Journal Article

Federalism as a Way Station: Windsor as Exemplar of Doctrine in Motion

Neil S. Siegel

in Journal of Legal Analysis

Volume 6, issue 1, pages 87-150
Published in print October 2014 | ISSN: 2161-7201
Published online July 2014 | e-ISSN: 1946-5319 | DOI:

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  • Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law
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This article asks what the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in United States v. Windsor stands for. It first shows that the opinion leans in the direction of marriage equality but ultimately resists any dispositive “equality” or “federalism” interpretation. The article next examines why the opinion seems intended to preserve for itself a Delphic obscurity. The article reads Windsor as an exemplar of what judicial opinions may look like in transition periods, when a Bickelian Court seeks to invite, not end, a national conversation, and to nudge it in a certain direction. In such times, federalism reasoning and rhetoric—like declining to announce the level of scrutiny and appearing to misapply the justiciability doctrines—may be used as a way station toward a particular later resolution.

Journal Article.  28873 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law ; Economics

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