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Dressing Constitutionally
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Book description

This book examines how the intertwining of clothes and the United States Constitution raises fundamental questions of hierarchy, sexuality and democracy. Constitutional considerations both constrain and confirm daily choices. In turn, appearances provide multilayered perspectives on the Constitution and its interpretations. Garments often raise First Amendment issues of expression or religion, but they also prompt questions of equality on the basis of gender, race and sexuality. At work, in court, in schools, in prisons and on the streets, clothes and grooming provoke constitutional controversies. Additionally, the production, trade and consumption of apparel implicates constitutional concerns including colonial sumptuary laws, slavery, wage and hour laws, and current notions of free trade. The regulation of what we wear - or do not - is ubiquitous. From a noted constitutional scholar and commentator, this book examines the rights to expression and equality, as well as the restraints on government power, as they both limit and allow control of our most personal choices of attire and grooming.


‘Dressing Constitutionally is an important book on an important subject: how the law affects how we look and what forms of self-expression are protected. Combining thorough research and engaging stories, Robson’s account should make us rethink the role of constitutional doctrine, and its effect on personal liberty and social equality.’

Deborah L. Rhode - E. W. McFarland Professor of Law, Stanford University

‘Dressing Constitutionally offers a dazzling and a dizzying array of constitutional doctrine, ranging from whether students have the right to wear arm bands as a protest against government policies to whether criminal defendants can be required to wear leg shackles in courts, from whether the Fourth Amendment permits strip searches when persons are stopped for minor offences to whether the First Amendment protects strip teases. Examining topics cutting across personal and public life, Ruthann Robson teaches us that we are all cloaked in the mantle of the law.’

Judith Resnik - Arthur Liman Professor of Law, Yale Law School

'The book is fantastic … Each chapter is thickly layered with individual stories, historical moments, and case reviews. The connections between and amongst the identified parts are beautifully drawn. The writing is lucid and mature. The book is Robson at her best.'

Kim Brooks Source: Jotwell

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