Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University
This Month @ Moritz

Equality at the Core of Professor Marc Spindelman's Academic Agenda

Marc SpindelmanMarc Spindelman loved law school. He attended the "School up North," and identifies two key relationships that helped to form his views. For one, he worked as a research assistant for Professor Yale Kamisar, the legendary criminal procedure scholar. Marc assisted Kamisar mostly on his research and writing relating to the "right to die." "Among the many things Professor Kamisar taught me was that law is real, a human creation," Marc says. "He showed me in various ways that law could be used to protect and defend—or to hurt—the little guy, the underdog."

Given these lessons, it is no surprise that Marc has developed a scholarly agenda focused on exploring issues of substantive equality and how they play out in various areas of the law—starting with bioethics. In his writing, Marc has expressed concerns that advocates of assisted suicide laws may not have adequately recognized the implications of legalizing the practice for disadvantaged sectors of the population. He sees a real risk that background social inequalities could improperly shape the decisions that patients and doctors make under facially neutral "death with dignity" laws. Marc will continue to advocate, in practical and philosophical terms, for counterpoints to the autonomy-oriented perspective that, in his view, tends to drive the biomedical research agenda.

Marc's experience with Professor Kamisar was not the only one that exerted a profound influence on his intellectual development. He took a seminar on sexual harassment with Professor Catharine MacKinnon, also a giant in her field, and pursued independent study with MacKinnon as well. Marc recalls that MacKinnon "brought incredible energy into the room. I was trying to figure things out in traditional legal terms. She taught me to go beyond legal doctrine and to understand law in light of a theory of how the world is structured." Kamisar inspired Marc's work and instilled in him the confidence to confront injustice in law. MacKinnon exposed Marc to new horizons, showing him how deep inequality can run and suggesting how far justice should go.

Marc's leadership in developing the College's Lawrence v. Texas symposium in the fall of 2003 was the natural extension of his interest in exploring social equality. Under Marc's leadership, the Ohio State Law Journal hosted legal luminaries MacKinnon and Cass Sunstein, and panelists from Georgetown, Cornell, Northwestern, Texas, and other universities for a thoughtful discussion of the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision striking down sodomy laws on privacy, equality and constitutionalism.

In addition to teaching upper-class courses on Family Law, Health Law, and Bioethics, and more recently, a first-year course on Constitutional Law, Marc has taught in the College's unique first-year legal writing program. "The one-on-one learning in the first-year legal writing program is tremendously exciting," he says. "I can see the progress, and I feel I have participated directly and concretely in their intellectual development." Teaching first-years has taught him about "how students get acculturated to the legal game."

As Marc reflected on his first few years of teaching at the Moritz College of Law, he noted his pleasure at finding students "very willing to engage in the world of ideas." In all his classes, he invites his students to imagine themselves answering legal questions from the positions of authority they will hold; the swing vote on an appellate panel deciding, for example, whether a genetic disorder with potential future consequences should qualify as an insurable condition, or as a legislator proposing reforms to the doctrine of informed consent or seeking to regulate some activity under the Commerce Clause. He wants his students to see how they might be confronted with tough choices in the future. It is clear that, for Marc, scholarship and teaching are closely interrelated.

It is safe to say that Marc's students and colleagues are benefiting from the energy and insight he brings to the college.



Outing Lawrence, __ Michigan Law Review ___ (forthcoming 2004) (invited).

Sex Equality Panic, 13 Columbia Journal of Gender and Law 1 (forthcoming 2004).

Discriminating Pleasures, in Directions in Sexual Harassment Law 201 (Catharine A. MacKinnon and Reva Siegel eds., 2003) (invited).

A Dissent from the Many Dissents from Attorney General Ashcroft's Interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act, 19 Issues in Law and Medicine 3 (2003) (peer reviewed).

Sodomy Politics in Lawrence v. Texas, Jurist, June 12, 2003, available online at: <>.

Legislating Privilege, 30 Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 24 (invited) (2002).

Reorienting Bowers v. Hardwick, 79 North Carolina Law Review 359 (2001).

Some Initial Thoughts on Sexuality and Gay Men with AIDS in Relation to Physician-Assisted Suicide, 2 Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law 91 (2001).

Oncale: Exposing Manhood, 8 UCLA Women's L. J. 3 (with John Stoltenberg) (1997).

Are the Similarities Between a Woman's Right to Choose an Abortion and the Alleged Right to Assisted Suicide Really Compelling? 29 Univ. of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 775 (1996).

Ninth Circuit Ignores Medical Experience at Our Peril, II BioLaws: 159 (with Margot White) (July-Aug.1996).