Stephen Macedo

Stephen Macedo is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics at Princeton University and author of Just Married: Same-Sex Couples, Monogamy, and the Future of Marriage (Princeton University Press, 2015).    

Recent Articles

But Was the Court's Ruling on Marriage Democratic?

Contrary to critics, extending rights to long-oppressed groups lies at the heart of our democratic system. 

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Never has a revolution in moral and legal judgment occurred so quickly. Only 29 years ago, a conservative majority on the Supreme Court dismissed arguments for the most basic constitutional protections for gay people as, “at best, facetious.” Now, thanks to a new majority on the Court, we have something barely imaginable just a few years ago: a constitutional right to marriage equality. Yet there is a potential stain on this victory for equal rights. The four justices dissenting from the Court’s historic same-sex marriage decision charge that it is undemocratic. According to Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court is “stealing this issue from the people.” A “judicial Putsch,” Justice Antonin Scalia declares. The charge of democratic illegitimacy rolls through the four dissents like thunder, and it may resonate widely. Some notable progressive legal thinkers, such as Mark Tushnet and Jeremy Waldron, have long warned that the liberal reliance on...

From Same-Sex Marriage to Polygamy?

Why there is no slippery slope.

AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren
With the Supreme Court likely to hand down its decision on same-sex marriage shortly, let’s consider the argument made by conservatives that seems to weigh most heavily with the public. Traditionalists warn against a “slippery slope” from gay rights to more radical change that would include legal recognition of polygamy. According to conservatives, those who want to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples cannot explain why it should stop there. At the Supreme Court’s oral argument Justice Samuel Alito invoked not only polygamous marriage but also the caring relationship of a brother and sister who reside together. Assuming consent and mutual commitment, why not let them all wed? If constitutional principles and reasoned reflection cannot help sort through the nettlesome issues related to marriage in its potential varieties, the Supreme Court may surprise us and refuse for now to recognize a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The key to resolving...

Books in Review

Liberal Pluralism: The Implications of Value Pluralism for Political Theory and Practice By William A. Galston. Cambridge University Press, 152 pages, $19.00 No living American political theorist has come closer than Bill Galston to serving in the classical role of philosopher to princes. A prolific and influential scholar and a founder of the New Democrats, he was one of Bill Clinton's top White House counselors and advised John Anderson, Walter Mondale and, most recently, Al Gore in their presidential campaigns. I know of no one who travels between the realms of political theory and practice as thoughtfully and productively. Liberal Pluralism weds Galston's insights into current policy and politics with his decades of reflection on political theory. In the mighty clash between collective purposes and various forms of cultural pluralism and multiculturalism, Galston charges that liberals too often fail to give "diversity its due." We need a new liberalism, he says, founded on "public...