Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SCOTUS Fair Housing Case on Disparate Impact Important to Domestic Violence Victims

ACLU, Supreme Court Decision Could be Crucial to Protecting Domestic Violence Survivors

But now, the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to decide a case that will determine the future of this key legal protection. Next week, the court will consider whether the Fair Housing Act prohibits policies that have a discriminatory effect, regardless of whether they were adopted with the intent to discriminate, in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.

 

Without the ability to bring disparate impact claims, many domestic violence survivors will have no recourse when they face the same double victimization as Ms. Alvera: first abuse, then an eviction notice blaming them for the violence in their homes. Even more disturbingly, landlords usually only become aware of the violence after survivors call for help, and so survivors are forced to choose between seeking safety and keeping their homes.***

 

Most of the time, landlords that hold victims of abuse responsible for violence perpetrated against them do not say they are making their decisions because they intend to discriminate against women. Yet, as we described in our amicus brief, it is clear that the majority of domestic violence victims are women, and that time and again, the homes and security of female victims of domestic violence are jeopardized because ostensibly neutral housing policies that evict entire households following criminal activity are enforced against them.

January 20, 2015 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sexual Assault on Campus: It's Because Too Many Women Attend College

Or so argues Phyllis Schlafly in Salon.  

Conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly is worried that college campuses are populated by too many women, a phenomenon she insinuated has contributed to increased sexual assault on campus.

In a Monday column for the far-right website World Net Daily, the longtime anti-feminist crusader lamented the declining portion of university enrollments accounted for by men. Schlafly — BA and JD, Washington University in St. Louis; MA, Radcliffe College — argued that it may even be time to implement quotas to ensure that men constitute at least half of a college’s enrollment.

“Long ago when I went to college, campuses were about 70 percent male, and until 1970 it was still nearly 60 percent,” Schlafly wrote. “Today, however, the male percentage has fallen to the low 40s on most campuses.”

 

January 19, 2015 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

SCOTUS Blog rundown on same sex marriage scholarship

SCOTUS Blog has some articles on the same sex marriage issue now taken up by the Supreme Court for review.

January 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Problems of Intersex Prisoners

A recent student Note in the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly examines the status of intersex prisoners. It's available here and the abstract reads:

Miki Ann DiMarco spent 438 days in the most restrictive and isolated housing pod at Wyoming Department of Corrections due to the fact that she was “classified as an individual of ambiguous
gender.”

Even though DiMarco identified herself as female since puberty, she was segregated from the general prison population because of her gender ambiguity. Biologically speaking, she “has a
nearly complete set of male reproductive organs however [sic] does not have testicles . . . [or] female reproductive organs.”

People who are intersex, such as DiMarco, “fail to fit neatly into the traditional male/female binary construct.” DiMarco’s case demonstrates the difficulty in determining appropriate housing arrangements in the prison system for people whose bodies do not conform to the
traditional male/female dichotomy.


This Note seeks to examine the problems that arise due to the insistence upon a binary society with regards to sex. First, this Note sheds light on sex as a spectrum, rather than the classic male/female dichotomy—particularly focusing on the different conditions of intersex people. Next, this Note discusses the ways in which prison authorities house and treat intersex prisoners. The potential constitutional violations of these housing classifications is analyzed with special emphasis on the DiMarco case.

January 19, 2015 in LGBT, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 16, 2015

When Sexism and Racism Collide

From the Atlantic:

A scuffle between a largely black sorority and a predominantly white fraternity provides an interesting case study on Title IX.

Peter Morenus/UConn Photo

At first, the kerfuffle at the University of Connecticut between a largely black sorority and a predominantly white fraternity might seem a lot like the big-kid version of a schoolyard fight. It is, after all, a dispute over an iconic boulder on campus affectionately known as the “Spirit Rock.” No one has been physically hurt, and campus officials have taken action in response to the event.

But a closer look at the quarrel likely reveals a racially charged conflict in whichwhite frat brothers, according to university investigators’ initial findings, physically intimidated the group of black women, hurling verbal insults at them, including “fat black bitch” and “whores.” It has forced university officials—administrators accustomed to treating race and gender bias as distinct problems—to grapple with a conflict that’s almost certainly shaped by some combination of both issues. What’s more, the Spirit Rock affair is unfolding at a time when public scrutiny of issues related to sexual violence and harassment on campus has reached an all-time high. Turns out that what happened at the Spirit Rock is hardly a petty matter.

 

January 16, 2015 in Education, Masculinities, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cardinal Burke: Radical Feminism Is Threat to Catholicism

From WaPo:

Last week, Cardinal Raymond Burke delivered a whopper of a manifesto in an interview with something called “The Emangelization,” which seeks to restore a sense of manliness to men in the church. In the interview, Burke offered a lengthy meditation on what he perceives to be the problem with the modern church. Most of them began, he said, with the advent of the women’s rights movement during the 1960s, which pushed for female participation in the Catholic Church. He derided it as “radical feminism.”

When that happened, the “goodness and importance of men became very obscured,” which gave rise to a “very feminized” Church, he said: “There was a period of time when men who were feminized and confused about their own sexual identity had entered the priesthood; sadly some of these disordered men sexually abused minors; a terrible tragedy for which the Church mourns.”

 And some background on the Cardinal: 

 The former archbishop of St. Louis, who once said supporters of abortion rights shouldn’t receive communion, became the highest-ranking American in the Vatican during the tenure of former Pope Benedict on the strength of unabashed conservatism. But as soon as Pope Francis arrived on the scene, that same conservatism turned divisive when Burke criticized Francis’s progressive policies.

For example, Burke, who headed the Vatican’s highest court of canon law, lampooned Francis in a Buzzfeed interview late last year. He said Francis had “done a lot of harm. … The pope is not free to change the church’s teachings with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts.” Weeks later, the pope booted the rampaging cardinal, who had come to symbolize the so-called “Culture Wars” roiling the Vatican, demoting him to a ceremonial post with the charity group Knights of Malta.

 

January 16, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Breastaurants Exacerbate Sexual Harassment Problem

Surprised? And yes, there is something people (or some people) actually call "breastaurants."

HuffPo, Breastaurants Booming as the Restaurant Industry Struggles

The so-called "breastaurants" take inspiration from Hooters, the 30-year-old chain known for big-breasted waitresses wearing short shorts and oddly orange pantyhose. But today's cleavage chains have updated the concept with fresher-looking spaces and menus better suited to today's young people who are increasingly interested in artisanal food and craft beer.***

 

“Men are simple creatures and so you don’t have to get too crazy to get them in the door,” said Kristen Colby, the chain’s senior director of marketing, adding that all it takes is an ice cold beer, sports on TV and beautiful girls.

 

“We know we're not for everybody and that’s okay,” she said, noting that other casual dining chains have struggled in part because they’re trying to be all things to all people.***

 

The restaurants create an environment that exacerbates an already prevalent problem, said Liz Watson, the director of workplace justice for women at the National Women’s Law Center. The restaurant industry is notoriously rife with sexual harassment -- nearly 80 percent of female servers say they’ve been harassed on the job, according to a report released last year by Restaurant Opportunities United, a restaurant worker advocacy group.

 

January 15, 2015 in Equal Employment | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Value of the Paycheck Fairness Act

Nicole Porter (Toledo), "Choices, Bias, and the Value of the Paycheck Fairness Act: A Response Essay"  29 ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law 429 (2014)

This essay is in response to an article written by three practitioners, who argue that the pay gap is not primarily caused by employer discrimination, but rather can be attributed to many factors, including the choices made by women regarding occupation, caregiving, and commitment to the workforce. Thus, they argue that we should not place the blame on employers and focus on the reach of anti-discrimination laws, and should instead acknowledge that there is a broader problem caused by entrenched social norms that the law cannot change. I have a slightly different perspective. Although I agree with the authors’ assertion that much of the pay gap is caused by the choices men and women make, I disagree with them in several respects. First, I disagree that employers are primarily blamed for the pay gap. In fact, as I have argued elsewhere, the pay gap is often blamed on the choices women make. Second, and more importantly, I believe that most workplace choices made by women (and men) are constrained by social norms and workplace structures that are not compatible with balancing work and family. And, finally, although I agree with the authors that the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act cannot solve all of the problems with the Equal Pay Act, I believe it can make a dent in the pay gap, especially with a few minor tweaks. 

January 15, 2015 in Equal Employment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Steubenville Redux: The Vanderbilt Case

Reuters, Prosecutors Detail Assault as Vanderbilt Rape Trial Opens

Prosecutors recounted graphic crime details on Tuesday at the opening of a trial of two former Vanderbilt University football players charged with raping a female student at the school in 2013.

 

The woman was raped and sodomized by Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey while unconscious in Vandenburg's dorm room on the morning of June 23, 2013, Deputy District Attorney General Tom Thurman told the jury.

 

Thurman added that Batey urinated on the victim while using racial slurs and the rape was recorded on a cell phone.

 

Defense attorneys countered that the two men, who both pleaded not guilty, should not be convicted because Batey was too drunk to make a conscious decision at the time and that Vandenburg did not do anything. ***

 

Batey's attorney said the football player from Nashville was influenced by a campus culture of sexual freedom, promiscuity and excessive alcohol consumption that contrasted with the manner of his upbringing.***

 

All four men were kicked off the football team and banned from campus after the charges were leveled.

January 15, 2015 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Obama to Give Federal Employees Paid Maternity Leave

USA Today, Obama to Propose Paid Sick Leave for American Workers

WASHINGTON -- President Obama will call on Congress to require companies to give workers up to seven days of paid sick leave a year, a senior adviser said Wednesday.

 

 Obama will also take executive action to give at least six weeks of paid leave to federal employees after the birth or adoption of a child, Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett said.

 

 And Obama wants Congress to spend $2.2 billion to help states and cities develop paid family leave programs.

 

 Jarrett announced the new initiatives in a post on the job networking site LinkedIn -- a venue chosen, she said, because its audience was best positioned to drive change in their own workplaces.

From Jarrett's announcement:

So on Thursday, President Obama will call on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would allow millions of working Americans to earn up to seven days a year of paid sick time — and call on states and cities to pass similar laws. The President will outline a new plan to help states create paid leave programs, and provide new funding through the Department of Labor for feasibility studies that will help other states and municipalities figure out the best way to implement programs of their own. And the President will sign a Presidential Memorandum that will ensure federal employees have access to at least 6 weeks of paid sick leave when a new child arrives and propose that Congress offer 6 weeks of paid administrative leave as well.

January 15, 2015 in Equal Employment, Reproductive Rights, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bill Would Ban Abortions for Gender or Disability

From Indiana:

A state senator's proposal seeks to prohibit abortions if the provider knows the procedure is being sought because of the fetus's gender or due to a genetic mental or physical disability such as Down syndrome.

Senate Bill 334, filed by Markle Republican Travis Holdman, would make it a felony for providers to perform abortions in those instances.

"We support the bill, because we don't believe an unborn child should be discriminated against based on disability or sex," said Mike Fichter, president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life.

January 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

In West Hollywood, Gender Neutral Bathrooms

Gender neutral

From the LA Times: 

A West Hollywood law requiring all single-stall restrooms in businesses and public places to be gender-neutral will go into effect this week.

The law, which will have no impact on multiple-stall restrooms, mandates that any facility designed for use by no more than one person not be restricted to a specific sex or gender identity by signage, design or installation of fixtures.

January 14, 2015 in Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

More from Rock Star Justice Ginsburg

The Atlantic's video interview with Justice Ginsburg is here: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Life Lessons

And ICYMI, What Ruth Bader Ginsburg Taught me About Being a Stay-at-Home Dad

January 13, 2015 in Women lawyers, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Failures of the LSAT and SAT Testocracy

Lani Guiner (Harvard), Ivy League's Meritocracy Lie: How Harvard and Yale Cook the Books for the 1 Percent.  In this excerpt from Guiner's new book, she traces the elitest and anti-Jewish origins of standardize testing in law schools and discredits the alleged merit evalution of SAT and LSAT tests. Taking the "testocracy" to its ultimate result, she concludes we are admiting students based on a false sense of merit and failing to prepare students as future leaders and professionals. 

The top career choices of many male Harvard students—whether it is 2007 or 2013—are severely lacking in any element of service. This is the damage that we are doing through our testocracy. We are credentializing a new elite by legitimizing people with an inflated sense of their own merit and little unwillingness to open up to new ways of problem solving. They exude an arrogance that says there’s only one way to answer a question—because the SAT only gives credit for the one right answer.

January 13, 2015 in Education, Poverty, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pregnancy Discrimination Cases Surprisingly on the Increase

NC Woman Battles for Right to Work While Pregnant

What is happening to Jamie Cole is happening to women all over the country, said Ariela Migdal, an attorney and senior staff member for the ACLU's Women's Rights Project in New York City.

 

Charges filed with the EEOC and Fair Employment Practices Agencies alleging pregnancy discrimination in the workplace increased by nearly 47% from 1997 through 2011, the last year in which states and the federal government reported numbers together.

 

"We are surprised that we're still seeing so much pregnancy discrimination in our nation's workplaces, 37 years after the Pregnancy Discrimination Act," said Christine Saah Nazer, spokeswoman for the EEOC.

January 13, 2015 in Equal Employment, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Stanford male undergrad critiques school sexual assault policy

The Op Ed in the Stanford Daily begins: 

 In October 2013, I was sexually assaulted by a female student on campus.

The story becomes singificantly more complicated thereafter.  

January 12, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

(Malicious) Humor as Free Speech Principle

The recent terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo may not have raised explicit issues of gender (although I couldn't help but think about the subject of male rage and attendant claims of patriarchal authority), but readers might find an article I wrote to be of interest.  It argues that humor--especially a certain variety of barbed humor--should be protected as a principle of antiauthoritarianism:  John Kang, "In Praise of Hostility:  Antiauthoritarianism as Free Speech Principle," 32 Harv. J. L. & Public Policy 351 (2012).  

January 12, 2015 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Conference to Protect Women--Only Men Invited

From the Guardian UK:  

On Wednesday, Iceland will host a conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York City to discuss issues of gender equality such as violence against women, parental rights and female representation in business.

But the conference is different to others of its kind, because women have not been invited.

In the spirit of the “He For She” campaign launched last year by actress Emma Watson with a speech that urged “as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for gender equality”, the UN is calling upon world leaders and business executives, who are overwhelmingly male, to tackle the lack of women in senior political and financial positions around the world.

January 12, 2015 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Get Your Notorious R.B.G. TShirt

After AALS, everyone wants to know where to get your very own Notorious R.B.G. TShirt.

Order it Here.  Though it says only available until Jan. 18

Notorious R.B.G.

January 10, 2015 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gendered Concepts of Creativity in Copyright

Rebecca Tushnet, The Romantic Author and the Romance Writer: Resisting Gendered Concepts of Creativity, in DIVERSITY IN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, (Irene Calboli & Srividhya Ragavan eds., Cambridge Univ. Press, forthcoming 2015).

Abstract: 

Dominant narratives of creativity regularly expect female-associated forms of creativity to be provisioned naturally without need for the economic incentives provided by exclusive rights, just like housework and childcare. Even as the concept of Romantic authorship has come under sustained analytic assault, its challengers often look elsewhere–to the kinds of creativity in which men are more likely to participate–to find models of situated, always-influenced authorship. In this chapter, I examine one variant of the problem, in which certain arguments about copyright discount the value of forms that are predominantly produced and enjoyed by women. But creative works in these oft-denigrated genres, such as media fandom, open up new possibilities in sexual and gender relations, and women learn to see themselves as valuable speakers by becoming creators. As a result, increasing the visibility of women’s creative works, including explicitly transformative works based on specific copyrighted predecessors, is an important part of rejecting the fetishization of Romantic authorship and valuing diverse kinds of creativity.

January 10, 2015 in Business | Permalink | Comments (1)