On Our Bookshelf: Recently Published Books from Columbia Law

These works by Law School faculty and scholars cover a wide range of compelling topics.

Columbia Law faculty members and staff have published books on topics ranging from the history of abortion rights and an examination of marriage equality to the threats posed by administrative agencies. 

With one month left until the fall semester, pick up on one of these recently published books and gain insight into some of the pressing issues in the law.


About Abortion: Terminating Pregnancy in Twenty-First-Century America
By Carol Sanger
March 2017

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in Roe v. Wade that a woman’s right to an abortion is protected by the 14th Amendment. So why, nearly a half-century later, is the right to an abortion still such a contested, controversial issue? 

Carol Sanger, Columbia Law School’s Barbara Aronstein Black Professor of Law, addresses this question in her book, About Abortion: Terminating Pregnancy in Twenty-First-Century America. Sanger, an expert on reproductive rights, family law, and abortion regulation, writes of the “enduring grip that abortion holds on American society.”

“There is an entire structure of American law and culture aimed at causing women to feel guilty about ending—or even considering ending—a pregnancy,” she says.

Earlier this year, Sanger sat down with Columbia Law School student Madeline Hopper ’18 to discuss her reasons for tackling the subject matter, her insights into the struggles of women who are considering or have had abortions, and her predictions for the future of this issue. You can also read The New Yorker’s review of About Abortion and commentary on the book by Professor David Pozen. 

The Administrative Threat
By Philip Hamburger
May 2017

Philip Hamburger’s new 68-page book, The Administrative Threat, is a compact, forceful distillation of his more scholarly 646-page tome, Is Administrative Law Unlawful?, published in 2014. Both works lay out why Hamburger, the Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law, considers the powers now routinely exercised by administrative agencies to be “dangerous and unlawful in ways not conventionally recognized,” as he put it in the earlier work.

Hamburger contends that the Constitution permits only the legislative and judicial branches to subject citizens to binding obligations. The executive branch can enforce those obligations, but cannot create its own, he argues. The rise of administrative agencies over the past century violates that scheme, in his view.

The Wall Street Journal explored the work in an op-ed published in June, while Hamburger elaborated on his thesis in a recent Q&A

The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads
By Tim Wu
October 2016 (in paperback September 2017)

Facing a constant barrage of sophisticated ads, targeted branding efforts, customized social media content, and clever commercials, our society is more distracted than ever, believes Columbia Law School Professor Tim Wu, who writes about the advertising industry’s role in today’s media-inundated world in his book, The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads.

The tech policy and media law expert, best known for coining the term “net neutrality” and for his earlier book, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, built the 432-page treatise around the premise that attention itself has become the currency of today’s digital world, and the “last scarce resource.”

In October, Wu discussed The Attention Merchants with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air. He also sat down with the Law School’s Communications Office for a Q&A before the kick-off of his national book tour.

Awakening: How Gays and Lesbians Brought Marriage Equality to America
By Nathaniel Frank
April 2017

Fifty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Loving v. Virginia that laws prohibiting interracial marriage were unconstitutional. That landmark decision also paved the way for the Supreme Court’s marriage equality rulings—United States v. Windsor (2013) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), notes historian Nathaniel Frank, the author of Awakening: How Gays and Lesbian Brought Marriage Equality to America. 

“LGBTQ rights were advanced in an incremental fashion,” says Frank, director of the Law School’s What We Know Project, an online research portal that is aggregating scholarly research on LGBTQ issues. “The most enduring way to advance a cause is by learning to speak the language of those you are trying to attract, rather than those who already agree with you. You’ve got to be strategic.” 

You can read more of Frank’s thoughts on the marriage equality movement’s debt to the Loving decision in his Q&A with the Law School.

The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right
By Michael J. Graetz and Linda Greenhouse
June 2017 (paperback)

In this book, Professor Michael J. Graetz and co-author Linda Greenhouse, who covered the Supreme Court for The New York Times for 30 years, highlight the often-overlooked influence of the U.S. Supreme Court when Warren E. Burger was the chief justice. The authors argue that, although the Burger Court does still garner a reputation as a transitional time in the Supreme Court’s history, from 1969 to 1986 its decisions gradually led to a “major conservative judicial movement” on criminal justice, business, and free speech issues that reverberates decades later.

“The Burger Court’s story is a more powerful and influential one than its previous legal characterization,” says Graetz, a leading national and international tax law expert who is a prolific author and speaker. Late last year, the Law School faculty gathered to celebrate and discuss the new work.

Wedlocked: The Perils of Marriage Equality 
By Katherine Franke
November 2015 (in paperback October 2017)

In Wedlocked: The Perils of Marriage Equality, Katherine Franke, an Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and director of the Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, weaves stories of African-Americans’ struggle to gain freedom and basic civil rights at the end of the Civil War with lessons for today’s marriage equality movement.

The association of these two struggles for marriage rights offers two important lessons: First, be careful what you wish for, as the backlash against new rights holders may set back the larger cause for equality; and second, the two movements for marriage rights can illuminate the differences between racism and homophobia.

“Writing Wedlocked has challenged me to think hard about marriage, about tradition, about rights, and about my own resistance to the gay community’s prioritization of marriage equality as a civil rights goal,” says Franke. “I have had to revisit some of my most deeply held views as I struggled with this material and with the success of the marriage equality movement, and I hope that readers of the book will too.”


Published on August 10, 2017