In the News

Melissa Murray in the news:

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.”

Pelosi to remain House minority leader for Dems

Melissa Murray interviewed on KTVU-TV, November 14, 2012

“Why are we talking about whether she’s old enough, or too old, to do it? This is a long-standing kind of narrative. Men get more distinguished; women just get old and decrepit. These are things that don’t get talked about when men are the subjects. We talk about their actions, their policies, their perspectives, not about their pantsuits or their hairstyles.”

Free to be biased?

Melissa Murray, Russell Robinson write for The New York Times, Room for Debate, April 25, 2012

The question is whether the law should play a role in casting, or whether, under the license of “artistic freedom,” producers may cater to the preferences of the majority. Similar questions have surfaced in other contexts, and the law’s response has been clear and emphatic.

Melissa Murray Examines Postpartum Psychosis Defense

Los Angeles Times, September 12, 2011 by Carol J. Williams and Shari Roan,0,6042102.story

Murray said the women thought to be most susceptible to postpartum psychosis, those with financial difficulties or stressful family relations, are the least likely to be noticed by medical professionals because they often lack health insurance for postnatal follow-up with doctors.

Melissa Murray, Herma Hill Kay Explain Anti-Bigamy Lawsuit

The Christian Science Monitor, July 13, 2011 by Daniel B. Wood

“This is not about the Browns’ attempt to get Utah to recognize polygamous marriage, but rather to ask the federal courts to tell them they cannot punish intimate conduct,” says Melissa Murray, assistant professor of law.

Adds Herma Hill Kay, a UC Berkeley law professor: “They are not seeking to have their relationship validated as a marriage. They’re just trying to avoid criminal prosecution.”

Melissa Murray and Susan Gluss Praise Sotomayor and Moot Court Competitors

The Daily Californian, January 19, 2011 by Alisha Azevedo

Sotomayor agreed to judge the competition because of the law school’s prestige, Gluss said. “Our students win or place in national competitions each year, besting their peers in other top-tier law schools,” she said. “The chance to parry with such bright students is a compelling one.”

“She’s a very exacting jurist—she does her homework and knows the facts and ins and outs of the cases. Students will find that she’s incredibly well-prepared and that they will need to bring their A-game to the competition,” Murray said.