Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Domestic Violence Legal Expert Resigns from NFL Commission on Violence Prevention

Domestic Violence Expert Resigns from NFL Players Association Commission

Deborah Epstein has spent her professional life fighting for victims of domestic violence. But protecting such victims is also what Epstein says led her to step down from a commission meant to tackle the issue of domestic violence in the National Football League.

The NFL's Players Association Commission on Violence Prevention was formed after several NFL players were accused of violence against their domestic partners, including Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, who knocked his fiancée unconscious in an elevator.

In 2014, Epstein, director of the Georgetown University Law Center's Domestic Violence Clinic, was asked to serve on the commission. She and research psychologist Lisa Goodman were authorized to conduct a national study of players' wives, collecting the women's suggestions for handling domestic violence and supporting its victims.

As she tells NPR, her decision to resign came after troubling "pattern emerged" in her communications with the NFLPA.

"I brought a number of ideas to the commission about ways in which they could deal with the domestic violence problem in the NFL," she says. The report compiled short-term and long-term recommendations.

The NFLPA heard her out, she says, but since filing the report in June 2016, "it has sat on the shelf."

"The Player's Association contacts that I have would welcome those ideas, tell me they were eminently doable, but that they had to get kicked down the road because 'It was the Super Bowl, it was the draft, it was the season,' " she says. "And I would come back and reiterate my suggestions, and eventually I found that communication would just die on the vine."

"I realized very little, if anything, was going to happen."***

Esptein, who signed a confidentiality agreement with the NFLPA, says she can't divulge what recommendations she provided in the report. Ostensibly, the confidentiality protects the anonymity of spouses and partners of NFL players from retribution, allowing them to speak freely.

In a Washington Post op-ed earlier this month, Epstein says, "I simply cannot continue to be part of a body that exists in name only," and what, she believes is "a fig leaf."

June 27, 2018 in Sports, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rebooting the Equal Rights Amendment

Allison Lange, The Equal Rights Amendment Has Been Dead for 36 Years. Why it Might be on the Verge of a Comeback

On May 30, Illinois became the 37th state to pass the Equal Right Amendment (ERA), which says, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Next, advocates aim to secure the final state needed to ratify the amendment. They will probably target Virginia, North Carolina or Georgia.

True, the deadline to ratify the ERA came and went in 1982. But that may not be a dealbreaker. Some legal strategists argue that since other amendments had no time limit for ratification, the ERA should not have had one, either. Others argue that Congress simply needs to extend the deadline.

Suddenly, almost a century after it was first proposed, the ERA might be within reach.

The law is overdue, culturally and legally. Many Americans assume that the United States already has gender-equality rules. After all, the Civil Rights Act, Title IX and the Equal Pay Act all offer protections against discrimination. But these are pieces of legislation. New laws and Supreme Court rulings can diminish their power.

For more on the legal and social history of the ERA as well as the current movement, see my book chapter with historian TJ Boiseau, After Suffrage Comes Equal Rights? ERA as the Next Logical Step in 100 Years of the Nineteenth Amendment: An Appraisal of Women’s Political Activism (Holly McCammon & Lee Ann Banaszak eds.) (Oxford Univ. Press 2018)

Gerald Magliocca, Buried Alive: The Reboot of the Equal Rights Amendment

This Article addresses the recent effort to revive the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution. Following ratifications by Nevada (2017) and Illinois (2018), the ERA stands close to the three-fourths vote in the states required for ratification under Article Five. But these recent ratifications are of uncertain validity, as Congress imposed a deadline for the ERA's ratification that expired in 1982.

The paper argues that Congress can waive the expired ratification deadline but should not do so until should not do so until there is no doubt that 38 states have voted for ratification.There is room for doubt on that score because five states rescinded their ratification votes in the 1970s. Congress is free to disregard these rescissions on the ground that a state may not repeal its ratification of a proposed constitutional amendment. Ignoring these state rescissions in addition to waiving the ratification deadline, though, would raise substantial concerns about the ERA’s legitimacy and may lead a future Congress to attempt the reversal of that recognition.

Thus, the wise course is for Congress to refrain from taking action on the ERA until 38 states can be counted as yes votes without the five rescinding states. If Congress decides to include these five states as part of the ratification total, then at least two-thirds of the Senate and the House of Representatives should be required to support that decision—in accord with a precedent established by Fourteenth Amendment--to quiet the doubts about the validity of the ERA’s ratification.

June 27, 2018 in Constitutional, Gender, Legal History, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

SCOTUS Overturns CAL Disclosure Law for Pro-Life Pregnancy Counseling Centers

In National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, the US Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision blocked a California law that required “crisis pregnancy centers” to provide information about abortion.

The decision written by Justice Thomas and joined by Justices Roberts, Kennedy, Alito, and Gorsuch is here at NIFLA v. Becerra.  Concurrence by Justice Kennedy. Dissent written by Justice Breyer.

Commentary on the decision:

Mary Ziegler, Wash Post, The Supreme Court's Big Abortion Hypocrisy

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court struck down a California law regulating antiabortion crisis pregnancy centers, which are Christian counseling centers that try to persuade women to continue their pregnancies. California had required pregnancy centers with a medical license to tell women that the state provided free or low-cost services, including abortion, to low-income women. If a center wasn’t licensed, the facility had to post a sign saying so.

 

For all the justices, the case boiled down to a question of fairness. Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas accused California of discriminating against Christians. After all, the state demanded that crisis pregnancy centers — and no similar facilities — post notices about other services. Justice Stephen G. Breyer argued that the discrimination actually ran the other way: The Supreme Court had upheld laws requiring abortion providers to recite a state-mandated script but wouldn’t do the same when antiabortion activists made their case.****

 

But the court’s decision to treat crisis pregnancy centers as religious institutions has created two  contrasting sets of rules when it comes to free speech on abortion. While abortion providers have their speech rights curbed — they are required by law to say certain things to their patients — the majority seemed to suggest that crisis pregnancy centers are different. 

 

Emma Green, The Atlantic, The Supreme Court Hands a Win to the Pro-Life Movement

These radically different readings of the case suggest that the Court is still wrestling with how it thinks about abortion: as a medical procedure, an act with heavy moral consequences, or both. Looking ahead, the Court’s decision in NIFLA may be most consequential as a boundary line for the way the government treats pro-life groups. In this respect, Kennedy’s concurring opinion is most telling, wrote Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University, in an email. “He is concerned about freedom of thought and religion for conservative Christians, and he thinks the fact Act shows evidence of bias against believers who work in [crisis-pregnancy centers],” she said. “This may turn out to be the most significant part of the opinion.”

 

Volokh Conspiracy, NIFLA v. Becerra and Speech Compulsions

 

Caroline Corbin, Compelled Disclosures, 65 Alabama Law Review 1277 (2014)

 

Abortion Providers Have Less First Amendment Rights than Abortion Opponents

One of the centerpieces of the Supreme Court’s First Amendment decisions is that the Constitution does not permit “viewpoint discrimination.” The government may, in certain limited cases, enact laws that place restrictions on speech — but discriminating between two opposing sides of a debate is a big no-no.

 

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court created an “except when we do it” carve-out to this rule. When you boil down the opinion’s rhetoric, the holding of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra is that abortion opponents enjoy the full force of a robust First Amendment, while abortion providers must accept a watered-down right to free speech.

June 27, 2018 in Abortion, Constitutional, Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Senate Judiciary Committee Skeptical of Judiciary's Response to Sexual Harassment in Courthouses

Joan Biskupic, Senators Unhappy With Judiciary's Response to Sexual Harassment in Courthouses

Senators from both parties expressed frustration and concern on Wednesday about the US judiciary's response to sexual harassment in federal courthouses.

 

Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley complained that judicial officials, who studied the problem for six months after claims of misbehavior against US Appeals Court Judge Alex Kozinski became public, produced only a "vague" report with no assessment of how widespread abuse might be.

 
Grassley, an Iowa Republican, warned that it might be time for an independent inspector general to oversee misconduct -- a proposal judicial officials have long fought as being unnecessary and a potential violation of the Constitution's separation of powers.
  
James Duff, director of the Administrative Office of the US Courts, insisted that judges are sufficiently addressing sexual misconduct.
 
"It's not as prevalent as it is in other workplaces," Duff said. 
 
When Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, pressed him to be more specific and use a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being "off the charts" sexual offenses, Duff further hesitated but answered, "By comparison to the other workplaces, it's probably ... maybe ... whatever I say ... it's just a guess, maybe a 3 or 4."
 
The Judiciary Committee hearing offered the first forum for examining the third branch's response to sexual harassment claims and broader misconduct issues since complaints against the California-based Kozinski emerged in December. The Washington Post, which first reported on Kozinski, highlighted an account from a law clerk who said the judge had asked her to look at pornographic images on his office computer.
 
A CNN special report in January, examining about 5,000 judicial orders arising from misconduct complaints over the past decade, found that courthouse employees and others with potentially valid complaints against judges rarely use the complaint system, or get no relief when they do. Judges overseeing the system seldom find that a claim warrants an investigation or that a judge should be disciplined.

June 19, 2018 in Equal Employment, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Open Statement on Sexual Harassment from Employment Discrimination Law Scholars

This open statement on sexual  harassment law by leading law scholars includes 10 principles important to understanding sexual harassment as well as concrete proposed reforms tailored to each principle.

Open Statement on Sexual Harassment from Employment Discrimination Law Scholars

 Law Professors Rachel Arnow-Richman, Ian Ayres, Susan Bisom-Rapp, Tristin Green, Rebecca Lee, Ann McGinley, Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Nicole Porter, Vicki Schultz, and Brian Soucek

Introduction

We, the undersigned legal scholars and educators with expertise in employment discrimination law, seek to offer a new vision and agenda for eliminating sexual harassment and advancing workplace equality. We are inspired by the #MeToo movement: The courage and sheer number of people who have come forward to report harassment and abuse, the cross-race, cross-class solidarity among activists, the media’s in-depth and sustained coverage, and the public’s willingness to hear and believe so many victims all suggest this is a watershed moment for change.

Inspired by recent events and renewed activism, we wish to contribute to the current momentum by broadening the conversation about the law. We know that law alone cannot create change. Yet we know also that change rarely occurs without the law. For over forty years, employees, activists, educators, and policymakers have looked to the legal system to address sexual harassment in the workplace. These efforts have produced important theories and information, steps forward and setbacks, that yield important lessons for the future. Title VII and other existing laws against discrimination provide an important tool in the fight against sexual harassment, one that will require continued leadership from enforcement agencies. But broader reforms are needed to address the conditions in which harassment flourishes and to make the legal system more responsive to employees. To reduce sexual harassment and move toward a fairer, more inclusive workplace and society for people of all sexes and genders, we offer the following principles and proposals for reform gained from years of working for change within the law.

 

Ten Principles for Addressing Sexual Harassment

Principle #1: The problem with workplace harassment is sexism, not sexual desire.

Principle #2: Harassment includes many forms of sexism and abuse, not just sexual misconduct.

Principle #3: Sexual harassment is directly linked to sex segregation and inequality.

Principle #4: Same-sex harassment and LGBTQ harassment are prohibited sex discrimination, too.

Principle #5: Race-based harassment and intersectional race/sex harassment and discrimination against women and men of color must be specifically addressed.

Principle #6: Broader occupational and other structural vulnerabilities must be reduced.

Principle #7: Banning all sexual behavior is not a solution and can even be harmful to the cause of eliminating harassment.

Principle #8: Protection against retaliation for victims of harassment and people who stand up for them must be strengthened.

Principle #9: Victims of harassment should have the same recourse to the legal system as other victims of discrimination.

Principle #10: Prevention and remedies must move beyond punishing individual wrongdoers to encourage systemic institutional change.

June 19, 2018 in Equal Employment, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Leading Law Scholars on MeToo and Sexual Harassment Law in Joint Collaboration of Yale and Stanford Law Reviews

The #MeToo movement has prompted a national dialogue about sexual harassment. This Companion Collection, launched in collaboration with the Stanford Law Review, aims to draw lessons from the #MeToo movement for activists, scholars, policymakers, lawyers, and judges. Across the two journals, the Collection offers twelve scholars’ insights on the ways sexual harassment produces and is produced by broader forms of inequality. Companion Essays can be found at the Stanford Law Review Online.

 

Articles in Yale Law Journal

Vicki Schultz, Reconceptualizing Sexual Harassment, Again

The #MeToo movement has spurred a renewed focus on sexual harassment. But often, the narratives that emerge overemphasize sexualized forms of harassment at the expense of broader structural causes.  This Essay builds on Schultz's previous work to explore those institutional drivers of harassment.

Brian Soucek, Queering Sexual Harassment Law
Franchina v. City of Providence may be the first judicial opinion of the #MeToo movement. But it also points beyond the #MeToo movement, exemplifying harassment that is motivated by desires to enforce gender roles and why sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination under Title VII.

Rachel Arnow-Richman, Of Power and Process: Handling Harassers in an At-Will World

Pressure is mounting on companies to take swift disciplinary action regarding alleged sexual harassment. But our employment law incentivizes employers to tolerate high-ranking harassers while cracking down on inappropriate behavior by the rank-and-file. This Essay suggests a better path forward.

Angela Onwuachi-Willig, What About #UsToo?: The Invisibility of Race in the #MeToo Movement

The #MeToo movement has rightly been praised for breaking long-held silences about harassment. It has also rightly been critiqued for ignoring unique forms of harassment that women of color face. This Essay calls for a sexual harassment law that embraces intersectional, multidimensional identity.

Ramit Mizrahi, Sexual Harassment Law After #MeToo: Looking to California as a Model

The #MeToo movement has motivated people to speak out about sexual harassment, but many of those speaking remain vulnerable to retaliation. This Essay provides the perspective of an employment lawyer on the shortcomings of sexual harassment law and how state law can afford greater protection.

Tristin K. Green, Was Sexual Harassment Law a Mistake? The Stories We Tell

Does our sexual harassment law hinder the larger project of reducing harassment? This Essay demonstrates that the law constrains stories of harassment and hamstrings our calls for reform. Ultimately, the law, not just public perception, must change if this movement is to have a lasting effect.

 

Essays in Stanford Law Review

June 19, 2018 in Masculinities, Pop Culture, Scholarship, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

CA Senate Passes Bill Requiring Gender Quotas for Corporate Boards

The CAL state senate passed a bill that would require public companies with "principal executive offices" in CAL to have a minimum of one woman on their corporate board.  That increases to two women in the second year of the bill, and three women in the third year for boards of more than 6 people.

The full text of the bill is here: SB-826: Corporations: Board of Directors

"[F]ive other states (MA, IL, PA, OH and CO) have already passed precatory resolutions encouraging corporations within their states to promote gender diversity in the boardroom." See California State Senate Passes Bill That Would Impose Gender Quotas on Public Company Boards 

 For my thoughts and legal analysis in support of gender quotas, see Tracy A. Thomas, Reconsidering the Remedy of Gender Quotas, Harv. J. L. & Gender (online) (Nov. 2017).

 

June 19, 2018 in Business, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Terrible Gender Stereotypes of Father's Day Cards

The Terrible Stereotypes of Mother's and Father's Day Cards

The messaging isn’t subtle, either. Some cards are very clear about which parent is considered more important. “Happy Mother’s Day to a woman who does it all!,” read one card. “You work. You cook. You clean. You nurture … You crazy?!” But the woman on the inside of the card has a happy enough expression, even though each of her limbs is engaged in a different task. A month later I found a Father’s Day card that said: “Father’s Day is in June … Because about a month after Mother’s Day, somebody went ‘Hey, wait a minute!’” (In reality, it took much longer. President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother’s Day a national U.S. holiday in 1914; it wasn’t until 1972 that President Nixon made Father’s Day official.)

A more scientific study of the themes of Mother’s and Father’s Day cards  looked at a batch in 2010. The researchers, Carol Auster and Lisa Auster-Gussman (who, fittingly, are mother and daughter) came to this conclusion: “Ritualized holidays tend to support the status quo, and traditional ideologies of motherhood and fatherhood,” of mothers as nurturers, and fathers as providing more utilitarian support. “The portrayal of motherhood and fatherhood on the greeting cards is important because these cards may act as agents of socialization, shaping individuals’ perceptions, regardless of whether the cards reflect the reality of parenting,” the study goes on to say....

In terms of content, Father’s Day cards emphasized supporting the family economically, imparting practical lessons, and being the best—far more “Number One Dad” or “Best Dad Ever” sort of cards than mothers had. “It was like they needed an award, but there wasn’t a lot of depth in what they were achieving,” says Auster-Gussman, a doctoral candidate in social psychology at the University of Minnesota.

In contrast, Mother’s Day cards focused a lot more on what the mothers were doing for their children. The cards in the study that mentioned “the little things you do” were, without exception, Mother’s Day cards, and cards that talked about making a child feel loved were much more likely to be for moms, too.

June 17, 2018 in Gender, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Book from Oral Histories of Women Lawyers

CSPAN, 20th Century Trailblazing Women Lawyers

20th Century Trailblazing Women Lawyers In 2005, the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession initiated oral history interviews with 100 senior women lawyers including former Attorney General Janet Reno and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Legal historian Jill Norgren discussed her book, “Stories from Trailblazing Women Lawyers: Lives in the Law,” which is based on the transcripts from these interviews. The Wilson Center and National History Center co-hosted this talk

And the book: Jill Norgren, Stories from Trailblazing Women Lawyers (NYU Press 2018)

In Stories from Trailblazing Women Lawyers, award-winning legal historian Jill Norgren curates the oral histories of one hundred extraordinary American women lawyers who changed the profession of law. Many of these stories are being told for the first time. As adults these women were on the front lines fighting for access to law schools and good legal careers. They challenged established rules and broke the law’s glass ceiling.Norgren uses these interviews to describe the profound changes that began in the late 1960s, interweaving social and legal history with the women’s individual experiences.  

In 1950, when many of the subjects of this book were children, the terms of engagement were clear: only a few women would be admitted each year to American law schools and after graduation their professional opportunities would never equal those open to similarly qualified men. Harvard Law School did not even begin to admit women until 1950. At many law schools, well into the 1970s, men told female students that they were taking a place that might be better used by a male student who would have a career, not babies.  

In 2005 the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession initiated a national oral history project named the Women Trailblazers in the Law initiative: One hundred outstanding senior women lawyers were asked to give their personal and professional histories in interviews conducted by younger colleagues. The interviews, made available to the author, permit these women to be written into history in their words, words that evoke pain as well as celebration, humor, and somber reflection. These are women attorneys who, in courtrooms, classrooms, government agencies, and NGOs have rattled the world with insistent and successful demands to reshape their profession and their society. They are women who brought nothing short of a revolution to the profession of law.

June 13, 2018 in Books, Legal History, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Attorney General Announces Domestic Violence No Longer Legal Basis for Asylum

NYT, Sessions Says Domestic and Gang Violence are not Grounds for Asylum

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday made it all but impossible for asylum seekers to gain entry into the United States by citing fears of domestic abuse or gang violence, in a ruling that could have a broad effect on the flow of migrants from Central America.

Mr. Sessions’s decision in a closely watched domestic violence case is the latest turn in a long-running debate over what constitutes a need for asylum. He reversed an immigration appeals court ruling that granted it to a Salvadoran woman who said she had been sexually, emotionally and physically abused by her husband.

Relatively few asylum seekers are granted permanent entry into the United States. In 2016, for every applicant who succeeded, more than 10 others also sought asylum, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security. But the process can take months or years, and tens of thousands of people live freely in the United States while their cases wend through the courts.

Mr. Sessions’s decision overturns a precedent set during the Obama administration that allowed more women to claim credible fears of domestic abuse and will make it harder for such arguments to prevail in immigration courts. He said the Obama administration created “powerful incentives” for people to “come here illegally and claim a fear of return.”

Asylum claims have expanded too broadly to include victims of “private violence,” like domestic violence or gangs, Mr. Sessions wrote in his ruling, which narrowed the type of asylum requests allowed. The number of people who told homeland security officials that they had a credible fear of persecution jumped to 94,000 in 2016 from 5,000 in 2009, he said in a speech earlier in the day in which he signaled he would restore “sound principles of asylum and longstanding principles of immigration law.”

“The prototypical refugee flees her home country because the government has persecuted her,” Mr. Sessions wrote in his ruling. Because immigration courts are housed under the Justice Department, not the judicial branch of government, he has the authority to overturn their decisions.

“An alien may suffer threats and violence in a foreign country for any number of reasons relating to her social, economic, family or other personal circumstances,” he added. “Yet the asylum statute does not provide redress for all misfortune.”

His ruling drew immediate condemnation from immigrants’ rights groups. Some viewed it as a return to a time when domestic violence was considered a private matter, not the responsibility of the government to intervene, said Karen Musalo, a defense lawyer on the case who directs the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

“What this decision does is yank us all back to the Dark Ages of human rights and women’s human rights and the conceptualization of it,” she said.

Volokh Conspiracy, Jeff Sessions' Ruling Denying Asylum to Victims of Domestic Violence Highlights Arbitrary Cruelty of Immigration Policy

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently issued a ruling denying asylum to female victims of domestic abuse and gang violence. His decision, which ruled against a Salvadoran woman who had been severely abused by her husband, concludes that such victims "generally" don't qualify for asylum under a federal law that grants asylum to any refugees who is "unable or unwilling to return to [her home country], and is unable or unwilling to avail . . . herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." The decision overrules two prior Justice Department Board of Immigration Appeals decisions, which granted asylum to female victims of domestic abuse in Guatemala and El Salvador. Sessions' ruling is legally problematic. But, perhaps even more importantly, it highlights the arbitrary injustice of a policy that denies asylum to victims of horrible persecution as bad as that which falls within the scope of the rules.

The key legal question in the case is whether Salvadoran victims of domestic violence qualify as people with "a well-founded fear of persecution" based on their "membership in a particular social group." The phrase "particular social group" is far from precise. But, as Sessions recognizes, courts have generally defined it as a group "composed of members who share a common immutable characteristic, (2) defined with particularity, and (3) socially distinct within the society in question." It should be obvious that women qualify as a group that shares "a common immutable characteristic," and that they are also a group that is "socially distinct" and "can be defined with particularity." It is true that gender is not completely immutable in an age of sex change operations. But it is surely sufficiently so to qualify under the rules. And you don't have to be a radical feminist to recognize that, in highly sexist societies like El Salvador and Guatemala, which have a "culture of machismo and family violence" (as one of the BIA decisions overruled by Sessions puts it), domestic violence against women flourishes in large part because of gender bias. And such bias helps account for the failure of the authorities to effectively curtail such abuse. Recognizing that does not require us to assume that all Guatemalan and Salvadoran men are sexist or violent, or that all law enforcement officials in those countries are misogynists, merely that such attitudes are sufficiently widespread in those countries that they account for much of the danger faced by female victims of domestic violence.

June 13, 2018 in International, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Today on Sexual Harassment by Judges

Watch the hearing here on CSPAN Senate Committee Examines Workplace Misconduct in the Federal Judiciary, June 13, 2018

Joan Biskupic, CNN, Senate Judiciary Committee Takes up #MeToo in the Courts

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony related to judicial misconduct on Wednesday, including from a Washington lawyer who says she collected numerous accounts of sexual harassment by judges, in the first public airing of US judges' #MeToo moment.

Jaime Santos says that after women went public last December with complaints against California-based US Appeals Court Judge Alex Kozinski, she and colleagues began trying to address the larger harassment issue by talking to women who had worked closely with federal judges in prestigious law clerk positions.
"Harassment and abuse within the judiciary are not the rule, but these experiences are not uncommon," Santos, who is a former law clerk from the 9th Circuit, where Kozinski served, says in prepared testimony. "Law clerks and externs from numerous federal courts shared with us that they had felt demeaned, belittled, or humiliated during their clerkships or externships.
 
"Some shared stories about being asked sexual questions during job interviews, hearing their judge or co-clerks speak about female attorneys in derogatory and objectifying terms, and being groped or kissed in public and in private."
 
A CNN special report in January, examining about 5,000 judicial orders arising from misconduct complaints over the past decade, found that courthouse employees and others with potentially valid complaints against judges rarely use the judiciary's misconduct system, or get no relief when they do. Judges overseeing the system seldom find that a claim warrants an investigation or that a judge should be disciplined.
 
On Wednesday the Senate committee is also scheduled to hear from James Duff, director of the Administrative Office of the US Courts, who oversaw a group set up to examine judicial misconduct. Chief Justice John Roberts established the working group in December after The Washington Post first reported complaints from women against Kozinski.
 
In his prepared remarks, Duff highlights the group's proposal for a national Office of Judicial Integrity, with a hotline for employees to seek counseling, guidance and intervention if harassed. Duff also says the current process for reporting complaints against judges "works well when utilized." He said officials are trying to make it easier to use.
The working group reported earlier this month that "inappropriate conduct" in courthouses is "not limited to a few isolated instances," but the group did not detail the magnitude of employee abuse beyond saying it was "not pervasive."
It did make several recommendations, including that judges put a greater priority on improving workplace culture, the code of conduct be revised to make clear what behavior is prohibited and the complaint system be made more transparent and accessible.
 

Live tweeting commentary on the hearing by Courtney Milan (pen name of former law prof and Kozinski judicial clerk Heidi Bond) @courtneymilan 

For more on the Working Group Report from the committee which studied the issue:

The Federal Judiciary Working Group Issues Its Report on Workplace Sexual Misconduct

Working Group Recommends Changes to Prevent Workplace Harassment in the Judiciary

June 13, 2018 in Courts, Judges, Legislation, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

CFP The Trump Administration and the War on Diversity

2018 Law & Society Association Diversity Committee and Wake Forest University Law Review Symposium Issue

“The Trump Administration and the War on Diversity”

Call for Papers

The Trump Administration has inspired much criticism within the realm of diversity advocates. Since his election, President Trump has moved swiftly to change and overhaul civil rights protections. Exclusionary actions on the part of the Executive Branch have already impacted universities and workplaces across the nation. To the dismay of diversity advocates, these attacks on inclusion have been both numerous and effective in emboldening those who have long fought against efforts for greater diversity and inclusion.

These attacks impact diversity at a broader level including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, religion, genetic/health status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and addiction. There are few indications that the administration will limit itself to these actions. This symposium issue explores the iterations and nuances of diversity and discrimination during the Trump Administration.

We invite scholars from all fields to submit 500-word proposals for papers to be submitted to the symposium issue by Friday, August 3, 2018. Proposals must be sent to Hailey Cleek, the Senior Articles Editor (cleehm16@wfu.edu). The Law Review will accept two types of proposals: (1) those that will be longer pieces (approximately 8,000 - 15,000 words) to be published in the bound edition of the Law Review and (2) those that will be shorter pieces (between 2,000-2,500 words with approximately 50 footnotes) and published in the Law Review’s on-line platform. Submissions can explore any topic relevant to understanding diversity in the context of the Trump Administration. Interdisciplinary and diverse approaches (historical, philosophical, qualitative, quantitative, etc.) are strongly encouraged.

Papers accepted for publication will be due on December 3, 2018 with an expected length of approximately 12,000 words. First author reads will be returned March 13, 2019 with needed revisions on March 20, 2019. Final author reads will be April 5, 2019 with needed revisions on April 12, 2019. Shorter, on-line submissions must be submitted by January 25, 2019. Please indicate if the submission is a colloquy and who the colloquy author is. Colloquies will follow an opening statement, rebuttal, and closing statement format.

June 12, 2018 in Call for Papers | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Unfinished Story of Roe v. Wade

Reva Siegel & Linda Greenhouse, The Unfinished Story of Roe v. Wade, in Reproductive Rights and Justice Stories (Melissa Murray, Kate Shaw & Reva Siegel eds., forthcoming 2019)

We tell the story of Roe v. Wade for a forthcoming volume in the Foundation Press Law Stories series. To those who support abortion rights, Roe demonstrates the Court’s crucial role in protecting individual rights in the face of determined political opposition. For its critics, Roe was the work of an “unelected” Court creating new constitutional rights; supposedly, by deciding matters properly left to democratic determination, the Court inflamed conflict over abortion and riled our politics.

We explain the origins of the abortion right and conflicts over it differently. The story we tell is not simply a litigation history of a landmark case, but as importantly a story about the democratic foundations of our constitutional law. We start our account of the abortion conflict before Supreme Court litigation begins. Conflict enters the picture well before the courts do, as people argue over the Constitution’s meaning in their everyday lives. We recount how citizens who lacked power in any conventional sense were able over time to change the way the nation and its courts understood longstanding guarantees of liberty, of equality, and of life.

Roe itself, filed in federal district court in Dallas in March 1970, was one of many cases in the late 1960s and early 1970s that invoked the Constitution to challenge the century-old regime of criminal abortion statutes; Roe just happened to be first in line on the Supreme Court's docket. These cases emerged from principled and heated dialogue among powerful social movements that initially did not even have courts in view. The story of Roe v. Wade is the story of conflict born in democratic politics that engendered the rights claims that the Court would ultimately recognize. The conflict continues to this day, even as advocates and their arguments have changed as few would have expected. 

This framework offers a fresh context for reading Roe. Enlarging our perspective in this way allows us to recover claims for and against abortion rights to which the Court’s opinion in Roe responded, as well as claims that the Court ignored—claims for women’s equality and for protecting potential life that played an important role in reshaping the abortion right nearly twenty years later in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey

The account of Roe’s history the chapter offers can inform both normative and predictive debate about Roe’s future.

June 12, 2018 in Abortion, Constitutional, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 11, 2018

Registration Open for Georgia Women's Leadership in Academia Conference

Hello,

The University of Georgia School of Law and the Women’s Leadership in Academia initiative is proud to announce that our 2018 summer conference is now open for registration!

Please visit the conference website at http://www.law.uga.edu/womens-leadership-academia-conference to see the schedule, read about supplemental events such as a CV review opportunity and an optional book club, and register to attend! The conference website also has information about travel and available hotel blocks.

 

The Women’s Leadership in Academia Conference will be held July 19-20, 2018 at the University of Georgia’s School of Law in beautiful Athens, GA. This conference provides substantive leadership programming aimed at advancing women law professors, law librarians, and clinicians in leadership positions in the academy.

 

Please circulate this announcement widely to your friends and colleagues interested in advancing women in legal education. We hope you will be able to join us!

June 11, 2018 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0)

Illinois Ratifies the Equal Rights Amendment

Illinois Ratifies Equal Rights Amendment Decades After Deadline

Illinois state lawmakers voted Wednesday to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment — decades after Congress’s deadline to ratify the measure expired.

The Illinois House passed the measure 72-45, the Chicago Tribune reported. The state Senate had voted in favor of ratification last month, and it does not require the support of Gov. Bruce Rauner (R).

The passage sets the stage for a possible legal battle over the amendment, since Congress’s deadline for states to ratify the amendment expired in 1982.

But supporters argue that because a 1789 amendment was ratified more than two centuries later, in 1992, the Equal Rights Amendment could still be added to the Constitution, the Tribune noted.

Congress approved the amendment in 1972. But only 35 states ratified it ahead of the deadline, three short of the number required to add it to the Constitution.

Nevada similarly ratified the Equal Rights Amendment last year after the deadline.

See also Illinois Approves Equal Rights Amendment, 36 Years after Deadline

Some critics have also questioned the necessity of such an amendment, saying federal laws have already been passed to extend equal rights to women. Stone said ratification of the amendment “would make some difference in marginal cases where the law allows discrimination today” and “lock in” many of the federal protections women have gained over the decades.

“The main reason for adopting the Equal Rights Amendment today if one could legally, constitutionally do it would be the symbolic importance of it,” Stone said. “The rejection of it is in some ways insulting. So, the symbolic importance of it is to who we are as a nation — what our aspirations are, what our values are. That in itself is an important affirmation of who we are.”

For the legal history of the ERA from beginning to end, see my chapter with TJ Boisseau, After Suffrage Comes Equal Rights? ERA as the Next Logical Step, in 100 Years of the Nineteenth Amendment: An Appraisal of Women's Political Activism (Holly J. McCammon & Lee Ann Banaszak, eds.) (Oxford Press 2018)

The ERA Coalition believes the time is ripe again for an equal rights amendment, given the next generation’s interest and recent political activity (Neuwirth 2015). In 2014 Oregon passed a state ERA referendum with 64% of the vote. Illinois and Virginia also passed state ERA laws, two states that had not previously ratified the federal ERA. Federal ERA  proponents advocate a “three-states-more” strategy, which assumes the continued validity of the prior ratifications and seeks ratification of ther required three additional states. One state, Nevada, ratified the ERA in March 2017. This extended ratification strategy is supported by the delayed the ratification of the Twenty-Seventh Amendment (salary change for Congress must take effect the following term),  as it was sent to the states for ratification in 1789, but not ratified until 1992, when the last states joined (Burroughs 2015).

June 11, 2018 in Constitutional, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Federal Judiciary Committee Issues its Report on Workplace Sexual Misconduct

Workplace Changes Recommended for Judiciary

The Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Working Group, a group of federal judges and senior Judiciary officials formed at the request of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., issued a report recommending measures to improve workplace conduct policies and procedures in the federal Judiciary. The Working Group submitted its findings to the Judicial Conference of the United States, the federal Judiciary’s policy-making body. The report and an executive summary are available online.

 

The recommendations include clarifying workplace standards and communications about how employees can raise formal complaints, removing barriers to reporting complaints, providing additional and less formal avenues for employees to seek expert advice and assistance on workplace conduct issues, and utilizing enhanced training on these subjects for judges and employees.

 

Several recommendations of the Working Group have already been implemented or are underway, such as clarifying that confidentiality rules in the Judiciary do not prevent law clerks or employees from reporting misconduct by judges. Many of the report’s recommendations require further action by the Judicial Conference.  

The report is here.

Commentary by Joan Biskupic, CNN, Judicial "Inappropriate Conduct" Broader than Isolated Incidents, Panel Finds

A special US judiciary working group set up last December after a prominent appeals court judge was accused of sexual harassment reported on Monday that "inappropriate conduct" in the nation's courthouses is "not limited to a few isolated instances."

 
Yet the eight-member group -- which met with scores of former and current employees of the judiciary and invited comment nationwide -- did not detail the magnitude of employee abuse in the US judiciary beyond saying it was "not pervasive." The group also did not note whether, during its five months of study, any action was taken against individual judges or other court employees.
The working group, which was established by Chief Justice John Roberts, made several recommendations in its report, including that:
  • judges should put a greater priority on improving workplace culture
  • the code of conduct should be revised to make clear what behavior is prohibited
  • the complaint system should be made more transparent and accessible.

June 11, 2018 in Courts, Judges, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Students Brainstorm How to Change the World on Law & Gender

Melissa Berger, Inspirational Office Art

Each law student was provided with two index cards.  One was entitled ACTION ITEM and the other was entitled TAKE-AWAY. The students were asked to complete the cards in their own handwriting and in their own words. I explained to the students that the cards would be placed onto a poster that would hang in my office. The Action Item was to describe a concrete step forward in the area of Gender Equality that the students hoped we could achieve. I had them tie this action item to their specific research and final paper in the class. If the goal had been achieved by the next time they saw the poster, they could remove the card from the board.  (Cards were taped loosely with decorative metallic tape). The Take-Away item was to describe what each student would take away from the course and hopefully pass forward.

 

Once the cards were completed, I had the students bring the cards to our last class. For this class, I reserved a free conference room in the back of a nearby coffee and bagel shop. My (mostly, but not entirely female) students apparently had named this our “Empowerment Brunch.”

 

I had each law student “present” their cards and tape the cards onto a black poster board. The end result was an inspirational poster board that the students can re-visit whenever they visit their alma mater.

 

Ahead of class, I had explained to the students in an email:  “During this class, we will engage in a BRAINSTORMING SESSION about how to CHANGE THE WORLD. To that end, please bring with you your two INDEX CARDS filled out in advance. Remember the TAKE-AWAY card is what will you take away from this course (perhaps from the readings, the presentations, the classes, other).  What will you take with you for years to come (and perhaps pass forward)? Remember the ACTION ITEM card is based upon the research you conducted this semester – what do you hope we can accomplish specifically?  What is the one action item that could solve or ameliorate your legal dilemma/question?

 

I will make up a poster board with our cards and other graphics and keep it on display in my office.   In future years, when you come visit me—perhaps we will see real progress on some of these action items. After a semester of heavy coursework, let’s stay positive and push this ball forward. We are all relying on YOUR GENERATION to change how the law treats gender going forward.”

 

Some of the students’ Action items would likely actualize in the near future, such as “Get three people a year to watch a women’s sports events.” Others were loftier, but so important to articulate: “I want to dedicate my legal career to public service to help women, transgender and non-gender conforming individuals to gain full equality under the law.”

 

In terms of the Take-Aways, the cards were varied and proved quite moving as well, such as: “The law touches nearly every aspect of women’s lives,” and “Discussion about equality promotes equality.”

 

It was a terrific final class full of motivating conversation and plenty of dreaming. This poster proudly hangs in my office and still inspires me today

June 11, 2018 in Education, Law schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Jurisprudence of Uncertainty: Knowledge, Science & Abortion

Mary Ziegler, The Jurisprudence of Uncertainty: Knowledge, Science & Abortion, 2018 Wisconsin L. Rev. 316 (2018)

While the outcome of abortion cases seems to depend exclusively on the undue-burden standard, we have mostly missed the linchpin of recent decisions: conclusions about who has the authority to resolve uncertain scientific or moral questions. Using original archival research, this Article traces the history and present-day impact of the law and politics of uncertainty doctrine in abortion law.

 

The Article makes sense of the inconsistency running through the Court’s abortion jurisprudence: that the Court has not applied a single, coherent definition of uncertainty. Specifically, the Court has confused objective uncertainty, involving gaps in knowledge that can theoretically be closed through research, and subjective uncertainty, involving moral, ethical, or philosophical questions. Conflating these two kinds of uncertainty has led the Court to inject moral disapproval and disgust into what theoretically are questions of fact.

 

The Article proposes that the Court should formally distinguish between objective and subjective uncertainty. In cases of subjective uncertainty, the Court should generally defer to legislatures’ views on matters like the value of fetal life or equality for women, balancing them against the constitutional liberty recognized in Casey and Roe. When dealing with objective uncertainty, the Court should look for evidence on the purpose and effect of a law as the Court recently explained in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Disentangling the two forms of uncertainty will make abortion jurisprudence more coherent, consistent, and faithful to the balance of competing constitutional values that Casey and Whole Woman’s Health command.

June 11, 2018 in Abortion, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

CFP The Uses and Abuses of History in the Trump Era

Call for Papers

Conference: “The Uses and Abuses of History in the Trump Era”

Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY

March 28-29, 2019

“The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.” –George Orwell

Scholars, artists, and writers are invited to submit proposals for presentations at this interdisciplinary conference.

Conference theme:

The past is infinitely productive as a deep well of symbolic persuasion. Political actors dip into the well for inspirational tales of heroes and cautionary tales of reprobates and failed experiments. Evocations of the past insinuate messages of belonging, the contours of the polity, values, and leadership.

During the 2016 US presidential campaign, the candidates harnessed public memory to gain support. While Hillary Clinton aligned herself with the suffragists as she aimed to become the country’s first female president nearly a century after women gained the right to vote, Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” stirred up nostalgic visions of hope for white, working-class male prosperity and pride.

Since the election, the historical imagination has been pushed into overdrive, as a highly polarized electorate aims to promote its vision of the nation’s future, often by asserting certain narratives about the past. Examples can be seen in debates about the racism of famous suffragists, the statues of confederate soldiers, a portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office, “Pocahontas” as a slur, Harriett Tubman’s image on the $20 bill, the flag as a symbol of “our heritage,” “chain migration” and “anchor babies,” whether the country is a “nation of immigrants,” and whether it was “founded on Judeo-Christian principles.”

This conference celebrates the publication of and features work by contributors to the interdisciplinary volume, Nasty Women and Bad Hombres: Gender and Race in the 2016 US Presidential Election (Christine A. Kray, Tamar W. Carroll, and Hinda Mandell, eds., University of Rochester Press, forthcoming October 2018). While the book sits at the heart of the conference, we also call upon scholars, artists and writers to present new works related to the conference themes.

Possible topics:

We seek presentations that: analyze recent evocations of the past in national political discourse, offer correctives of such representations, and/or situate contemporary developments in historical context.

Possible areas of investigation include (but are not limited to):

  • Critical analyses of heritage, tradition, nostalgia, commemoration, and politics
  • “Alternative facts” and alternative histories
  • The historical role of news media in U.S. politics and charges of “fake news”
  • Social media, popular media, and national politics
  • Stephen Bannon’s historical vision
  • History and nationalism, including the global resurgence of nationalism and the history and contemporary expressions of White nationalism in the U.S.
  • Men’s movements and the alt-right
  • S.-Russia relations
  • Policymaking, including environmental, industrial, and trade; “Bring back coal”; “Bring back manufacturing”
  • Religious histories and histories of religion in U.S. politics
  • Contemporary social movements, including #BlackLivesMatter, #NoDAPL, #MeToo, #NeverAgain, and the Women’s Marches
  • Histories of resistance and history-within-resistance; creativity and history in art, craft, dance, and song
  • Suffragist history and “pro-life feminism”
  • The occupation at Standing Rock and symbols of sovereignty; Right by prior occupation: indigenous sovereignty and Zionism, compared
  • Immigration policy and race relations; “genealogical activism” and #ResistanceGenealogy; Rep. Steve King (R-IA): “We cannot restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
  • Post-election memoirs and public memory of the 2016 presidential election
  • The historical significance of women running for election in the 2018 midterms
  • The right, the left, and the FBI
  • Kanye West on Harriet Tubman and slavery as a “choice”
  • Public anthropology, public history, and national politics

Presentation proposals:

Abstracts of 300-500 words should be sent to Christine Kray: cakgss@rit.edu.

Deadline for submission of abstracts: Sept. 1, 2018

Accepted presenters will be notified by Sept. 15, 2018

Questions? Contact the conference organizers:

Christine A. Kray, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Rochester Institute of Technology, cakgss@rit.edu

Tamar W. Carroll, Department of History, Rochester Institute of Technology, twcgsh@rit.edu

Conference participants will have the option of participating in a tour of the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House and a trip to the Mount Hope Cemetery to visit the graves of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. The conference will also feature a showing of “Election Day 2016,” a documentary film about the convergence on Susan B. Anthony’s grave in 2016.

A nominal registration fee for conference presenters will cover all meals. Information about hotel group rates, directions, parking, and tours is forthcoming. All conference rooms will be equipped with projector, screen, Internet connection, and microphone. Sign-language interpreters are available upon request, subject to availability.

Conference website: https://www.rit.edu/cla/socanthro/conference-uses-and-abuses-history-trump-era

June 11, 2018 in Call for Papers, Media, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 11, 2018

Reconceptualizing Sexual Harassment, Again

Vicki Schultz, Reconceptualizing Sexual Harassment, Again

Twenty years ago, I published an article in the Yale Law Journal entitled “Reconceptualizing Sexual Harassment.” Five years later, I published a follow-up article in YLJ. These two pieces anchored a body of writing that proposed a new theory of sexual harassment. 

Recent events reveal the work still depressingly relevant. Still relevant, because sexual harassment remains far too widespread, despite forty years of activism and legal reform. And still relevant, because the need for an adequate theoretical framework to guide action remains as pressing as ever, twenty years later.

Now is the time to reinvigorate theory. With the election of Donald Trump and the rise of the #MeToo movement, we are witnessing an extraordinary cultural moment of resistance against sexual harassment — one that could enable real change. I am heartened by the courage, tenacity, and smarts of the women and men who have come forward to challenge harassment in an effort to change the status quo. I include here not only the survivors who have risked so much to share their stories, but also the reporters who have worked to expose long-held secrets in the entertainment, technology, media, and other important industries. Most reports have focused on workplace or career-related harassment, a focus that is unsurprising given the centrality of work and workplace inequality to women’s lives. For that reason, this essay will focus on workplace harassment (though much of the analysis would apply also to sexual harassment on campus, a sphere that is important in its own right and as a training ground for professional life).

May 11, 2018 in Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)