E-marriage at the AALS

Larry Ribstein —  3 January 2011

I’ll be speaking at the AALS on a “hot topic” devoted to this interesting subject, Yosemite C, ballroom level at the Hilton, 4-5:45 January 7.  Here’s a brief excerpt from a longer description  of the program:

The panel explores the likelihood that technology, modern-day mobility, and patterns in affiliation will produce increasing numbers of marriage formalizations that do not strictly conform to a requirement of physical presence by all parties in the granting jurisdiction.  * * * Among the issues the panel will explore are 1) the practical value to a couple of an official marriage ceremony in a state that will deny recognition to the marriage, 2) the potential for backlash in the instance of gay marriage, 3) the legal and long-term cultural acceptability of limiting relief from the physical presence requirement to couples either chosen by state statutory law (active duty military, prisoners, the moribund) or clerk discretion, 4) prudent forms that state legislation might take, 5) the incentives for states to pass legislation modernizing marriage procedure for a mobile society, and 6) the risks that states will withhold recognition to marriages on the basis of the procedure, despite being willing to recognize the substance, of a marriage authorized by another state.

Other panelists are Joanna Grossman (Hofstra), Mae Kuykendall and Adam Candeub  (MSU), Monu Bedi  (Stetson), Aviva Abramovsky   (Syracuse) and June Carbone  (UMKC).  Here’s a website on the project, and the Candeub and Kuykendall article that started it all.  I blogged on the subject here and here.  

My interest stems from my writings on jurisdictional competition generally and on marriage in particular. See my articles Calling a Truce in the Marriage Wars (with Buckley) and A Standard Form Approach to Same-Sex Marriage, and Chapter 8 of my book with O’Hara, The Law Market.

Although I’m big on jurisdictional competition for marriage, and I like the creativity that has gone into this proposal, I have some skepticism about what might be accomplished by e-marriage, which I’ll share at the AALS.

And while we’re talking about e-marriage, how about e-abortion:

[T]elemedicine abortions. . . allow women to go to a branch clinic to consult via Internet videoconferencing with a physician located miles away. Then, with the push of a remote control, the doctor can open a drawer in the clinic that contains RU-486, known as the abortion pill.

Currently, telemedicine abortions are available only in Iowa, where more than 2,000 women have used the practice since 2008 through the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliate. Previously, the organization provided abortions at half a dozen clinics, concentrated in the state’s larger cities. Because of the telemedicine program, women in the first nine weeks of pregnancy can obtain abortion pills at most of the organization’s 19 centers, which are scattered across the state.

Supporters say the program provides a vital service to women in the state’s rural reaches, where abortions can be virtually impossible to obtain. They say the process is identical to an in-person appointment.

Larry Ribstein

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Professor of Law, University of Illinois College of Law

One response to E-marriage at the AALS

  1. 
    Walter Sobchak 3 January 2011 at 9:47 pm

    Proxy marriages have been around for a very long time. They are recognized in Israel, and because the only domestic marriages are by the demented and fanatical orthodox rabbinate, they are popular.