FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: Thomas B. McAffee
As almost every Boyd graduate knows, Thomas B. McAffee is an expert on the Constitution and an advocate for its thoughtful interpretation. One of the founding faculty members at Boyd, he has been teaching in law schools for more than 30 years.
1. What are you working on? I am completing the research and writing of a book I've worked on for almost two years. The tentative title is Mormonism and Marriage Equality: History, Law, and Prospects. It documents the evolving Latter-day Saints (LDS) perspective on homosexuality and gay rights, the change from the 1960s to 2015 being more dramatic than one might imagine. Exemplary is that LDS leaders supported repealing orientation employment discrimination laws in the 1970s, and in 2015 endorsed the Utah anti-discrimination law that was adopted. The book also carefully reviews the role of the church in the 25 years of debate over marriage equality. It is largely addressed to the thoughtful LDS member and leader, ultimately examining the prospects for any further evolution -- but will hopefully be of interest to any thoughtful person.
2. Which of your recent articles should I read? I would recommend "Setting Us Up for Disaster: The Supreme Court's Decision in Terry v. Ohio," 12 Nev. L.J. 609 (2012). This is a rare Fourth Amendment article, produced for a symposium issue on "disastrous" Supreme Court opinions. It charmingly explains how the stop and frisk decision that seemed almost expansive in securing Fourth Amendment rights has been construed and applied to contribute immensely to eviscerating the security offered by the Fourth Amendment. Mainly it was fun to write and will be fun to read (not being too long, for example). Read this and it may convince you to take Criminal Procedure: Investigations.
3. How has your research and writing affected your teaching? I'm always astonished that whenever I go to "explain" something to support a scholarly thesis, I discover that there is more to learn -- and to think about -- if I am going to state the underlying ideas in an understandable and convincing fashion. This semester I will teach Lawrence v. Texas, invalidating laws making sodomy a crime, for at least the 10th time. This past year I came to fully appreciate that Lawrence is not really a decision about sex (even adult consensual sex), but is really about relationships -- and in particular the intimate relationship of gay couples. And now I fully perceive the decisive role it played to further our journey on the path to marriage equality this year. So the idea that our legal scholarship can contribute to teaching law is no myth.