Law and Public Policy

Photo credit: Karissa van Tassel

My research draws on political theory and empirical evidence to analyze public policy toward children and families.

In May 2022, I joined with six scientists from Yale and the University of Texas Southwestern to challenge, point-by-point, the purported scientific justifications used by legal authorities in Texas and Alabama to ban gender-affirming health care for transgender youth.

My most recent academic article, Psychological Parenthood (with Anne Dailey and Doug NeJaime) considers how the law might better support the crucial psychological relationship between a child and the parents who care for her; we argue, inter alia, that the law should identify parents based on the strength of the psychological bond as well as biological ties, an issue of special importance to LGBTQ families.

My latest books, both co-authored (or co-edited) with Ganesh Sitaraman, are POLITICS, POLICY, AND PUBLIC OPTIONS (Oxford University Press 2021) and THE PUBLIC OPTION (Harvard University Press 2019). In both books, we explore how and why government should provide basic public services to all Americans, ranging from postal banking to public child care to a national retirement savings option. In A NEW DEAL FOR OLD AGE (Harvard University Press 2016), I considered how ideals of justice over the life cycle should lead us to reform Social Security to address growing inequalities in income and lifespan.

Among my older books, THE STAKEHOLDER SOCIETY (with Bruce Ackerman; Yale University Press 1999) helped build the intellectual foundations for baby bonds. In NO EXIT (Oxford University Press 2004), I made a principled argument for social support for parents — addressing objections made by the childless.