In the News

Melissa Murray in the news:

Supreme Court term limits would create their own problems

Melissa Murray writes for The New York Times, Room for Debate, March 19, 2016

Term-limited justices might aspire to other political offices, or positions in business, and these post-term aspirations might shape their judicial decision-making on the court. For all its problems, life tenure was intended to insulate judges — and their decisions — from these pressures.

Could term limits ease fights over Supreme Court nominees?

Melissa Murray writes for The New York Times, March 19, 2016

In a term-limited environment, justices might feel immediate pressure to identify and enact a distinct interpretative approach, stymieing the deliberative and organic growth that lengthier tenures could afford.

Berkeley Law scholars submit amicus curiae briefs in Supreme Court abortion case

Melissa Murray and Claudia Polsky interviewed by The Daily Californian, Feb. 22, 2016

“Laws that unduly target access to reproductive health services compromise the dignity of women and impair their ability to participate in society as equal citizens,” Murray said in an email.

“I feel like millions of women are in peril of losing rights that we’ve taken for granted for a few decades,” said Claudia Polsky, a Berkeley Law assistant professor and director of Berkeley’s Environmental Law Clinic. Polsky was one of 113 women in the legal profession to sign an amicus curiae brief in which they detailed their experiences with abortion.

Is CDC’s alcohol warning paternalistic? Why some women think so

Melissa Murray quoted in Medical Xpress, Feb. 19, 2016

The report fails to take into account that pregnancy is not something every woman wants. “There are maybe lots of women who want to be pregnant,” says Murray, “but there are also women who have no interest in being pregnant, don’t want to be mothers, or at least don’t want to be mothers through pregnancy.”

Will Obama look west to California for Supreme Court nominee?

David Carrillo and Melissa Murray quoted on, Feb. 16, 2016

David A. Carrillo, executive director of the California Constitution Center at Berkeley Law, agreed: “California is the tail that wags the dog on so many issues.”

Maybe the famous swing justice would have extra sympathy for a Californian. As Murray put it wryly, “We are always thinking about how to resonate with Justice Kennedy.”

Pregnancy centers must comply with abortion information law

Melissa Murray interviewed by KPCC-FM, Dec. 30, 2015

Melissa Murray said the cases represent a collision of legal rights. She said the courts have recognized both freedom of speech and the right to an abortion as protected freedoms under the Constitution, so “the question here isn’t does one prevail over the other, but how do you accommodate both of them?”

Supreme Court landmark case Roe v. Wade

Melissa Murray interviewed by C-SPAN, Dec. 21, 2015

“Not all of the rights in the Constitution are actually enumerated in the Constitution’s text. … There are other kinds of rights that might be divined later through judicial interpretation, and the 9th amendment sort of speaks to that. The three-judge panel talked about the 9th amendment being a source of rights like this one: the right to have an abortion.”

UC Berkeley School of Law Prof. Melissa Murray

Melissa Murray interviewed by Tavis Smiley, PBS, Dec. 7, 2015

“This is a constitution written in 1787 where the right to bear arms means something quite different than what it means today. … So I think that’s the question: Do we hew to this old view of the right and the context in which it was first enacted, or is this a situation where we have to take contemporary events into account when we think about what this right might mean in a contemporary society?”

The strange history of marriage as court-ordered punishment

Melissa Murray writes for, August 14, 2015

Today, the crime of seduction no longer exists in most American jurisdictions. Nevertheless, the residue of the history of marriage as punishment survives in certain forms.

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.”