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Mae Kuykendall - Michigan State University. East Lansing, MI, US

Mae Kuykendall

Professor of Law | Michigan State University


Professor Kuykendall has a scholarly interest in the relationship between legal definitions of marriage and the common usage of the word.






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Professor Kuykendall has a scholarly interest in the relationship between legal definitions of marriage and the evolving common usage of the word. She also writes in the area of corporate law and has co-chaired MSU Law's concentration in the area. She helped revise the Michigan Nonprofit Corporation Act and has been the reporter of the Michigan Business Corporation Act. She has planned Michigan State Law Review symposia, including "Business Law and Narrative" in September 2009, and "Modernizing Marriage through E-Marriage" in November 2010. She has published extensively in law reviews and leading blogs.

Prior to her law career, Professor Kuykendall conducted civil justice research in an office attached to the U.S. Office of the Attorney General at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. She served as Mid-Atlantic Regional Director for the National Center for State Courts, and was the first woman and first non-lawyer in the country to hold the position. Upon receiving her Juris Doctor degree, Kuykendall clerked for the Honorable Joseph W. Hatchett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. She then spent six years as an associate in the New York City firm of Debevoise & Plimpton, practicing in the area of corporate finance.

Industry Expertise (3)

Writing and Editing


Legal Services

Areas of Expertise (9)

Organizational Governance and Dissent

First Amendment

Corporate Finance

Corporate Law & Policy


Constitutional Law

Mergers & Acquisitions

Business Law and Narrative

Law and Gender

Education (4)

Harvard University Law School: J.D. 1985

Instructor, Legal Methods, Fall Term 1984-85

University of North Carolina: M.A., Political Science 1972

Fields: Public Law; Judicial Process; American Politics Master’s Thesis: “The United States Supreme Court and Judicial Conflict”

University of Houston: B.A., Political Science 1969

summa cum laude

University of North Carolina: Ph.D., Political Science 1980

Ph.D. Dissertation: “Democratic, Legal and Administrative Values in Courts” National Defense Education Act Fellow

Affiliations (5)

  • Michigan State Law Review Symposium on Modernizing Marriage Through E-Marriage : Planner and Faculty Organizer
  • Legal E-Marriage Project : Director
  • American Association of University Professors : President
  • Executive Committee of Michigan Conference : Member
  • American Association of University Professors : Acting President

News (7)

Soccer star wants to marry his two girlfriends at the same time

Yahoo!  online


Polygamy is also illegal in the United States, Mae Kuykendall, a professor of law at Michigan State University, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “No American state validates marriages entered into by more than two people,” she says. Utah tried to criminalise polygamous arrangements, but a federal court ruled the law unconstitutional because it applied to voluntary living arrangements, she points out. “Nonetheless, states in the past have had criminal statutes directed at officially authorized marriages between two people of the same sex,” she says.

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Banning transgender students' bathroom choices would violate federal law, experts say

MLive  online


Limiting transgender students' ability to use restrooms that don't match their sex at birth - as one state lawmaker is proposing - would violate federal law and could result in lawsuits, legal experts say.

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Gay marriage debate's next front? Reciprocity

USA Today  online


There's a new front in the fight over gay marriage: state-by-state reciprocity. A legal term for one state recognizing the policy and laws of another, reciprocity will prove central in the fast-approaching debate over whether the three-dozen states with bans on same-sex marriage will have to recognize those performed elsewhere.

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A Way Out of the Same-Sex Marriage Mess

The New York Times  online


THE debate over same-sex marriage in the United States has become a battle between two totally opposing visions. Proponents of gay equality want the Supreme Court to proclaim same-sex marriage a fundamental right of citizens, which the court, given its conservative bent, seems unlikely to do. Opponents dream of a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions, which also seems improbable, given rapidly evolving attitudes toward homosexuality.

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Distant marriage: States allow Skype ‘I do’?

Futurity  online


States should modernize marriage laws by allowing couples to marry outside state borders, utilizing videoconferencing technologies such as Skype, according to a first-of-its-kind proposal by two law professors.

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‘I Do, I Skype’

MSU Today  online


Under a first-of-its-kind proposal by two Michigan State University law professors urging states to adopt distance marriage, same-sex couples, elderly and ill couples and those deployed could enjoy the ceremonial rituals of a wedding without worrying about geographical boundaries.

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MSU Law Professors Seek to Modernize Marriage With E-marriage Project

MSU Today  online


Michigan State University College of Law professors Adam Candeub and Mae Kuykendall have created the Legal E-Marriage Project, a clearinghouse for legislative proposals to institute "e-marriage."

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Journal Articles (3)

Producing Corporate Text: Courtrooms, Conference Rooms, and Classrooms

New York Law School Law Review

Mae Kuykendall

2010 Efforts to account for corporate law using economic analysis do not address the pervasive professional concern with the production of legal text. For this reason, analysis of Delaware corporate law as sub-optimal because it permits inefficient litigation does not acknowledge or analyze the collaboration among Delaware corporations, Delaware lawyers, and Delaware judges to produce corporate text. The collaboration produces a socially valuable product - sophisticated writing about the corporation fed by rich cultural sources - for which there is a set of readers willing to pay a premium. Moreover, these readers use the texts to produce the re-readings that active readers provide for texts, and new writings, that enhance the social and legal understanding and functioning of the corporation by situating it in a body of expert text. The Caremark case, and its echoes in Disney, are the exemplars of this phenomenon. Both are widely read and discussed as a source of moral and practical insight, even though neither produced a legal outcome imposing a penalty on corporate directors.

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Modernizing Marriage

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Adam Candeub, Mae Kuykendall

2010 Debates over marriage have focused on culturally contested marriages, such as those between same-sex couples. These controversies involve evaluations of marriage as a social practice, its oversight by the state, and its constitutional significance. They distract attention from the statutes that prescribe the mechanics for getting married. Such neglect is odd given lawyers’ keen sensitivity to the relationship between procedure and substantive outcomes and unfortunate given the archaic nature of marriage formation law.

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President Bush, Gay Marriage, and the Constitution: A Tangled Web

13 Widener Law Journal 799

M Kuykendall

2004 President Bush's support for a Federal Marriage Amendment to require that marriage in the United States be limited to a man and a woman is not presented with sufficient clarity about the underlying arguments. On examination, the proposal is defective in reasoning and radical in constitutional import.

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