Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Rise of the Old Girls Club

Wall St. J., Two Women Join the Growing Club of Female Law Firm Leaders

It’s been a bit of slow slog for women in the upper echelons of BigLaw, where leadership roles are still largely dominated by men.

But October brings notable firsts at two well-known law firms, as women take the reins for the first time in each firm’s history. They join a small but growing group of women leaders that includes Kim Koopersmith of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Jerry K. Clements at Locke Lord LLP.

 

On Wednesday litigator Jami Wintz McKeon officially became the new chair at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, where she has held a number of management roles over the past three decades. Ms. McKeon succeeds Francis M. Milone, who held that role since 1999 and guided the firm through a period of significant expansion. ***

 

It’s also a big day at Bryan Cave LLP, where white-collar litigator Therese Pritchard became the firm’s first female chair—and its first leader based outside the firm’s historic home turf of St. Louis. She succeeds Don Lents, who was first elected chair in 2004.

October 4, 2014 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

On Hobby Lobby, Justice Ginsburg was Right

Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker, On Hobby Lobby, Justice Ginsburg was Right

In Hobby Lobby, a narrow five-to-four majority of the Court held that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 gave the proprietors of a chain of retail craft stores the right to exempt themselves from certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, the A.C.A. requires firms with more than fifty employees to provide insurance that includes birth-control coverage, or else pay a fine. There was an exemption already for religious institutions. Hobby Lobby, a closely held corporation, is a secular, for-profit business, but the Court held that because the owners of Hobby Lobby held a sincere religious belief that certain forms of birth control caused abortions, they could deny employer-paid insurance coverage for them. Justice Samuel Alito insisted, in his opinion for the Court, that his decision would be very limited in its effect. Responding to the dissenting opinion by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who called it “a decision of startling breadth,” Alito wrote, “Our holding is very specific. We do not hold, as the principal dissent alleges, that for-profit corporations and other commercial enterprises can ‘opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.’ ” Ginsburg, though, wondered where the guidance was for the lower courts when faced with similar claims from employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations (Christian Scientists, among others).

 

The exchange between the two Justices gets to the heart of the issue in Hobby Lobby. When do religious convictions allow individuals (or corporations) to excuse themselves from obligations that are binding on everyone else?

 

A sampling of court actions since Hobby Lobby suggests that Ginsburg has the better of the argument. She was right: the decision is opening the door for the religiously observant to claim privileges that are not available to anyone else.

October 4, 2014 in Religion, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 3, 2014

"Women Abuse Men, Too—But It’s Often Not Called Abuse"

Thus reads an interesting blog post from the Good Men Project.  An excerpt: 

Last night I was searching the Internet for a video on “women abusing men” to run here on The Good Men Project. Not only were there just a few actual hits, most of which I’d already seen, but I also found that most of the results that did come up were for men abusing women. Even though I typed “men” first, Google found more results for the reversed phrase, indicating the huge imbalance of available online material. And yet, recent statistics confirm that men represent approximately 40% of the victims in cases of abuse. 

October 3, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Susan Ayres on Dramatic Narratives

Susan Ayres, Texas A & M Law, has uploaded to SSRN "Using Dramatic Narratives to Teach Domestic Violence."  The abstract reads: 

The 2003 call of the ABA for teachers to incorporate domestic violence into the law school curricula remains gravely important today. Domestic violence intersects many areas — from family law, to torts, to criminal law. Along with sexual assault, it is one of the most difficult subjects to teach. Students, like the general public, find it hard to comprehend why a person batters, or why a victim stays with the batterer. While students may learn about domestic violence from case law and scholarly excerpts, the best lessons may be learned through narratives, which provide a window into the reasons for battering and the multi-faceted reasons a victim stays with a batterer. In this article, I describe a teaching approach that incorporates narratives by the award-winning, multi-racial writer, Ai (1947-2010). This valuable approach offers a picture of domestic violence that is more compelling than that of casebooks or statistics, and provides students — as future lawyers — with the ability to respond to clients experiencing domestic violence with greater empathy and understanding.

October 3, 2014 in Scholarship, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Caps on Title VII Damages Codify Sex Discrimination

 Lynn Zehrt (Belmont) has posted Twenty Years of Compromise: How the Caps on Damages in the Civil Rights Act of 1991 Codified Sex Discrimination, 25 Yale J. L. & Feminism249 (2014).

This article takes a novel approach and reexamines the legislative history surrounding the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 with a central focus on exploring the issue of capped damages. Part I begins by briefly contrasting and summarizing the diverging remedies available under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Title VII. The article then shifts in Part II to an examination of the political climate and legislative history that forged the enactment of the 1991 Act, paying particular attention to the debate surrounding damages. This history reveals that many members of Congress had a discriminatory motive in capping damages for victims of sex discrimination under Title VII, and therefore, that these capped damages represent a codified version of injustice. Although prior scholarship documents the legislative history of the 1991 Civil Rights Act, it fails to adequately address the issue of capped damages. Thus, this legislative history is a substantial contribution to contemporary Title VII scholarship, as it provides necessary context for the current debate about whether to abolish the existing Title VII damage regime.

October 2, 2014 in Equal Employment, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student Embraces "I am a feminist"

The Daily Collegian (Penn State), Decoding the Mystique of Feminism

I’m a feminist.

                                                                                

No, I don’t hate men or go around burning my bras.

                                                       

I like both of those. Plus – let’s be honest – bra burning is far too expensive.

 

My belief in the ideals of feminism is not new. My adoption of the term, however, is.

 

I have always believed that women (and all people) should have equal rights; I have always believed – passionately – that as a woman, I am entitled to the same rights and opportunities as my male friends.

 

And that’s exactly what feminism is. Nothing more.

 

To clarify, according to “The Oxford English Dictionary,” feminism is the “advocacy of equality of the sexes and the establishment of the political, social, and economic rights of the female sex.”

 

But until I came to Penn State, I hesitated to use the term “feminist” as an adjective to describe myself.

    

October 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Professors. Tweet, blog and link. Just Do It.

On the role and obligation of law faculty on social media, see The Professor as Node

I've come to the opinion that Tweeting, "LinkedIn-ing", and blogging -- along with other forms of online networking -- are exactly what our students are paying us to do.

October 2, 2014 in Law schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Could Denmark Serve as a Leader on Transgender Law?

From the Guardian UK: 

In one leap, Denmark has changed its law on trans rights, taking it from a country where transgender people were forced to undergo sterilisation in order to be legally recognised as a different gender, to one of the most progressive countries on the issue in the world.

Unlike in most of the countries that allow new gender recognition, trans people in Denmark now do not even need a medical expert statement, but can simply self-determine. There are still restrictions – the minimum age is 18, and there is a six-month waiting period before the person has to reconfirm their wish to have their gender legally changed – but the law seems to be moving in the right direction.

But: 

But Denmark's new law – which came into force on Monday – raises questions for the other European countries where forced sterilisation – either as a result of hormone treatment or surgery – is still the only route for someone transitioning to gain legal status. This requirement ignores the fact that many trans people don't want to undergo a major operation, or to irretrievably lose their fertility as a result of it, as part of their transition.

October 1, 2014 in International, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Federalism and Gay Marriage

From the Jurist: 

Advocates and opponents of same-sex marriage are breathlessly waiting for news from the Supreme Court that a marriage equality case will be heard this term. The expectation of an imminent nationwide ruling comes after scores of lower courts have declared bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, relying heavily on the Supreme Court's reasoning in its landmark 2013 decision, United States v. Windsor. To date only one federal ruling has broken the consensus: the September 2014 decision by Judge Martin Feldman upholding Louisiana's ban.

More: 

At this juncture, it is worth asking why Windsor, which declared a section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, has made the legal landscape so lopsided toward marriage equality. Appreciating the answer requires us to put to rest the idea that Windsor is actually a federalism decision supporting a state's right to define marriage however it wishes. As I will argue, the near unanimity among recent lower court decisions is not a product of judicial activists licking their chops at the opportunity to impose their political ideology on the nation, but rather a logical consequence of Windsor itself.

October 1, 2014 in LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

First Yes Means Yes Law

California Yes Means Yes Law, Defining Sexual Consent

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law that makes California the first in the nation to have a clear definition of when people agree to sex. The law goes further than the common "no means no" standard, which has been blamed for bringing ambiguity into investigations of sexual assault cases.

 

The new law seeks both to improve how universities handle rape and sexual assault accusations and to clarify the standards, requiring an "affirmative consent" and stating that consent can't be given if someone is asleep or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.

 

"Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent," the law states, "nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time."

September 30, 2014 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

EEOC's First Ever Transgender Discrimination Suits

The EEOC Makes History by Filing Its First Ever Transgender Discrimination Lawsuits

Yesterday, the EEOC initiated litigation against two separate employers: two lawsuits alleging sex discrimination "in violation of federal law by firing an employee because she is transgender, because she was transitioning from male to female, and/or because she did not conform to the employer's gender-based expectations, preferences, or stereotypes."

 

In one lawsuit, the EEOC claims that a funeral home fired an employee who had been with the company for several years, but two weeks after she wrote a letter to the company explaining that she was "undergoing a gender transition from male to female, and would soon start to present (e.g., dress) in appropriate business attire at work, consistent with her gender identity as a woman." 

 

In the other lawsuit, the EEOC alleges that the employee was fired only after she began to present as a woman and informed her employer that she was transgender.

September 30, 2014 in Equal Employment, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Men: It's On Us

The White House rolled out a new sexual assault prevention campaign engaging men as part of the solution: It's On Us

What College Men Think of the New Rape Prevention Campaign That's Targeting Them.  According to this report, they're ok with it.

Penn State students spreading the word about sexual assault prevention

September 30, 2014 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ciocchetti on Hobby Lobby

Corey Ciocchetti, Denver (Business School), has uploaded to SSRN "Religious Freedom and Closely Held Corporations: The Hobby Lobby Case and Its Ethical Implications."  The abstract reads: 

Hobby Lobby and its quest for religious freedom captured the attention of a nation for a few moments in late June 2014. The country homed in on the Supreme Court as the justices weighed the rights of an incorporated, profit-making entity run by devout individuals that objected to particular entitlements granted to women under the Affordable Care Act. The case raised important legal issues such as whether the law allows for-profit corporations to exercise religion (yes!) and whether protection for religious freedom trumps the rights of third parties to cost free preventive care (sort of!). The Supreme Court’s decision also brought to light some major ethical dilemmas such as: (1) whether the government has the right to second-guess a person’s religious beliefs, (2) when do religious beliefs become too attenuated from the actions they oppose to truly pose a burden on religion and (3) whether religion can only be experienced by human beings. Though the lawyers will move on to the next legal challenge, Americans in general must continue to grapple with these ethical dilemmas as citizens of a society needing to find the appropriate balance between religious freedom and improving public heath.

This article attempts to answer some of these questions by evaluating the Hobby Lobby case from many different angles. Part II recounts the stories underlying the legal challenge. These stories, often-neglected in law review articles and judicial opinions, when told in depth add context and nuance to the case and help bring to life topics that seem boring if analyzed purely in legalese. For example, the Greens tell a story of a family who consider their work at Hobby Lobby to fulfill their calling from God. They sincerely believe they are expected to practice their religion at work even if it costs the corporation, and themselves personally, a great deal of money. The federal government tells the story of a nation in desperate need of better and less expensive health care options -- particularly for women. The government claims that women need cost-free preventive care (and particularly cost-free contraceptives) in order to improve their health and reduce unwanted pregnancies. Better access to contraceptives will also give women more power to control their reproductive lives and compete more effectively in the workplace. Part II brings these litigants to life and sets the stage for a discussion of the law in Part III and the application of the law to these parties in Part IV.

More specifically, Part III synthesizes the state of the law surrounding religious freedom and preventive health care at the time the Hobby Lobby case hit the Supreme Court. The article recounts the history of religious freedom in America and how this concept worked its way into the first words of the First Amendment and eventually into the very broadly protective Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This part ends with an evaluation of the ACA’s contraceptive mandate and its requirements regarding access to cost free preventive care for women.

Part IV evaluates the court decisions in the Hobby Lobby case. The discussion begins with the District Court’s denial of Hobby Lobby’s request that mandate be stayed and ends with the Supreme Court’s decision issued on the last day of its October 2013 term. All in all, the discussion moves with the case from a federal district court (where Hobby Lobby asked for a preliminary injunction) to the Tenth Circuit Court of appeals (where that decision was affirmed) to the United States Supreme Court (where Hobby Lobby’s appeal was summarily denied) back to the Circuit Court sitting en banc (where the district court was urged to issue the preliminary injunction) back to the district court (where the judge reversed himself and issued the injunction) and finally to the Supreme Court (where Hobby Lobby emerged victorious). This part summarizes the lower court decisions and evaluates the Supreme Court decision in detail, section by section.

Part V, the final substantive part of the article, begins with the statement that the Court reached the correct legal decision in the case considering: (1) the important place religious exercise holds in the fabric of America, today and historically, (2) the broad brush with which Congress painted RFRA and (3) the fact that Hobby Lobby’s employees will still receive all twenty FDA-approved contraceptives at no cost. The discussion then moves to the ethical issues spun off by the Supreme Court decision. The three ethical dilemmas chosen for analysis revolve around the questions of whether corporations can exercise religion, whether it is ethical for religion to trump third party rights and whether governments have any business analyzing the beliefs of a religious adherent in order to better craft public policy.

The article concludes with a call for further research into potential answers to these and other ethical dilemmas keeping in mind that Hobby Lobby is just the first shoe to drop in the fight between religious freedom and parts of the Affordable Care Act.

September 29, 2014 in Healthcare, Religion, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Rise of the Bro Hug

We all know this.  These days, men often hug other men; even guys who aren't really friends will do this.  The Bro Hug, it has come to be known.  It has, arguably, overtaken handshakes.  

Commentary from the NYT: 

[One theory for the B.H.] comes from Mark McCormack, a British sociologist, who has suggested that our increased hugginess is attributable to declining homophobia. In March, Dr. McCormack and his colleague Eric Anderson published in the journal Men and Masculinities a study of 40 college-age male heterosexual British athletes. Ninety-three percent of the young men said that, more than mere hugging, they had spooned or cuddled with a male friend.

One of the study’s participants said of his male friend, Connor: “I happily rest my head on Connor’s shoulder when lying on the couch or hold him in bed. We have a bromance where we are very comfortable around each other.”

That the decreased stigma about being gay may inspire people to be more physically affectionate — particularly heterosexual male athletes, a demographic not known for being cuddlesome — is a lovely thing. As are wanted hugs. But the ripple effect of this new liberation may sometimes prove unmooring.

I suspect there is something deeply regional and class-based about the Bro Hug.....

September 28, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fraternities Go Coed

Integrating fraternities will reduce campus sexual assault?

Slate, Accept Women--Or Else

All on-campus fraternities at Wesleyan University must soon become coeducational or they will be shut down, the university announced Monday, giving its small but often under-fire Greek system a three-year deadline to open its doors to female students.

***

 “The culture of these houses contributes to the culture of sexual assault in a way we weren’t willing to stand for anymore,” Updegrove said in May. In a blog post in April, Roth wrote that it’s "clear that many students see fraternity houses as spaces where women enter with a different status than in any other building on campus, sometimes with terrible consequences."

September 27, 2014 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

DrinkLock Invention to Prevent Date Rape

We previously posted about the nail polish that can warn of date rape drugs.

Now we have DC Bartenders Create DrinkLock to Prevent Date Rape

    

Two bartenders in Washington, D.C., have teamed up to create the prototype for a product meant to combat date rape called the “DrinkLock.”

 

DrinkLock is described as a “reverse coaster,” which can be used as an actual coaster or affixed to the top of someone’s drink using a square adhesive seal. When the seal is removed, it will read “void” if anyone has tampered with it.

 

September 27, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Economic Case for Maternity and Paternity Leave

The Atlantic, The Economic Case for Paternity Leave

All over the globe, paid maternity leave policies have proven vital in boosting the likelihood that a new mother will return to work, and will put in more hours after she returns. Along with tax reform, these policies powered the surge in Europe’s female labor-force participation in the 1980s and ’90s. The U.S., however, stagnated. Whereas in 1990 the U.S. had the sixth-highest rate of female labor participation in the OECD in 1990, within two decades it had plunged to 17th place. The U.S.’s lack of paid parental leave and flexible work policies were responsible for nearly three-tenths of that drop, according to an oft-cited study by Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn of Cornell University.

 

But on its own, paid maternity leave works only up to a point. Even in euro-zone countries and others that have boosted the share of women in the workforce by offering lavish maternity leave and cheap childcare, the gap between male and female labor participation still yawns.

 

For the vast majority of women who don’t return to work after giving birth, this is because the costs of returning—both financial and psychological—outweigh the benefits.

September 27, 2014 in Family, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Marriage in Islam

Shagufta Omar, International Islamic University, has uploaded to SSRN Marriage in Islam.  The abstract reads: 

The institution of family occupies a highly important position in Islam. Besides regulating human marital relations it plays a key role in the development and progression of a well-entrenched social order. It considers this relationship a sacrament social contract between two independent and pubescent persons and introduces checks and balances to protect and secure the rights of all stakeholders in this matter - husband, wife, children and the society large. Unlike certain other religions, Islam however does not regard marriage above dissolution and gives this right to both the spouses. According men and women equal social, legal and moral status as human beings, Islam differentiates between their status, roles and responsibilities in the family system, based on equity and justice. However, the true spirit of role differentiation is misunderstood by non Muslims as well as by less informed Muslims as establishing the patriarchal system endorsing gender equality and discrimination against women.

September 25, 2014 in International, Religion, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Misogyny at Fox News

From the Guardian UK

Presenters on US cable channel Fox News cracked a series of sexist jokes after reporting that a female pilot from the UAE had taken part in a bombing mission of Isis targets in Syria, describing her as “boobs on the ground”.

One presenter, Kimberly Guilfoyle, tried to pay tribute to Major Mariam al-Mansouri, 35, one of four UAE fighter pilots to take part in the operation. “Hey, Isis, you were bombed by a woman,” she said. “Very exciting, a woman doing this … I hope that hurt extra bad because in some Arab countries women can’t even drive.”

She continued: “Major Mariam al-Mansouri is who did this. Remarkable, very excited. I wish it was an American pilot. I’ll take a woman doing this any day to them.”

But: 

But after the segment, co-host Greg Gutfeld interrupted Guilfoyle, mocking the pilot. “The problem is after she bombed it she couldn’t park it,” he said. Another presenter, Eric Bolling, joined in, asking: “Would that be considered boobs on the ground or no?” The conversation between panellists, which was broadcast on Wednesday, was part of discussion show The Five on Fox News.

September 25, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities, Theory, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ginsburg Will Not Go Gently into that Good Night

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Why I Can't Resign Now

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is pushing back against suggestions that she should soon retire, saying President Barack Obama would be unable to get a justice like her through the Senate.

 

“Who do you think President Obama could appoint at this very day, given the boundaries that we have?” the 81-year-old justice told Elle Magazine in an interview excerpt released Tuesday. The wide-ranging interview portrays Ginsburg — seen as a member of the court’s liberal wing — as attuned to the dynamics in Congress and some of the greater political and social discussions in the U.S.

 

In the interview, she suggested that Senate Republicans would likely block any potential nominee like her.

 

“If I resign any time this year, he could not successfully appoint anyone I would like to see in the court,” the oldest member of the high court said. “[A]nybody who thinks that if I step down, Obama could appoint someone like me, they’re misguided,” later adding that she can “do the job full steam.”

 

September 25, 2014 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)