Tuesday, December 3, 2013
It's Giving Tuesday, the cleanse after the obsene self-indulgence of black friday, brown thursday, and cyber monday. The idea is to give back, really to give to anyone other than ourselves. Want to give to causes related to women, gender and law? Here are some ideas:
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
More of the backstory reported by the NY Times in Custody Battle Raises Questions About the Rights of Women. The father, Olympian skier Bode Miller, filed for custody of the child before the child was born. Which led to claims that the pregnant mother improperly relocated out of state against that custody jurisdiction when she moved to go to college.
The NY appellate court reversed.
We therefore, disagree with the Referee's finding that the mother's "appropriation of the child while in utero was irresponsible" and "reprehensible" and warranted a declination of jurisdiction in favor of the California court. Rather, the mother's conduct at issue here amounts to nothing more than her decision to relocate to New York during her pregnancy. Further, we reject the Referee's apparent suggestion that, prior to her relocation, the mother needed to somehow arrange her relocation with the father with whom she had only a brief romantic relationship. Putative fathers have neither the right nor the ability to restrict a pregnant woman from her constitutionally-protected liberty.
Interestingly, there is a text early in the pregnancy from the father disavowing any interest in the child -- very similar to a text the father sent in the Baby Veronica case that the US Supreme Court honed in on as evidence of the unsuitability of an unmarried, biological father.
Keith Cunningham-Parmeter has posted Men at Work, Fathers at Home: Uncovering the Masculine Face of Caregiver Discrimination. Here's the abstract.
Despite their many workplace advances, women remain constrained by an enduring social expectation that they will manage their families’ domestic lives. Women will not achieve full workplace equality until men do more at home, and men will not enter the domestic sphere if they face employment retaliation for doing so. Men at Work, Fathers at Home addresses this problem by critically evaluating the legal challenges that fathers and other male caregivers face in proving claims of workplace discrimination. Drawing from Supreme Court precedent and gender theory, the Article explains how masculine norms deter men from asserting their caregiving needs at work, while undermining their ability to prosecute discrimination claims in court. By examining how these men can combat biases against male caregiving, the Article seeks to advance the goal of gender equality for both sexes.
Applied Feminism and Democracy: The Fifth Annual Feminist Legal Theory
Conference. 42 U. Balt. L. Rev. 207-363 (2013).
Mikulski, Sen. Barbara. Symposium dialogue: keynote speaker. [Moderated by Margaret E. Johnson.] 42 U. Balt. L. Rev. 211-228 (2013).
Newman, Alizabeth. Reflections on VAWA?s strange bedfellows: the partnership between the battered immigrant women?s movement and law enforcement. 42 U. Balt. L. Rev. 229-276 (2013).
George, Janel A. Beyond a beautiful fraud: using a human rights framework to realize the promise of democracy. 42 U. Balt. L. Rev. 277-328 (2013).
Van Cleave, Rachel A. Luogo e spazio, place and space: gender quotas and democracy in Italy. 42 U. Balt. L. Rev. 329-363 (2013)
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Thursday, November 21, 2013
At a speech at American University Law school, Sotomayor Says Lack of Diversity is "Huge Danger" for Judiciary
We're missing a huge amount of diversity on the bench," she said, and not just racial or gender diversity. It bothers her that judges rarely come to the bench from the defense bar, from civil rights experience, or from solo or small practices. She stressed that she did not think a more diverse bench would necessarily decide cases differently. "None of us speak in one voice." Instead, enabling the public to see their own backgrounds reflected in the judiciary would "give the public more confidence" that they are getting a fair hearing.
Albuquerque voters rejected a proposed 20-week ban on abortion 55% to45%. The initiative effort may be new, but the municipal venue is not. In the early years after Roe v. Wade, the newly organized National Right to Life focused its strategy on passing laws at the city level. The most famous municipal law was the 18 provision "informed consent" law passed in 1978 here in Akron, Ohio. It was ultimately overturned by the US Supreme Court in City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health (1983) as an unconstitutional restriction on women's right to automony. I detail the backstory of the law using original interviews with many of the key players in the case in a forthcoming article Back to the Future of Abortion Regulation in the First Term.
The interview: Gloria Steinem: No Such Thing as a Feminist Icon
If pressed for an adjective, I would call myself a radical feminist because it’s been my experience that the discrimination of females is the root of other violence. It normalizes other violence and it’s necessary to perpetuate racism. But I don’t feel like that divides. On campuses, people would ask me if I was a difference feminist or an equalist feminist and I used to say “yes” because it depends on the situation of what needs to be done
Monday, November 18, 2013
The US Supreme Court denied cert in Martin v. Blessing challenging a settlement in the antitrust class action regarding the merger of satellite radio providers Sirrius and XM. Justice Alito took the opportunity to chastise the trial judge in the case, Judge Harold Baer of the S.D. of New York for his "highly unusual practice" of requiring that lawyers for the class fairly represent the class in terms of race and gender.
I am hardpressed to see any ground on which Judge Baer’s practice can be defended. This Court has often stressed that "[r]acial discrimination has no place in the courtroom, whether the proceeding is civil or criminal." . . . . Court approved discrimination based on gender is similarly objectionable, and therefore it is doubtful that the practice in question could survive a constitutional challenge.
Alito thought the judge's standard order meant that "if the class consisted of persons who had undergone treatment for breast cancer," the court would "favor firms with a high percentage of female lawyers. Fair or proportional representativethough would require more like 95% women lawyers if the class of breast cancer patients was 95% women.
And how would that work in this particular case? Satellite radio listeners have mostly been older, white, rich men.
Judge Baer seems less concerned about matching characteristics of the lawyers and class, than with ensuring generalized racial and gender diversity of the counsel. See Michael Hurwitz, Judge Harold Baer's Quixotic Crusadefor Class Counsel Diversity, 17 Cardozo J. L. & Gender 321 (2011)
Some of the findings from the new Bureau of Labor Statistics Report.
- Full-time women earn 81 percent of men's earnings. In 1979, it was 62 percent.
- Age Matters: Women under 24 make 90 percent. Women over 55 only 76 percent.
- Best occupations for women: pharmacists ($1,871/week) and lawyers ($1,636). For men, physicians and surgeons ($2,099), lawyers ($2,055), and pharmacists ($1,879) earned the most.
- Full-time workers who are parents of minor children: women with kids earn $680/week, men with kids earn $946.
- Women are more likely than men to work part time (<35 hrs/week). Women who worked part time made up 26 percent of all female wage and salary workers in 2012
Saturday, November 16, 2013
The school board's defense in a suit by a middle school girl. Safety is Top Concern for Line Mtn Officials in Co-ed Wrestling Suit
In statements, Superintendent Dave Campbell, three board members and two wrestling coaches say they are protecting seventh-grade student Audrianna Beattie and male athletes from potentially awkward situations and sexual contact during wrestling practices and matches, psychological scarring and inevitable injury and defeat of female wrestlers....
There are clear and present anatomical differences between males and females, especially when individuals reach the age of puberty," he said. "Therefore, in an effort to promote students safety, all students have an equal right to be protected from any undesired contact of sensual body parts from a person of the opposite sex."
By forcing students to wrestle co-ed, Laudenslager said those students would be required to "lower their moral standards and expose them to indecent contact from a member of the opposite sex."
Because girls are at core, sexual objects.
See Deborah Brake, Wrestling with Gender: Constructing Masculinity by Refusing to Wrestle Women.
On March 20-21, 2014, the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota will be hosting a two-day program continuing a conversation begun by feminist legal scholars and theologians in the recently published collection of essays by feminists of a wide variety of religious perspectives, Feminism, Law, and Religion (Ashgate Press 2013, Failinger, Schiltz and Stabile eds). The book’s authors and others will be exploring the role that theology and religious law from various religious traditions can play in construing and critiquing just law throughout the world. The complete list of panel topics and speakers and conference registration information can be found on the university’s website http://www.stthomas.edu/murphyinstitute/upcomingevents/conversations-in-feminism-law-and-religion-.html
To enrich and continue this conversation beyond these two days, one segment of the conference will be devoted to supporting emerging scholarship on these issues. We are currently accepting proposals for two different types of opportunities for emerging scholars:
1) presenting a work-in-progress on feminism, law, and religion in a supportive workshop environment;
2) hosting an informal conversation on some particular aspect of this conference with other conference participants.
Scholars interested in either presenting a work-in-progress or hosting a conversation should send a brief (no longer than one page) description of their work or conversation topic to Seanne Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 30, 2013. Applicants will be notified of acceptance by December 15, 2013.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Today is Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s birthday. Stanton was the chief philosopher, organizer and legal advocate for the first women’s rights movement in the nineteenth century. Most people remember Stanton, if at all, as the founder of the women’s suffrage movement with her Declaration of Sentiments on July 15, 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, demanding the vote for women. Now, the National Women's Rights Museum is located on this site near Stanton’s home.
Stanton,however, had a much broader, holistic agenda for women’s rights. She envisioned reform of political, civil, social and religious rights all for the full emancipation of women. Her key points of emphasis were voting, marriage, and later, the church. I have spent nearly a decade devoted to archival research on Stanton’s legal and feminist thinking about family law. The culmination of that work is forthcoming in a book for NYU Press, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Feminist Foundations of Family Law. The book traces her work on marital property reform, marriage equality, no fault divorce, domestic violence, abortion, and maternal rights. See Tracy Thomas, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Federal Marriage Amendment: A Letter to the President, 22 Constl. Comm. 137 (2005); Tracy Thomas Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Notion of a Legal Class of Gender, in Feminist Legal History: Essays on Women and Law (Tracy A. Thomas & TJ
Boisseau, eds., NYU 2011).
It’s cliché to say that those who fail to read history are destined to repeat it. More like just ignore it. It has become conventional wisdom to depict Stanton as a narrow libertarian feminist and anti-abortion advocate. For example, she is featured by Feminists for Life in promotional material and US Supreme Court amicus briefs as “strongly opposed to abortion.” I refute the arguments and trace Stanton’s work in the context of the nineteenth century’s criminalization of abortion in a recent article, Misappropriating Women's History in the Law and Politics of Abortion, 36 Seattle U. L. Rev. 1 (2012).
Stanton developed and applied a feminist legal theory in challenging the laws of coverture and inequality in the family. She deconstructed the supposed objectivity of the law, exposed the inherent self-interest of men in power, and integrated women’s experience into the proposed legal solutions. This is perhaps her greatest legacy—demonstrating a long-standing feminist critique and demand for women’s voice in the law.
See Calif. Transgender Law's Opponents Petition for Repeal. Opponents cite privacy concerns of the non-transgendered students. "One of the provisions gives transgender students the choice of playing on either boys or girls sports teams. It also allows them to choose which restroom that want to use."
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Veterans Day raises conflicting responses from feminists. While it is a day to honor lives given in service, it is also a day that reminds us of women’s historical exclusion from power, opportunities and benefits. Women’s exclusion from the military and advantageous combat positions has had the trickle-down effect of denying them the ancillary veterans’ benefits of GI-bill education, family support, small business loans, and healthcare. Veterans’ preferences in employment, home loans, problem-solving courts, and treatment programs disparately advantage men to significant economic benefit. Even now as women seek these military opportunities, they are only tokenly being “tested” for combat roles, reminded that there "will be no lowering of standards." As if that's required. And as if the standard itself is not male defined.
For reading on gendered implications of veterans, see:
Personnel Administration v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256 (1979).
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Akron Law's Miller-Becker Institute for Professional Responsibility welcomes tomorrow Supreme Court reporter Joan Biskupic. Her talk is From Thurgood Marshall to Sonia Sotomayor: The Voices of Groundbreaking Supreme Court Justices. Biskupic "will reflect on the careers of Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, the country’s first Hispanic justice, and the impact their service has made on the high court." She is the author of biographies on Justices O'Connor and Scalia.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
The New York Times reports on the Senate vote to move the Employment NonDiscrimination Act (ENDA) forward. "A measure that would outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity overcame a significant obstacle in the Senate on Monday as seven Republicans crossed party lines and voted to begin debate on the bill."
The full text of the bill is here. The proposed act essentially extends the procedures and remedies of Title VII to sexual orientation. It defines ‘gender identity’ as "the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth." It defines "sexual orientation" as homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality."
For some of the legal scholarship on ENDA, see:
Jennifer Hendricks, Instead of ENDA: A Course Correction for Title VII
William Rubenstein, Do Gay Rights Laws Matter? An Empirical Assessment.
Brian Soueck, Perceived Homosexuals: Looking Gay Enough for Title VII