The Family Waynby John WaucknWhen family pride ceases to act, individual selfishness comes into play.”n— TocquevillenThe Transformation of FamilynLaw, State Law, and Family in thenUnited States and Western Europenby Mary Ann GlendonnChicago: University of Chicago Press;n320 pp., $37.50nHniinappy families are all alike; everynunhappy family is unhappynin its own way.” I’ve always thoughtnthat Tolstoy underestimated the varietynof happy families, but his dictum definitelynholds true from at least one pointnof view, that of family law. While happynfamilies present smooth, blank faces tonthe civil law (all decisions might as wellnreflect harmonious bliss as far as the lawnis concerned), an unhappy family easilynbecomes a strikingly particularizednthicket of rights, grievances, stipulations,nrestrictions, economic calculations, andnretribution. Suddenly things get veryncolorful indeed.nIn The Transformation of FamilynLaw Mary Ann Glendon, a professornat Harvard Law School, seeks to discern,nwith special attention to recentnplot developments in the convolutednnarrative, the sort of “stories” toldnabout families and human relationshipsn]ohn Wauck is a contributing editor ofnThe Human Life Review.n36/CHRONICLESnby our laws. Since being hired bynHarvard and winning the 1988 SeriesnBook Award for Abortion and Divorcenin Western Law, Glendon seems tonhave become something of a hot commoditynon the family law publishingncircuit. The general thesis of this newnbook, a revision of an eadier booknentitled Law and Family, published inn1977, is that marriage is losing itsnprivileged status in Western society. Asnthe current joke goes, “The only peoplenwho still want to get married arenCatholic priests and homosexuals.”nLegally, marriage is becoming lessndistinguishable from cohabitation andnthe single life. Paradoxically, thisnleveling-down has coincided with greatnrhetorical flourishes about the supremenvalue of marriage. For example, inn1967, in the case oi Loving v. Virginia,nthe Supreme Court discovered a hithertonunknown constitutional “right tonmarry.” But this is not necessarily annelevation of marriage as such, for asnGlendon approvingly quotes LaurencenTribe, “Such ‘exercises of familialnrights and responsibilities’ as remain [innour civil law] prove to be individualnpowers to resist governmental determinationnof who shall be born, withnwhom one shall live and what valuesnshall be transmitted.” It isn’t reallynmarriage that’s being protected.nnn.5i^ig->%fe>nAmong the choicer ironies here isnthe case of artificial contraception,nwhich the Supreme Court legalized fornmarried couples of the basis of thenprivacy demanded by the “sacred precinctsnof the marriage bed.” Subsequentiy,nit turned out that the marriagenbed’s sacredness was quite irrelevant tonthis right of privacy, for in Eisenstadt v.nBaird, the Court decided that contraceptionnwas legal for anyone who carednto have sex. And in doing so, the Courtnspecifically stated that a “marital couplenis not an independent entity . . .nbut an association of two individuals”nno different, as far as the Court wasnthen concerned, from a couple ofnfornicating kids. A further irony is thatnthe relaxation of laws restricting marriagenand divorce in the 60’s wasndesigned to make marriage more attractivenand less of a burden, lest couplesnbe tempted to cohabit in informalnunions. Needless to say, things didn’tnwork out that way; both cohabitationnand divorce skyrocketed.nIndeed, in the last twenty years,nthroughout the West, the birthrate andnmarriage rate have tumbled, while thenrates of divorce and illegitimate birthnhave soared. Although history has seennmany fluctuations in these rates, thesensimultaneous changes have been, asnGlendon notes, unusually substantial,n