Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Elizabeth Cady Stanton on Frederick Douglass' Interracial Marriage

 I have been blogging, chapter by chapter, about my new book, Elizabeth Cady Stanton & the Feminist Foundations of Family Law (NYU Press 2016). Chapter 1 was "What Do You Women Want?" on marital property reform and Chapter 2 was "The Pivot of the Marriage Relation" on marriage equality and restructuring marriage.

ECSFD

 

 Sticking with Chapter 2, here is an excerpt I have been reading at book talks:

Stanton’s second goal was to offer a solution that would transform marriage into a relation respecting women’s equal individuality. Her proposal was to conceptualize marriage legally as a contract, rather than a sacrament or status, which would allow freedom to designate the terms and the termination of the marriage.[i] Socially, she advocated an egalitarian vision of marriage as a union of soul mates that fully respected the freedom of each individual as they worked together as partners in the joint enterprise of the family. This transformational vision of marriage required little state regulation, permitting free divorce and other restrictions on choice of marital partner. Stanton believed in the theoretical ideal of free love, resulting “whenever compulsion and restraint, whether of the law or of a dogmatic and oppressive public opinion, are removed.”[ii]

 

So when her friend Frederick Douglass remarried to Helen Pitts, a white woman, she sent her personal congratulations and support for his subversive act. She noted that

there’s much hostile criticism on your condescension in marrying a white woman. After all the terrible battles and political upheavals we have had in expurgating our Constitutions of that odious adjective “white” it is really remarkable that you or all men should have stooped to do it honor. The “white” feature of this contract is bad enough, but “the woman” is still worse.

 

Stanton commented on the gender implications of the controversy, in which his “large circle of admiring friends protest” against him risking his legacy as a black civil rights leader on white interests, especially those of a mere woman.[iii] Stanton wanted to draft a public announcement of support for Douglass from both her and Anthony and invite him to speak at the next women’s rights convention. Anthony refused, concerned with the potential backlash on “the subject of amalgamation” against the growing consensus on women’s suffrage. Anthony wrote to Stanton, “I do hope you won’t put your foot into the question of intermarriage of the races. It has no place on our platform, any more than the question of no marriage at all, or of polygamy, and so far as I can prevent it, shall not be brought there.” She pleaded, do not “throw around that marriage the halo of a pure and lofty duty to break down race lines.”[iv] For Stanton had publicly supported interracial marriage before, attending legislative hearings in Boston to repeal colonial miscegenation laws and printing an editorial in her newspaper in support of interracial marriage.[v] But this time, she backed down.

 

Despite the suggestion that marriage was not a proper issue of women’s rights, for Stanton, it was central to her vision of equality. Changing the marriage relation, she wrote early in the movement, “is at the foundation of all reforms.”[vi]

 

Notes

[i] ECS, “Side Issues,” Rev., Oct. 6, 1870; ECS, “The Kernel of the Question,” Rev., Nov. 4, 1869.

[ii] DuBois, “On Labor,” 65.

[iii] ECS to Frederick Douglass, June 27, 1884; see Maria Diedrich, Love across Color Lines (New York: Hill and Wang, 1999).

[iv] SBA to ECS, Jan. 27, 1884; Newman, 4.

[v] ECS to Elizabeth J. Neall, Feb. 3, 1843; “Theodore Tilton’s Opinion of Anna E. Dickinson,” Rev., Nov. 5, 1868.

[vi] ECS to SBA, Mar. 1, [1852].

 

 

December 8, 2016 in Books, Family, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Podcasts on Women in the Law from Law School Transparency

The new podcasts on Women in the Law have been released.

From their summary:

Over six weeks, this podcast mini-series will advance the conversation on the many challenges, both professional and personal, that women continue to face as members of the legal profession. Through first-person narratives, thoughtful conversations, and synthesis of economic and social science research, this show will add to the myriad of work fighting against decades of systemic problems.

 

We hope to empower both women and men to recognize and constructively address a wide range of workplace issues that negatively impact women, the organizations and firms they work for, the clients they represent, and the society we all live in.

Topics include:

Hey Sweetie! Sexism in the Legal Workplace

In the Media: How Women Lawyers are Portrayed on TV and in the News

Leaky Pipeline 1: Examining the Premise of a Leaky Pipeline

Leaky Pipeline 2: From Hiring to Retention to Leadership

Multiple Identities: Intersectional Challenges in the Legal Profession

Solutions: Rules, Sanctions, and Awareness

  The New York Times had a recent article on the leaky pipeline research highlighted in the podcasts: More Law Degrees for Women, but Fewer Good Jobs  

 

December 8, 2016 in Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Stanton, Feminism & the Family:  “The whole question of women’s rights turns on the pivot of the marriage relation.”

I have been blogging, chapter by chapter, about my new book, Elizabeth Cady Stanton & the Feminist Foundations of Family Law (NYU Press 2016). Chapter 1 was "What Do You Women Want?" on marital property reform.  

Today, is chapter 2.

ThomasStantonBookJacket

Chapter 2, “The Pivot of the Marriage Relation” addresses Stanton’s key philosophical premise that equality in marriage was as important as equality in public, church, and state.

I do not know that the world is quite willing or ready to discuss the question of marriage. . . . It is in vain to look for the elevation of woman, so long as she is degraded in marriage. . . . The right idea of marriage is at the foundation of all reforms. . . . I feel this whole question of woman’s rights turns on the pivot of the marriage relation, and sooner or later it will be the question for discussion.

—Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Susan B. Anthony, Mar. 1, [1852]

Marriage needed “pivot,” to do an about-face from the slave-like subordinated status of married women under coverture to an autonomous, individual partner of a marital partnership. For this first feminist, family was not opposed to women’s rights, but was a key site of needed change. The public and private spheres were not segregated as feminist theory first developed.

Stanton’s critiques and theories of marriage were colored by her own disappointing personal experience in marriage. She had dreamed, and often espoused, the idea of a close companion, a soulmate, with whom a woman shared family, work, and intimacy. Instead, she was married to abolitionist and some-time lawyer Henry Stanton who was fully absorbed in his own (unrealized) political ambition. Henry spent most of their married life living elsewhere, working on a political campaign or issue in another city or state, while Elizabeth raised their seven children. The two finally set up separately households in their fifties, visiting and remaining cordial for family events.

Philosophically, Stanton’s first objective was to establish that marriage was a problem. She made her point sometimes symbolically, using metaphors like slavery which her audience understood, and lamenting the wife’s duty to obey and take her husband’s name, “Mrs. Henry Stanton.”    

Stanton’s radical “Man Marriage” critique presented in speeches and newspaper editorials conveyed this idea of the oppressive nature of marriage on a more sophisticated level. Like modern feminist legal theorists, she deconstructed the seeming objectivity of the law to show how the laws of marriage were made “by and for the benefit of men.”  She applied this critique to the controversy over Mormon polygamy, subversively suggesting that polygamy was no worse than monogamy for women.

Stanton’s second objective was to offer a corrective solution to the problem of marriage. Her reconstructive ideal conceptualized marriage as a contract. Marriage as a contract, rather than a status, changed everything legally for Stanton. It supported the notion of a legal partnership of equals, free modification of termination of that contract by divorce, as well as state laws of higher age for marriage and abolition of common law marriage.

December 6, 2016 in Books, Family, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 2, 2016

"What Do You Women Want?": The 19 Century Women's Demand for Reform of Marital Property

This is part of a continuing series blogging about my new book, Elizabeth Cady Stanton & the Feminist Foundations of Family Law (NYU Press 2016). Today, is chapter 1.

ThomasStantonBookJacket

“What do you women want?” That was the question Elizabeth Cady Stanton was asked by the New York legislature in 1854. She responded with a long-list of demands for marital property, child custody, domestic violence protections, women on juries, tax exemptions for widows, and wholescale elimination of coverture.

These many goals were laid out by Stanton in her Declaration of Sentiments delivered at the Woman’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, New York in July 1848. (Now the site of the Women's Rights National Historical Park). The Declaration was Stanton’s road map for reform, in that she articulated 17 demands for reform of state, law, church, and the family in order to accomplish women’s full equality of opportunity.

Stanton began her fifty-years of legal and political advocacy for women’s rights on the issue of marital property. This was her starting point, and so it is the starting point for the book. In 1848, the NY legislature was considering reforms to the property laws that prevented married women from owning property, either separate, earned, inherited, or marital. It was supported by some expressed feminist concerns, but more by business concerns with recession, transferability of property, and family debt protection.  But the issue was at the front and center, with Married Women’s Property Acts beginning to be passed across the nation, and grassroots advocacy happening in Stanton’s close circle.

Stanton also started with the issue of marital property as it was the one that involved her personally. Her father, Daniel Cady, was a respected property and equity lawyer, legislator, and jurist. He was in the inner group of those considering legal reform, reformers who interacted with Stanton. Stanton also learned the law from her father, in what I call a “de facto apprenticeship,” observing his clients and trials, reading law with his apprentices, and serving one year as his clerk. This legal training and ability to “think like a lawyer” would serve her well. But her own attempts to own and earn separate property, to make up for her under-employed husband, ran smack into the limitations of coverture.

After introducing Stanton’s personal training and experience with the law of marital property, this chapter traces her philosophies, speeches, and proposals for legal reform. These included marital property laws that envisioned joint ownership of martial property – an idea that was not on the table in the Married Women’s Property Acts that merely allowed a woman to retain separate ownership of premarital or separately inherited (and later earned) property. She also advanced ideas of “taxation without representation,” challenging the taxation of widows’ property without the corresponding right of a property owner to vote.

The chapter also explores Stanton’s attempt to capitalize on the newly-enacted Privileges & Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which Stanton though was self-evidently empowering for sex equality. The Supreme Court, however, quickly squashed the expected interpretation of the clause to apply to voting or a generalized sex equality. Had Stanton’s view prevailed, much on women’s legal equality would have been different.

Here is an excerpt:  Download ExcerptStantonChap1

December 2, 2016 in Books, Constitutional, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

New in Books: Stanton and the Feminist Foundations of Family Law

I'm excited to report that my new book is out today, after 12 years (!) in the making.  I will be blogging and tweeting about it this week to provide a preview of the different chapters.

 

The book has several goals.  First, it reveals new information about the legal advocacy of Stanton, the leading feminist of the nineteenth-century women's rights movement,  for reform of the family and gender equality.  We generally think of advances in sex equality in marriage and the family coming in the 1970s.  This book shows that such reform was a major platform of Stanton's holistic feminist philosophy 120 years earlier, and that the private sphere was not divorced from the public sphere in her original feminist theorizing.  The second goal of the book is to integrate women's experience and public advocacy into the mainstream thought of family law.  Family law has been conceptualized as one type of narrative focused much on contract and property, oblivious to the very public advocacy of Stanton and others for rejecting the coverture laws subordinating women and demanding equality of law in marital property, marriage partnership, no-fault divorce, maternal custody, and domestic violence remedies.

The introduction is available here.  This first part introduces Stanton to unfamiliar audiences (though she needed no introduction in her day -- I call her the "Oprah of the 19c"), outlines the framework for the book and the history of family law, and discusses a bit of the theoretical approach and what it means to engage in applied legal history. 

 

Table of Contents

     Introduction: The “Radical Conscience” of Nineteenth-Century Feminism

    1.  “What Do You Women Want?” [on marital property and privileges & immunities]

    2. “The Pivot of the Marriage Relation” [on marital partnership]

    3.  “Divorce Is Not the Foe of Marriage” [on domestic violence and divorce]

    4.  The “Incidental Relation” of Mother [on reproductive rights]

    5.   Raising “Our Girls” [on maternal custody, parenting, and The Woman's Bible]

    Conclusion: “Still Many Obstacles” [on Stanton's legacy in 21st century family law]

 

The book is available from Amazon or the publisher, NYU Press

 

November 29, 2016 in Books, Family | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tampon Taxes and Gender Equality in Taxes

Bridget Crawford & Carla Spivack, Tampon Taxes, Equal Protection and Human Rights, Wisconsin L. Rev. (forthcoming):

Abstract:     

In recent months, activists around the globe have harnessed the power of the Internet to raise awareness of the so-called “tampon tax,” an umbrella term to describe sales, VAT and similar “luxury” taxes imposed on menstrual hygiene products. In response to pressure from constituents, five U.S. states and Canada have repealed their tampon tax. Active campaigns are underway in Australia, the United Kingdom and several other countries. Where public pressure has not been an effective technique, those seeking to challenge the tampon tax in the United States have turned to litigation. In four U.S. states, class action lawsuits have been filed seeking repeal of the tax and a refund for back taxes paid, alleging equal protection violations. In the international context, human rights law provides a promising foundation for similar legal challenges to the tampon tax because human rights law takes a capacious approach to gender equality. In the European Court of Human Rights, for example, there are several tax cases that recognize gender-differentiated taxes as a form of impermissible discrimination. This Article explains how the tampon tax violates equal protection and human rights norms. The tax also shows how deeply embedded gender is in matters of tax policy. Full realization of gender equality will require revision of tax laws.

Girls and women use tampons and sanitary napkins for multiple days every month for at least 30 years because of their biology. At first glance, the tampon tax might appear to be the result of a misclassification of menstrual hygiene products as luxuries, while items like Rogaine and condoms, for example, generally avoid taxation. But these comparisons are inapt, as it is difficult to find a precise male analog to the menstrual hygiene products that women use. Nor is it adequate to explain the existence of the tampon tax as the product of women’s historic absence from the legislature. This explanation is both simplistic and incomplete. Women’s bodies in general and menstruation in particular have been and continue to be the source of great cultural (and legal) unease. Women’s (involuntary) bleeding is meant to happen “out of sight, out of mind,” whereas men’s (voluntary) bleeding in war is meant to be celebrated.

 

November 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Unifying Antidiscrimination Law Through Stereotype Theory

Stephanie Bornstein, Unifying Antidiscrimination Law Through Stereotype Theory, 20 Lewis & Clark L.Rev. 919 (2016) 

This Article argues that theoretical and doctrinal advances in sex stereotyping cases have broad application, with the potential to reinvigorate employment discrimination litigation under Title VII as a whole. The Article suggests that precedent from pioneering sex discrimination cases can and should be applied to cases alleging discrimination on other bases, including race and national origin. It proposes a more coherent, unified approach to antidiscrimination law that capitalizes on recent courts’ recognition of the operation of sex stereotypes at work. In an era in which the advancement of equality has stalled in both the workplace and the Supreme Court, a unified approach to Title VII litigation framed around stereotype theory offers an important path forward for antidiscrimination law.

November 22, 2016 in Equal Employment, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

CFP Litigating Women in Medieval and Early Modern Times

Call for Papers Litigating Women: Negotiating Justice in Courts of Law c.1100-c.1750

As part of the AHRC-funded project ‘Women Negotiating the Boundaries of Justice’, and in conjunction with Swansea University’s annual ‘Symposium by the Sea’, we are pleased to announce a two-day symposium on the female litigant in the medieval and early modern period (c.1100-c.1750). The intention is to bring scholars together in order to explore women’s access to legal redress and to shed new light on individuals’ lived experiences of the law. We are seeking 25-minute papers from researchers (of all career-stages) working on any aspect of the history of women litigating in the courts across the known world during this broad timeframe. We welcome work on all courts, regions, jurisdictions, ethnicities, languages and religious and confessional identities, and on any aspect of those histories or historiographies. Post-graduate students are encouraged to apply.

 

Topics and approaches might include:

  • The operation of gender in the courts.
  • The practicalities of litigation: travel, subsistence, accommodation, planning and expense.
  • The impact of a woman’s life-stage, status or ethnicity on her experience at law.
  • The woman’s voice and barriers to its ‘audibility’.
  • Visual or textual representation of the female litigant.
  • Specific case-studies and longue durée perspectives.
  • Historiography and ‘where do we go from here?’.

Applicants are invited to submit by 21 January 2017 a proposal of c.500 words, together with a short biography for inclusion in the programme.

November 16, 2016 in Call for Papers, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Gendered Effects of Economic Inequality

Michele Gilman, En-Gendering Economic Inequality, 32 Columbia J. Gender & Law 1 (2016)

Abstract:     

We live in an era of growing economic inequality. Luminaries ranging from the President to the Pope to economist Thomas Piketty in his bestselling book Capital in the Twenty- First Century have raised alarms about the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. Overlooked, however, in these important discussions is the reality that economic inequality is not a uniform experience; rather, its effects fall more harshly on women and minorities. With regard to gender, American women have higher rates of poverty and get paid less than comparable men, and their workplace participation rates are falling. Yet economic inequality is neither inevitable nor intractable. Given that the government creates the rules of the market, it is essential to analyze the government’s role in perpetuating economic inequality.

This Article specifically examines the role of the Supreme Court in contributing to gender based economic inequality. The thesis is that the Supreme Court applies oversimplified economic assumptions about the market in its decision-making, thereby perpetuating economic inequality on the basis of gender. Applying insights of feminist economic theory, the Article analyzes recent Supreme Court jurisprudence about women workers, including Wal-Mart v. Dukes (denying class certification to female employees who were paid and promoted less than men), Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (granting business owners the right to deny contraception coverage to female employees on religious grounds), and Harris v. Quinn (limiting the ability of home health care workers to unionize and thereby improve their working conditions). In these cases, the Court elevates its narrow view of efficiency over more comprehensive understandings, devalues care work, upholds harmful power imbalances, and ignores the intersectional reality of the lives of low-wage women workers. The Article concludes that the Court is eroding collective efforts by women to improve their working conditions and economic standing. It suggests advocacy strategies for reforming law to obtain economic justice for women and their families.

 

November 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Reading on Law, Gender & Veterans

 On Veterans' Day, exploring some of the gendered effects of veterans' obligations and benefits:

 Jill Hasday, Fighting Women: The Military, Sex, and Extrajudicial Constitutional Change

Linda Kerber, No Constitutional Right to be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship, Chap. 5

Melissa Murray, Made With Men in Mind: The GI Bill and its Reinforcement of Gendered Work after World War II

Jody Prescott, NATO Gender Mainstreaming and the Feminist Critique of the Law of Armed Conflict.

 Personnel Administration v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256 (1979) (veterans' preferences in employment)

US v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996) (women's enrollment at military institute)

November 11, 2016 in Constitutional | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pay Disparity in Legal Academia

Paula Monopoli, The Market Myth and Pay Disparity in Legal Academia, 52 Idaha L.Rev. (2016)

Abstract:     

The wage gap in academia — even when controlling for rank — has been clearly documented. This article focuses on the affirmative defenses to the Equal Pay Act that play a central role in perpetuating this pay gap in legal academia. These include exceptions for prior salary, competing offers, and negotiation. These affirmative defenses fall under the rubric of “market excuses” and their existence eviscerates the very law that was meant to make the practice of paying men and women differently illegal. The article describes case law that interprets these affirmative defenses and applies the analysis in those cases to two recent, high-profile cases in the legal academic workplace. It will describe the current state of play in legal academia in terms of compensation decisions, the disparate impact that these practices have on women faculty and possible solutions, including the Paycheck Fairness Act.

 

November 11, 2016 in Equal Employment, Law schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

SCOTUS Hears Equal Protection Challenge to Different Citizenship Requirements for Child Born to Unwed Fathers v. Unwed Mothers

 The case set for oral argument today is Lynch v. Morales-Santana

QUESTIONS PRESENTED

Whether sections 301 and 309 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 violate the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection by requiring unwed citizen fathers to satisfy substantially more burdensome physical presence requirements than unwed citizen mothers in order to transmit derivative citizenship to their foreign-born children.

 Whether the court of appeals properly remedied the equal protection violation by extending to unwed citizen fathers of foreign-born children the same rights available to similarly situated unwed citizen mothers.

Here is the Second Circuit's opinion below, finding an Equal Protection violation.

November 9, 2016 in Family, International, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

When Elizabeth Cady Stanton Tried to Vote

NYT, Suffragists as the Ballot Box

Many women tried to invade the polling place earlier. Among them was Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who sought to vote on a brilliant autumn day in November 1880. The great suffrage leader was sitting at her desk that morning preparing another essay on women’s exclusion from government.

 

Just then a “wagon and horses all decked with flags and evergreens” drew up to her Tenafly, N.J., home. The driver was in search of (male) Republican voters. All six men in Stanton’s household were away so Stanton decided that she would go instead. At the polling place, her driver explained that Stanton was there “to vote a clean Republican ticket.”

 

With that, the mood among election inspectors swiftly changed. One told Stanton firmly that voting was a male privilege. Stanton replied: “I am here as a United States citizen to vote for United States officers. It is not the duty of a town inspector to decide on my liberties.” When “no outstretched hand was ready to receive” her ballot, she left it on the ballot box whose opening was covered by a heavy Bible. “I leave my ballot here,” she told the election officials in departing. “With you rests the responsibility of refusing to count it.”

h/t Jane Moriarty

November 8, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Women's Legal History on Voting Day: United States v. Susan B. Anthony

Ann Gordon, The Trial of Susan B. Anthony, Federal Judicial Center (2005)

United States v. Susan B. Anthony was a criminal trial in the federal courts. In the federal election in November 1872, Anthony, the best-known advocate of woman suffrage, registered to vote and then voted. The government charged her with the crime of voting without “the legal right to vote in said election district”—she, in the words of the indictment, “being then and there a person of the female sex.” Her trial revealed the complexity of federalism in the post-Civil War years. She was convicted in federal court under federal law for violating state law about who was eligible to vote. New York state law prohibited women from voting, and a recent federal law provided for the criminal prosecution of anyone who voted in congressional elections “without having a lawful right to vote.”

 

Primarily a case about woman suffrage and sexual discrimination, United States v. Susan B. Anthony is also a case about Reconstruction and the balance of federal and state authority. Prior to the Civil War, the demand for woman suffrage was directed to state governments, each of which set the qualifications of voters in the respective states. Reconstruction redirected the demand. The federal government assumed some authority over the voting qualifications enacted by the states, and woman suffragists saw in that change an opportunity to extend voting rights not only to black men but also to black and white women. They called for universal suffrage.

 

Anthony and the members of the National Woman Suffrage Association, after failing to gain explicit reference to the voting rights of women in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, set about testing the meaning of what those amendments did say and how the amendments might have changed the rights of women. Anthony was among a group of women in the country trying to establish, through test cases in the federal courts, that the amendments had so redefined citizenship and rights that women were protected by the federal government in their right to vote.

 

Image result for susan b. anthony voting

(Cartoon mocking SBA for wanting to vote)

 

Remarks by Susan B. Anthony in the Circuit Court of the Northern District of New York,  June 19, 1873

As a matter of outward form the defendant was asked if she had anything to say why the sentence of the court should not be pronounced upon her.

 

"Yes, your honor," replied Miss Anthony, "I have many things to say. My every right, constitutional, civil, political and judicial has been tramped upon. I have not only had no jury of my peers, but I have had no jury at all."

 

Court—"Sit down Miss Anthony. I cannot allow you to argue the question."

 

Miss Anthony—"I shall not sit down. I will not lose my only chance to speak."

 

Court—"You have been tried, Miss Anthony, by the forms of law, and my decision has been rendered by law."

 

Miss Anthony—"Yes, but laws made by men, under a government of men, interpreted by men and for the benefit of men. The only chance women have for justice in this country is to violate the law, as I have done, and as I shall continue to do," and she struck her hand heavily on the table in emphasis of what she said. "Does your honor suppose that we obeyed the infamous fugitive slave law which forbade to give a cup of cold water to a slave fleeing from his master? I tell you we did not obey it; we fed him and clothed him, and sent him on his way to Canada. So shall we trample all unjust laws under foot. I do not ask the clemency of the court. I came into it to get justice, having failed in this, I demand the full rigors of the law."

 

See also Doug Linder, Famous American Trials: The Trial of Susan B. Anthony and Trial Record in the Case of Susan B. Anthony

 

 

November 8, 2016 in Constitutional, Courts, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Politicizing Motherhood: A Closer Look at the Maternalism of Phyllis Schlafly's Anti-ERA Activism

Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, Politicizing and Practicing Motherhood

“I’d like to burn you at the stake,” pioneering feminist Betty Friedan famously spat at conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly during a 1973 debate about the Equal Rights Amendment. Her loathing reflected the recognition of a formidable opponent. Though our largely liberal profession took several decades to recognize Schlafly’s power in shaping political culture, the flurry of insightful reflections from historians in the wake of her recent death affirms Schlafly’s rightful place in the historical record even as her anti-feminist and anti-gay politics position her on what many agree is the wrong side of history.

 

A hallmark of Schlafly’s public persona was portraying the world as a series of stark opposites. Her feminist straw woman was joyless man-hater; in 1977, she contrasted a conservative, “positive woman” with the “miserable” who embraced the new feminist honorific “Ms.”[1] But if we treat Schlafly exclusively as the conservative complement to this caricature, we miss important dimensions of her function in the history of feminism as more than a reactionary foil. An illuminating way to read Schlafly as a more complex figure is to look beyond her rich public life to explore how she perceived motherhood not just as a political symbol but also as a personal practice.

 

I’m not the first historian to suggest that Schlafly demands a nuanced approach.[2] For one, the feminism Schlafly railed against ironically enabled her political career. Moreover, that illustrious career was constrained by the same misogyny that thwarted women of all political affiliations, as her unsuccessful attempts in the 1950s to break into the old-boys’ foreign policy network proved. For Schlafly’s homages to homemaking (and her frequent infuriating introductory anecdote that she had asked permission of her husband to speak publicly), she rivaled Friedan in her efforts to mobilize a generation of female political neophytes. She sent detailed handwritten notes to housewives, precisely instructing how to organize around “women’s issues” such as education, abortion, and “the homosexual agenda,” which made “family values” a central plank of contemporary conservatism and launched her into public life. Like her early-twentieth-century progressive foremothers, Schlafly used a form of “maternalism” to access the political arena, though in order to promote rather than challenge traditional gender roles even as her very participation embodied such a challenge.

November 4, 2016 in Abortion, Family, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Justice Dep't Settles Pregnancy Accommodation Cases in Police Officers' Favor

Justice Department Settles Pregnancy and Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against City of Florence, Kentucky

The Justice Department filed a proposed consent decree with the city of Florence, Kentucky, to resolve a pregnancy and disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the department under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

 

According to the department's complaint, Florence discriminated against two pregnant police officers by denying both officers' requests for light duty.  The department alleges that Florence previously assigned light duty positions to employees who were temporarily unable to perform their regular job duties, regardless of why the employee needed light duty.  In April 2013, within months of a police officer's pregnancy-related light duty request, Florence limited light duty to employees with on-the-job injuries.  Florence also required that employees with non-work-related illnesses, injuries or conditions demonstrate that they had "no restrictions" before they could return to work. 

 

In 2014, according to the department's complaint, Police Officers Lyndi Trischler and Samantha Riley requested light duty when they were unable to perform their duties as patrol officers due to their pregnancies.  Officer Trischler, who was diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy and suffered complications, also requested light duty as a reasonable accommodation for her pregnancy-related disability.  Florence denied the requests and required each to take leave.  After placing Officers Trischler and Riley on leave, Florence continued to grant light duty to other employees who were similar in their ability or inability to work. 

 

This is the department's first lawsuit challenging a discriminatory light duty policy since the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling regarding light duty policies and pregnant employees in Young v. United Parcel Service.  It is also the department's first lawsuit challenging disability-related "no restrictions" policies in the workplace.

 

"No woman should ever have to choose between having a family and earning a salary," said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.  "Equally important, individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations deserve an opportunity to keep their jobs.  The Justice Department will continue working tirelessly to protect pregnant women against unlawful discrimination in the workplace."

 

Under the consent decree, which still must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Florence will adopt new policies that allow accommodations, including light duty, for pregnant employees and employees with disabilities; establish an effective process for receiving and responding to employees' accommodation requests and discrimination complaints; and ensure the proper maintenance of employee medical records.  In addition, Florence will train all supervisors, administrators, officers and employees who participate in making personnel decisions related to light duty and other accommodation requests made pursuant to Title VII and the ADA.  Florence has also agreed to pay $135,000 in compensatory damages and attorney's fees as well as restore the paid leave that Officers Trischler and Riley were forced to use.

November 4, 2016 in Equal Employment, Pregnancy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Gender, Judging, and Judicial Crisis

This article in the Akron Legal News Is the Judicial Selection Process in Crisis? details political science professor Sally Kenney's keynote speech from the recent Feminist Judgments conference.    

These are dangerous times for judicial appointments, according to Sally J. Kenney, an expert on judicial selection and social movements.

Kenney, the author of the book “Gender and Justice: Why Women in the Judiciary Really Matter," was the keynote speaker for “The U.S. Feminist Judgments Project."

. . . . 

Kenney said it is important that more women and minority men serve on the bench, and that it is no longer enough that judges are well qualified.

 

 “We need to know what their positions are on domestic violence and sexual assault,” she said. “Do they believe boys need their fathers even if those fathers were batterers? And joint custody puts mothers at risk? Do they believe women routinely lie about domestic violence in divorce cases or sexual assault in general? Do they easily dismiss women’s fear of stalkers and harassers? Do police officers and those serving in the military who are more likely than the general population to be batterers deserve to retain their firearms even after threatening intimates?”

 

 Judges should consistently uphold rules even when those rules go against the political party of the president who appointed them, Kenney said, adding that senators should be held accountable for failing to do their job.

 

 “No one disputes whether Merrick Garland is qualified. No one thinks he has extreme political views,” she said. “Now it appears senators can just say ‘no.’”

 

 Kenney also said it is important that judges be willing to change positions when confronted with social facts. 

 

“I think we should be able to demand that judges be the most distinguished members of the legal profession, without having to turn them into deductive machines or robots or think of them as neutrals,” she said. 

 

“I also believe the issue is not the difference women make on the bench, but the message their absence sends,” she added. “It is important to have women and minority men on the bench. 

November 3, 2016 in Books, Conferences, Courts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Introduction to Women and the Law

Here is the Introduction to the terrific line-up of articles in the just published collection, Women and the Law (Thomson Reuters 2016). 

Download Women and Law Foreword 2016

OVERVIEW AND INTRODUCTION

The theme of this year’s edition of Women and the Law is captured best by contributor Deborah Brake’s article entitled, “On Not Having it All.”  The recent scholarly literature focuses on women’s so-called struggle to have it all and the difficult legal intersections of work and family.  For decades, women have been encouraged to be Superwomen, to “bring home the bacon,” and “fry it up in a pan,” all while taking primary responsibility for family care.  The structures of the law, workplace, and the family, however, have not accommodated this dual dynamic.  Male workplace norms, long grounded in assumptions of workers’ exclusive dedication to a job, supported by the unpaid home labor of wives and mothers, create an inadequate foundation for women’s full and equal entry.  Instead, we see women either “leaning in” to a 24/7 effort for workplace success, or “opting out” for a prioritization of family work.  All of which assumes the privilege of profession and ignores the economic reality that most women work in paid labor because they have to, whether due to basic need, recession, or marital status.

The focus of the scholarly literature and the related litigation reflects the equivocation in women’s coping strategies and in critiques of the legal systems that perpetuate gender inequality.  Much of the recent research overlaps the fields of employment, reproductive rights, and family law.  This intersection of legal thought mirrors women’s interwoven realities of work, family, and life, where the private and public spheres are merged, and conflicts are not easily settled within one traditional body of law.  Women’s first encounters with sex discrimination today are more often delayed to this point of work/family conflict.  Suddenly pregnancy accommodations, maternity leaves, workplace norms, sexual harassment, implicit bias in hiring and promotion, and equal pay take on new meaning.

The scholarship reflects this lived experience.  There is much discussion of pregnancy and maternity and how they interface with the workplace.  These intersections reveal conflicts in the law the sex equality battle assumed had been resolved.  Scholars are searching for new legal frameworks to address these situations, borrowing analogies from other equality, disability, and medical regimes.  This recent scholarship rejects the private/public binary and the assumption that private family life of health, children, pregnancy, and relationship exists isolated from the workplace.  And it pragmatically searches for alternative theories and solutions that can make a meaningful difference to women’s lives.

November 3, 2016 in Books, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

New Book: Women and the Law - The Year's Top Scholarship

Women and the Law, 2015 ed.

I have just published the annual edition of Women and the Law (Tracy A. Thomas, ed. Thomson 2016).  This is an edited collection of some of the "greatest hits" in scholarship affecting women's rights published over the last year.  The book reprints the articles as a collection as a resource book intended for practitioners to stay current on developing ideas and for academics to appreciate the breadth and depth of working theories.  

Table of Contents

Foreword, On Not Having it All, Tracy A. Thomas

Part A Reproductive Rights

Chapter 1 Abortion and the “Woman Question”: Forty Years of Debate, Reva B. Siegel

Chapter 2 Roe as We Know It, Cary Franklin

Chapter 3 Choice at Work: Young v. United Parcel Service, Pregnancy Discrimination, and Reproductive Liberty,  Mary Ziegler

Chapter 4 Disparate Impact and Pregnancy: Title VII's Other Accommodation Requirement, L. Camille Hébert

Part B Feminism and the Family

Chapter 5 Marriage Equality and the “New” Maternalism, Cynthia Godsoe

Chapter 6 Holistic Pregnancy: Rejecting the Theory of the Adversarial Mother, Rona Kaufman Kitchen

Chapter 7 The Bad Mother: Stigma, Abortion and Surrogacy, Paula Abrams

Chapter 8 The Fourth Trimester, Saru M. Matambanadzo

Part C Violence Against Women

Chapter 9 For the Title IX Civil Rights Movement: Congratulations and Cautions, Nancy Chi Cantalupo

Chapter 10 Judicial Patriarchy and Domestic Violence: A Challenge to the Conventional Family Privacy Narrative, Elizabeth Katz

Chapter 11 Constrained Choice: Mothers, the State, and Domestic Violence, Rona Kaufman Kitchen

Part D Women in the Workplace

Chapter 12 Taking Sex Discrimination Seriously, Vicki Schultz

Chapter 13 On Not “Having It Both Ways” and Still Losing: Reflections on Fifty Years of Pregnancy Litigation Under Title VII, Deborah L. Brake

Chapter 14 Employment Discrimination Class Actions after Wal-Mart v. Dukes, Michael Selmi and Sylvia Tsakos

Part E Feminist Legal Theory

Chapter 15 Review Essay: Why (Re)Write Judgments?, Heather Roberts and Laura Sweeney

Chapter 16 Domestic Disorders: Suffrage and New York's Constitutional Convention of 1867, Felice Batlan

Chapter 17 Marriage (In)Equality and the Historical Legacies of Feminism, Serena Mayeri

Chapter 18 Gender Differences in Dispute Resolution Practice: Report on the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Practice Snapshot Survey, Gina Viola Brown and Andrea Kupfer Schneider

 

 

November 2, 2016 in Books, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

CFP Mary Wollstonecraft: Life and Legacy

CFP: Mary Wollstonecraft

MARCH 8 (International Womens Day) 2017

CALL FOR PAPERS

As part of the celebrations for Hull as UK City of Culture 2017 the University of Hull is hosting an interdisciplinary celebration of the life, work and legacy of Mary Wollstonecraft, (who spent her formative years in the nearby town of Beverley).

 

Papers are welcome on any aspect of Wollstonecrafts life, work and legacy from Gender Studies, Philosophy, Politics, History, Literature, Education or any other relevant discipline. 

 

A prize of £100 will be awarded for the best paper, which will also be published in the Journal of Gender Studies Special issue on Mary Wollstonecraft, which will follow the conference.

 

Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words to K.Lennon@hull.ac.uk  by January 6 2017

For some thinking on the legal thought of foundational feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, see Charles Reid, Jr., The Journey to Seneca Falls: Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Legal Emancipation of Women, 10 Univ. St. Thomas L.J. 1123 (2013)

 

 

November 1, 2016 in Call for Papers, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)