power in and of itself.”


Q&A: How will same-sex marriage ruling be enforced across the U.S.?

Melissa Murray interviewed by Los Angeles Times, June 29, 2015

“You should think of Brown v. Board of Education, which desegregated schools,” Murray said, referring to the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that struck down separate-but-equal schools as unconstitutional. “But it actually took years for that to happen because so many Southern states dragged their feet.”


Why is marriage Supreme?

Melissa Murray quoted in San Francisco Chronicle, June 28, 2015

That’s a fine conclusion, Murray said, but “for those of us who are interested in the project of respecting different kinds of family forms, in making things good for children of single-parent homes, a Supreme Court opinion that venerates marriage sends the message that everything outside of marriage is not worthy of dignity.”


Same-sex marriage ruling affirms dignity for all

Melissa Murray quoted in San Francisco Chronicle, June 27, 2015

Melissa Murray … said the ruling exemplifies “constitutional dynamism, a Constitution that’s keeping pace with where we’re going.” But Murray, while praising the result, said Kennedy’s “doctrinal thread is a little loose” and fails to set clear standards for future cases.


Veterans of marriage fight savor victory

Melissa Murray quoted in The Recorder (registration required), June 26, 2015

Murray said the opinion’s “hyper-veneration of marriage” was especially odd to her since two of the justices joining the majority—Sotomayor and Elena Kagan—are not married. “Let me just say, that I’m thrilled that the result of this opinion is marriage equality. But I might be the only person in San Francisco muted in her enthusiasm,” Murray said. “It’s a very conservative opinion. Radical in outcome, I guess. But marriage is not radical.”


Groundbreaking textbook makes the case for reproductive justice field

Melissa Murray, Kristin Luker and Jill Adams quoted in Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2015

“There were lots of instructors who were interested in teaching, but the absence of a casebook was a huge deterrent because it means you actually have to compile the materials yourself,” Murray said. “It also suggested that the field was not a field at all because it hadn’t been defined by a book.”

“Reproductive justice,” Luker said, “suggests that having a baby is just as important as the right not to have a baby.”

“The publication of this book signals the legitimacy of the subject matter as an area of study, and also as an area of practice,” said Jill Adams. … “In legal education, these cases and concepts are given very short shrift. It’s a victory to have this subject matter encased in that familiar blue binding on the shelf alongside all the other well-established courses.”


New law book could change the face of reproductive rights

Jill Adams and Melissa Murray interviewed by Colorlines, February 27, 2015

“[The casebook] has the potential to enlighten a generation of legal thinkers and community leaders about how laws regarding sex, families and reproduction intersect with other areas of policy,” says Adams. “It could show how the struggle for reproductive justice is inextricably linked to efforts to … rework systems to meet the needs of marginalized communities and redistribute power.”

“The interest in controlling reproduction has been racialized almost from the start,” says Murray. “The earliest efforts to medicalize obstetrics and gynecology came from doctors who were experimenting on enslaved women. The criminalization of pregnancy has been laid out on the bodies of black women. There is a really racialized discourse in the effort to control reproduction and sexuality.”


South Korea legalizes adultery

Melissa Murray interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2015

In the Asia-Pacific region, Taiwan and the Philippines treat marital infidelity as a crime. Twenty U.S. states allow civil or criminal prosecution for extramarital affairs but enforcement is rare, says Melissa Murray.


The first casebook on reproductive rights and justice law

Melissa Murray writes for ACS Blog, January 28, 2015

Limitations on access to contraception and abortion are, by their very nature, efforts to regulate sex and sexuality by curtailing women’s efforts to control reproduction.  The legal regulation of reproduction is merely part of a broader story of efforts to discipline and regulate sex.


Real-life effects of court rulings should matter as well as the law

Melissa Murray writes for The New York Times, January 27, 2015

In many cases, constitutional and statutory text is imprecise or opaque, admitting multiple interpretations. In such cases, judges consider many variables, including the real-world consequences of their decisions.


Unlikely gay marriage pioneers tied knot in Houston

Melissa Murray quoted in Houston Chronicle (registration required) November 28, 2014

“What these cases did was to bring gay couples, loving couples to the forefront, out of the closet and out of the shadows,” Murray said. “I don’t think you could have a contemporary marriage movement without them.”


Sonia Sotomayor at SJSU

Melissa Murray moderates interview at San Jose State University, October 20, 2014

“I first met the justice over ten years ago. I was interviewing with her for a position as her clerk when she was then on the United States Court of Appeals for the second circuit. … And I was interviewing for this job with someone who everyone knew was a really fantastic jurist.”


Morals clauses prove controversial for Catholic school teachers

Melissa Murray interviewed by National Public Radio, July 15, 2014

According to University of California Berkeley law professor Melissa Murray, there’s a legal strategy behind these morals clauses. “The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted from the text of the First Amendment what is known as a ministerial exception.” Murray says the ministerial exception holds that if you are hired as a minister, then you can be fired for religious reasons. And Murray says, contract language that elevates teachers to the role of ministers can be seen as a reaction to more and more states legalizing same-sex marriage.


Actor’s custody case may impact other dads

Melissa Murray quoted in Ashbury Park Press, May 17, 2014

“I don’t think the (Patric) case was groundbreaking,” said Melissa Murray, a Berkeley Law professor who specializes in family law issues. “I do think it will be an important decision for filling in a vacuum in the law. It will be important for those individuals who are in families but they are not families who have been joined in marriage.”


New Hampshire Senate votes to repeal anti-adultery law

Melissa Murray quoted in USA Today, April 17, 2014

In practical terms, committing adultery poses very little threat of prosecution, but it could have civil consequences, such as impacting custody battles during a divorce, says Melissa Murray…. “There’s a stigma attached to adultery,” Murray tells USA TODAY Network. “The fact that it is a crime maintains that stigma.”


Legal experts, activists, SCOTUSBlog weigh in on Supreme Court decisions

Melissa Murray interviewed by NewNowNext, June 27, 2013

“The Defense of Marriage Act affected almost a thousand different federal laws that discussed marriage or made references to wives, spouses, husbands, so the fact that this is no longer constitutional is huge. It means that LGBT couples who are in lawful marriages can be considered spouses … when federal law makes those distinctions on the basis of marriage, so that’s enormous.”


Get rid of the penalty

Melissa Murray and Dennis J. Ventry write for The New York Times, Room for Debate, April 14, 2013

The marriage penalty needs to go. It’s a throwback to the days when women were homemakers and men were breadwinners. It discourages dual-income couples from getting or remaining married, while thwarting efforts to create a more inclusive and egalitarian society. Moreover, the penalty conflicts with current labor demographics, evolving gender roles and proliferating family forms.


Local experts weigh in on gay marriage hearings

Melissa Murray interviewed by Modern Luxury, San Francisco Magazine, March 27, 2013

“I’m a terrible prognosticator, but it seems obvious to me that same sex marriage is inevitable. It was from Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, when the Court struck down laws that prohibited sodomy. Once you say that this behavior is no longer suitable to be regulated by criminal law, it seems that marriage is inevitable. Historically, the state either regulates sex through criminal law or through family law.”


Supreme Court hears challenges to Prop 8 and DOMA

Melissa Murray interviewed by MSNBC, Up with Chris Hayes, March 24, 2013

“Marriage has been thought of as exclusively the province of the states, a creature of state law. DOMA was unprecedented in that it was the federal government making a federal law that would only define marriage to be between a man and a woman. So, for conservative justices like Scalia, Thomas, Alito, the federalism argument, the states’ rights argument, is one that is going to be very appealing.”


Adultery, an ancient crime that remains on many books

Melissa Murray quoted in The New York Times, November 14, 2012

But Melissa Murray, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, said she thought “most courts in light of Lawrence are going to give adultery a wide berth.” Professor Murray added: “It is an open question whether adultery continues to be viable as criminal law even though it remains on the books in 24 states and territories. Nobody is going to be going to jail for it. But it is used in divorce and custody cases and even in some employment cases.”