Monday, November 19, 2012

UW Law Professor Peter Nicolas Writes First Legal Textbook on the Constitutional Law of Sexual Orientation

UW’s own Jeffrey & Susan Brotman Endowed Professor of Law, Peter Nicolas, has just published Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and the Constitution, the first law school textbook of its kind.  The book, which blends cases, problems, textual narrative, and explanatory notes, fills a surprising gap in legal scholarship, considering the increasing importance of LGBTQ rights as a political and legal issue in recent years.

Before now, no constitutional law textbook had dealt solely with sexual orientation and gender identity.  General constitutional law textbooks often omit or heavily edit important cases in this area, especially those from lower federal courts and state courts.  (The constitutional law in this area goes far beyond Lawrence v. Texas.)  Meanwhile, books on sexual orientation, gender identity, and the law have not been written solely with regard to constitutional law, and therefore have not addressed constitutional issues with the depth of Professor Nicolas’ text. 

In addition, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and the Constitution stands alone among either type of book in addressing at length the many procedural obstacles that confront litigators wishing for a court to consider constitutional arguments in a given case involving discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. 

This latter aspect of the book may prove especially beneficial to law students.  As a general matter, courts will only consider the constitutionality of a given law or state action if the case cannot be decided on any other ground.  Yet, the instruction of constitutional law often does not focus on the common procedural problems that prevent courts from considering important constitutional questions.  Professor Nicolas spends nearly 80 pages of the text addressing these procedural issues, which include standing, mootness, abstention, and jurisdiction stripping.

Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and the Constitution will be available soon at Gallagher.  You can check on its availability here. 

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