From No-Fault Divorce to Same-Sex Marriage:

The American Law Institute’s Role in Deconstructing the Family

By Ryan C. MacPherson, Ph.D.

Published in The Family in America 25, no. 2 (Spring 2011): 125–40.



The Family in America

Legislative reforms that have prohibited American courts from finding fault when a man and a woman divorce are now leading the nation toward a situation in which no state would be permitted to deny a same-sex couple’s application for marriage. This turn of events owes its course not so much to special interest groups, legislators, or judges, but to the academic lawyers of the American Law Institute (ALI). The history of the institute’s work and influence will reveal how no-fault divorce legislation paved the way for academic elites to urge state-creation of same-sex marriage. Indeed, the origins of the ALI, its philosophical foundations, and its success in segregating public policy from private morality laid the groundwork not only for the institute’s central role in the no-fault divorce revolution, but also its powerful presence in the current agitation for legal recognition of same-sex marriage. As with no-fault divorce, so also with same-sex marriage: the lesson of experience may well be that neither liberty nor equality can long endure when the state hollows out its own natural foundation, namely, the lifelong union of a man and a woman.



  • Law Professors as Social Engineers
  • The Privatization of Immorality: The ALI Meets Kinsey
  • Disguising Social Engineering as Routine Policy Simplification
  • Case Law Surrogates: The Institute’s Drafts of Principles
  • The Law Institute and the Supreme Court




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