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Neglected Stories: The Constitution and Family Values Hardcover – August, 1997

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Davis takes a new approach to "family values," a phrase usually regarded as the rhetorical property of conservative politicians. Here the phrase defines the focus of a legal and historical investigation into how slavery--once constitutionally permissible--sundered the marital and family ties of African Americans and into how the Fourteenth Amendment finally offered protection to these ties. Davis pursues her investigation with both motivational stories, recounting the suffering of African Americans cruelly denied the right to marry and rear children, and doctrinal stories, tracing the events that gave us the Fourteenth Amendment and the body of legal doctrine surrounding it. In our century, these doctrinal stories have wound themselves into knotty subplots, as social activists have tried--against fierce resistance--to use the Fourteenth Amendment to legitimate new rights for women seeking abortions, for unmarried fathers asserting their paternity, and for homosexuals claiming civil equality with heterosexuals. Because of her stress on the right to privacy and autonomy in family decisions, Davis generally sides with activists rather than conservatives. But for readers across the political spectrum, she provides a powerful reminder of why we needed the Fourteenth Amendment in the first place and why we all still have a vital stake in how our legislators and judges interpret it. Bryce Christensen

Review

This is an odd book.... However harrowing these narratives may be, the idea that legal analysis can be called "legal storytelling" is fast becoming an intellectual cliché, and this study does nothing to freshen it. -- The New York Times Book Review, Allen B. Boyer
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Hill & Wang Pub; 1 edition (August 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809072416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809072415
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,860,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
The author accurately described the process where the issues of constitutional significance of parental rights and the liberty right to custody of children parallel the struggles of the abolitionists and the civil rights movement. Of note, the very first case to reach the merits of "custody and the constitution" is awaiting decision as of this date (February 25, 2003) in the federal court in Dayton, Ohio, captioned Galluzzo v. Champaign County Court of Common Pleas, filed April 27, 2001. The denial of due process and equal protection are identical to the issues raised by the author and detailed throughout her book. This book is "must" reading for domestic relations attorneys who have no clue about the construction of federal law pursuant to state law and for legislators and legal theorists who lack knowledge of why the state's claim to the "best interests of a child" is uncontitutional where a parent is a suitable parent and not found by "clear & convincing" evidence to be unfit.
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Format: Hardcover
A fascinating historical perspective on the post-Civil War constitutional amendments which gives much needed background on family rights as aspects of liberty. I take serious issue with the New York Times review, which gave short shrift to Professor Davis' analysis. I read this book in law school but it is accessible to any reader interested in law and the public discourse on family values.
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