The role of social science expertise in same-sex marriage litigation

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This article examines the role of social science in US same-sex marriage (SSM) court cases. The existing literature on the role of social science in courts is inconclusive, with studies suggesting social science exerts influence in some but not all areas of law. The literature on social science in SSM litigation is in its formative stage. This article reviews key SSM cases-including the three SSM trials and recent US Supreme Court cases-and describes how litigants and other interested parties invoked social science to address several key points related to legal recognition of SSM. A review of these cases suggests that social science may have exerted influence in SSM litigation because of the large volume of available evidence, the high level of scientific consensus on key issues, and contextual factors such as shifts in public opinion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)471-491
Number of pages21
JournalAnnual Review of Law and Social Science
StatePublished - Oct 13 2017

Bibliographical note

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Copyright ©2017 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.


  • Courts
  • Expertise
  • Litigation
  • Same-sex marriage
  • Social science


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