Friday, December 4, 2015
The Poverty of Privacy Rights, by Khiara M. Bridges, Professor of Law, Boston University
For the past year, I have been writing a book, titled The Poverty of Privacy Rights. The punch line of the book is poor mothers do not have privacy rights.
Most people who have examined poor mothers’ experiences with the state agree that they do not enjoy any privacy in any real sense of the word. The state is all around them. It is in their homes, it is in their decision making processes around whether or not to bear a child, it is monitoring them as they parent their children, it is collecting the most intimate information from them, etc. It is everywhere. In light of the fact that the state is all around poor mothers – and in light of the fact that poor mothers can not keep the state out of their lives in the way that wealthier mothers can – most scholars have argued that poor mothers have privacy rights, but their rights are weak, meaningless, or constantly violated. The book that I am writing seeks to shift the discourse. It disputes that poor mothers have privacy rights that are weak or meaningless or constantly violated. Instead, it argues that poor mothers do not have privacy rights at all.
The book proposes that poor mothers have been “informally disenfranchised” of their privacy rights. The concept of informal disenfranchisement refers to the process by which a group that has been formally bestowed with a right is stripped of that very right by techniques that the Court holds to be consistent with the Constitution. The best precedent for informal disenfranchisement is black people’s experience with voting rights. While the Fifteenth Amendment formally enfranchised black men, white supremacists in the South employed methods—poll taxes, literacy tests, residency requirements, and white primaries—that made it impossible for black men to actually vote in the South for a century after their formal enfranchisement. Moreover, the Court held that each of these techniques of racial exclusion from the polls was constitutional. This is informal disenfranchisement: the status of formally bearing a right, yet being unable to exercise that right because laws that the Court have found to be constitutional make it impossible to do so. As such, my book proposes that poor mothers have been informally disenfranchised of privacy rights.
Now, those who are committed to the belief that everyone enjoys the same rights in the U.S.—even poor mothers—might argue that the government’s interest in protecting poor mothers’ children and children-to-be from abuse and neglect overrides their rights. So, they suggest that the reason why it appears that the government can act as it would act if poor mothers’ privacy rights did not exist at all is because the government interest in protecting children invariably justifies overriding these mothers’ privacy rights.
But, we have to ask: why does the state presume that poor mothers are at risk of abusing or neglecting their children? Now, one might respond: a mother’s poverty yields the possibility that she will be unable to meet the material needs of her child. One might respond: all that the state is doing is ensuring that the indigent woman is able to meet the material needs of her child. But, the Court has authorized states to ask questions that go beyond an inquiry into whether a woman will be able to provide food, clothing, and shelter for her child. The Court has authorized states to enter poor women’s homes just to make sure that they are not lying about their eligibility for public assistance benefits. The Court has authorized states to coerce women to avoid motherhood via family caps on public benefits. The Court has authorized states to coerce women into motherhood via prohibitions on the spending of Medicaid funds on abortion. The state’s surveillance goes beyond ensuring that poor mothers are able to meet the basic needs of their child. Instead, it amounts to a blanket surveillance of poor mothers.
It is worth noting, early and often, that wealthier women engage in the same behaviors in which poor women engage. Wealthier women cohabit with men to whom they are not married. Wealthier women smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol while pregnant. They, too, have histories of sexual and domestic violence. They, too, have unplanned pregnancies. They, too, find themselves pregnant after being in relatively short relationships with the fathers of their babies. Yet, no state has erected an extravagant bureaucratic tool with which it can take an accounting of every non-poor pregnant woman. And the point of my new book is to argue that, if a state did erect this extravagant bureaucratic tool with which it can take an accounting of non-poor pregnant women, it would be struck down as a violation of their privacy rights.
Now, the fact that no state has attempted to erect this bureaucratic tool is telling. It suggests that the state is not really interested in protecting children from abuse and neglect. Instead, it is only interested in protecting some children from abuse and neglect. That is, the state assumes that only some children need to be protected from their mothers. And those children are the ones that are born to poor women. Now, why does the state make this assumption about poor women? It cannot be because poor women engage in problematic behaviors and have problematic histories; wealthier women do, too. It has to be because of something else. My new book argues that that “something else” is poor women’s poverty and the fact that we largely believe that most poverty in this country is a consequence of individual, bad character. We have informally disenfranchised poor mothers of privacy rights because we, as a society, do not trust individuals with bad characters – poor women, presumptively – to competently parent their children.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Call for Participation
Twelfth Annual LatCrit-SALT
Junior Faculty Development Workshop
University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV
October 9, 2014
LatCrit, Inc. and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) are pleased to invite interested participants to the Twelfth Annual Junior Faculty Development Workshop (FDW), immediately preceding the SALT Teaching Conference. This annual workshop is designed for critical, progressive, and social justice oriented pre-tenure professors, including clinicians and legal writing professors, as well as those who may be contemplating a teaching career. However, we also encourage more senior members of the profession to attend, share their experience, and serve as resources and mentors.
The FDW is designed to familiarize critical, progressive, and social justice oriented junior faculty with LatCrit and SALT principles and values and support them in the scholarship, teaching, and service aspects of professional success. In addition, the FDW seeks to foster scholarship in progressive, social justice, and critical outsider jurisprudence, including LatCrit theory, among new and junior faculty, students, and practitioners. Finally, the FDW aims to cultivate a community of scholars interested in the continuation of this and similar projects over the years.
To facilitate community building through shared experiences and the exchange of ideas, we strongly encourage all participants to attend the entire workshop.
If you have questions about the workshop or would like to attend, please email SALTLatCritFDW@gmail.com. Although we will make efforts to accommodate all interested participants, RSVPs are strongly suggested by September 30, 2014. The registration for both events is open on the SALT website: http://www.saltlaw.org/conference_registration/.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
The University of Baltimore School of Law Center on Applied Feminism:
The University of Baltimore School of Law’s Center on Applied Feminism seeks submissions for its Eighth Annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference. This year’s theme is “Applied Feminism and Work.” The conference will be held on March 5 and 6, 2015. For more information about the conference, please visit law.ubalt.edu/caf<http://www.law.ubalt.edu/caf>.
As the nation emerges from the recession, work and economic security are front and center in our national policy debates. Women earn less than men, and the new economic landscape impacts men and women differently. At the same time, women are questioning whether to Lean In or Lean Out, and what it means to “have it all.” The conference will build on these discussions. As always, the Center’s conference will serve as a forum for scholars, practitioners and activists to share ideas about applied feminism, focusing on the intersection of theory and practice to effectuate social change. The conference seeks papers that discuss this year’s theme through the lens of an intersectional approach to feminist legal theory, addressing not only the premise of seeking justice for all people on behalf of their gender but also the interlinked systems of oppression based on race, sexual orientation, gender identity, class, immigration status, disability, and geographical and historical context.
From the Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network LSA planning committee:
Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network at the Law and Society Association Annual Meeting
Seattle, May 28 - 31, 2015
Dear friends and colleagues,
We write to invite you to participate in panels sponsored by the Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network at the Law and Society Annual Meeting in 2015.
Information about the Law and Society meeting (including registration and hotel information) is at: http://www.lawandsociety.org/Seattle2015/seattle2015.html
Within Law & Society, the Feminist Legal Theory CRN seeks to bring together scholars across a range of fields who are interested in feminist legal theory. There is no pre-set theme to which papers must conform. We would be especially happy to see proposals that fit in with the LSA conference theme, which is the role of law and legal institutions in sustaining, creating, interrogating, and ameliorating inequalities. We welcome proposals that would permit us to collaborate with other CRNs, such as the Critical Research on Race and the Law CRN or the Gender, Sexuality and the Law CRN. Also, because the LSA meeting attracts scholars from other disciplines, we welcome multidisciplinary proposals.
Our goal is to stimulate focused discussion of papers on which scholars are currently working. Thus, while proposals may reference work that is well on the way to publication, we are particularly eager to solicit proposals for works-in-progress that are at an earlier stage and will benefit from the discussion that the panels will provide.
Friday, December 13, 2013
On November 7-8, Washington and Lee Law School held a symposium, Roe at 40 - The Controversy Continues. Videos of the symposium panels and two keynote addresses -- one on each side of the issue -- are available here. I delivered the pro-choice keynote, and Michael Paulsen (University of St. Thomas Law School) delivered the pro-life keynote. Professor Paulsen argued that an embryo is a person from fertilization onward, and therefore that abortion is equivalent to murder. During the Q&A following the keynotes, I elaborated on the implications of Paulsen's position, using as illustrations cases from countries in which abortion is banned at all stages of pregnancy. Under these repressive laws, women are imprisoned and women die. El Salvador provides another such window into a world in which abortion is treated as murder. PBS reports on the consequences of El Salvador's abortion ban for women in that country. People who casually refer to abortion as "murder" need to be reminded of these women. Are they prepared to live with -- and to own up to -- these consequences?
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
CALL FOR PAPERS: "APPLIED FEMINISM AND HEALTH"
The University of Baltimore School of Law’s Center on Applied Feminism seeks submissions for its Seventh Annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference. This year’s theme is “Applied Feminism and Health.” The conference will be held on March 6 and 7, 2014. For more information about the conference, please visit law.ubalt.edu/caf.
With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) and renewed attacks on reproductive health in the United States, the time is right to consider the relationship between feminism and health across multiple dimensions. This conference seeks to explore the intersections between feminist legal theory and physical, mental, public, and community health in the United States and abroad. Papers might explore the following questions: What impact has feminist legal theory had on women’s health policy and practice? How might feminist legal theory respond to the health challenges facing communities and individuals, as well as increase access to health care? What sort of support should society and law provide to ensure good health? How do law and feminist legal theory conceptualize the role of the state in relation to health rights and reproductive justice? What are the links between health, feminist legal theory, and sports? Are there rights to good health and what are their foundations? How do health needs and conceptions of rights vary across cultural, economic, religious, and other identities? What are the areas where health justice is needed and how might feminist legal theory help?
This conference will attempt to address these and other questions from the perspectives of activists, practitioners, and academics. The conference will provide an opportunity for participants and audience members to exchange ideas about the current state of feminist legal theories. We hope to deepen our understandings of how feminist legal theory relates to health and to move new insights into practice. In addition, the conference is designed to provide presenters with the opportunity to gain feedback on their papers.
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Monday, May 6, 2013
Lavender Law 2013, San Francisco, CA - August 22-24 - Invitation and Call for Papers:
Junior Scholars Forum
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
This year the Lavender Law® Conference & Career Fair will be held August 22-24, 2013 at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco, CA. Lavender Law brings together the best and brightest legal minds in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
To celebrate our community of scholars, Lavender Law® is hosting a Junior Scholars Forum again this year. If you are a junior law professor (teaching 6 years or fewer), or a recent law school graduate or fellow who is writing scholarship focusing on the nexus between the law, gender, and sexuality, we encourage you to submit a proposal for consideration. Proposals can be in the form of a full draft or in the form of an expanded abstract (approximately 1-2 pages in length).
If your proposal is accepted, you will be invited to present your work at the 2013 Lavender Law conference.
The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2013.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Charlotte Observer: Legacy of N.C. sterilization scrutinized, by Ann Doss Helms:
As N.C. lawmakers revive the question of victim compensation, students and professors gathered at Wake Forest University on Thursday for a two-day conference on the impact of the state’s eugenic sterilization program.
From 1929 to 1974, long after most states abandoned similar efforts, the Eugenics Board of North Carolina authorized sterilization of roughly 7,600 women, men and children who were deemed unfit for parenthood. Mental illness, epilepsy and “feeble-mindedness” – often gauged by low scores on now-discredited IQ tests – were grounds for sterilization, with or without the patient’s consent. . . .
Monday, February 25, 2013
Rutgers School of Law - Camden: Beyond Roe Conference: Call for Papers:
Throughout 2013, five law schools in the Delaware Valley will hold events exploring various aspects of reproductive justice in the 40 years post-Roe v. Wade. The final event in this series is a conference sponsored by the Rutgers School of Law – Camden that will take place on Friday, October 11 on the Rutgers campus in Camden, New Jersey.* You can fine more information about the conference here.
We are now pleased to invite proposals for papers and panels. The conference theme is Beyond Roe: Reproductive Justice in a Changing World. We welcome submissions on any topic related to the law, policy and reproduction, including avoiding reproduction, public policy related to reproduction, and reproductive regulation post-Roe.
Paper abstracts should be no more than 500 words, accompanied by a descriptive title for the paper proposed. Proposed panels should include a description of the overall topic, as well as a panel title and the titles of all the papers and panelists to be included in the panel. Panels should include no less than 4 proposed panelists. Panel proposals should also be no more than 500 words. All submissions must include the names, e-mail addresses, and full affiliations of all authors. In the case of panels and co-authored papers, please identify a corresponding author and provide sufficient detail in your abstract or proposal so that reviewers can fully assess your proposal and determine how it will fit with other proposals being reviewed.
There will be two plenary sessions at the conference and some submitted papers might be selected for plenary presentations. If you wish for us to consider your paper for a plenary session, please indicate that desire on your submission.
Please e-mail submissions (in .doc, .docx, or .pdf format) to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 1, 2013. If you have any questions about the conference, please direct them to Kimberly Mutcherson at email@example.com.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Join the University of Baltimore School of Law, the University of Baltimore Law Review, and the Center on Applied Feminism for the sixth annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference. There is no charge to attend, but pre-registration is requested as seating is limited.
RSVP here if you are interested in attending the full-day conference on Friday, March 8, 2013. Registrants for the full-day conference will be automatically registered for the keynote presentation.
There is also a workshop session the afternoon of March 7, 2013, which you can register for here. For additional details about the conference, including accommodations and parking information, please visit our website.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Call for Symposium Papers
Gender Matters: Women, Social Policy and the 2012 Election
April 2, 2013 at American University Washington College of Law, Washington, DC
The American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law and Women and the Law Program invite papers for a symposium on gender, social policy and the election of 2012. The organizers welcome papers that explore how current or proposed social polices affect the lives of women and their families, and/or that analyze what role, if any, rhetoric about those polices may have played in the recent election. Abstracts from professors or practitioners (sorry, no student pieces) addressing gender and health care, labor and employment, taxation, fiscal policy and social welfare or other relevant social policy are due by midnight January 7, 2013. Papers selected will be presented at a symposium on April 2, 2013 at American University Washington College of Law, and strongly considered for publication. To read the full Call for Papers and to submit an abstract online, please visit the symposium website. Please contact the organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Keynote Speakers: Kathryn Abrams, UC Berkeley Law School & Katherine Franke, Columbia School of Law
For more information, please contact Stefanie Carroll at email@example.com or 303.871.6076. Registration information coming in December.
* “Have fun. Raise hell. Question everything. Celebrate difference.” – Ann Scales
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Michigan State Law Review and Symposium (April 11-12, 2013) – Call for Papers: “In Search of Equality in Family Law”:
The Michigan State Law Review along with Professors Melanie B. Jacobs and Cynthia Lee Starnes, invite participants for our upcoming symposium, "In Search of Equality in Family Law" to be held April 11-12, 2013. The list of confirmed presenters include keynote speaker, Dean David Meyer, and Professors Susan Appleton, Naomi Cahn, June Carbone, James Dwyer, Theresa Glennon, Leslie Harris, Courtney Joslin, Alicia Kelly, Linda McClain, Raymond O'Brien, Ruthann Robson, Barbara Stark, Richard Storrow, and Lynn Wardle.
The theme of the symposium is the continuing struggle to reform family law to ensure equality. The focus is on relationships within families, on access to the family structure, and on family members’ status in society at large. The topic of equality in family law is also particularly timely: family is at the heart of social debate and the focus on family is magnified as we approach an election year. Daily, news stories highlight issues of equality that arise in many areas of the family -- adult partnerships, including same-sex marriage; parenting responsibilities; divorce and its economics; paternity; the definition of family; same-sex adoptions; and full faith and credit recognition for out-of-state same-sex marriages. A central theme will be the sameness/difference debate in feminism over how equality is best attained: by treating men and women exactly the same, or by recognizing differences in power and circumstance so that different treatment is required to ensure equality. This topic will appeal to family law scholars working on a variety of projects.
In addition to the rich discussion at the Symposium, this dialogue will result in the publication of participant articles in an issue of the Michigan State Law Review. The Law Review is an acclaimed scholarly journal that publishes five issues yearly. Each participant is invited to offer an academic article for publication in the Law Review. Tentatively, final draft papers are due Friday, June 7, 2013.
The goal is to be inclusive and to engage scholars focusing on various reform issues in a conversation about the equality implications of their work. Interested individuals should send a one-page proposal to Professor Melanie Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org by October 31st.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Cheryl Hanna (Vermont Law School) has posted Gender as a Core Value in Teaching Constitutional Law on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This essay was part of a symposium sponsored by the AALS Section on Women, entitled Gender as a Core Teaching Value. In this piece, Professor Hanna discusses the importance of highlighting gender in Constitutional Law courses, not just on 'equal protection day" but throughout the curriculum. To that end, she provides concrete ideas and examples about how to help students discuss issues of gender in a variety of cases and contexts.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
The Huffington Post blog: Women Leaving Rio+20 Motivated to Galvanize Sustainability Around Family Planning and Reproductive Rights, by Diane MacEachern:
There is a direct correlation between access to voluntary family planning, women's empowerment and environmental sustainability. And though the official delegates to last week's "Earth Summit" tried to water it down, thousands of grassroots activists made it one of the biggest issues to rock Rio+20, as the event was also called.
Why? Because ensuring that women have full reproductive rights creates one of the most desirable "two-fers" on the planet. Complete access to voluntary family planning is among the quickest, simplest, and most affordable ways to improve women's quality of life. It is also one of the most direct, immediate and cost-effective ways to reduce climate change. In fact, studies show that slowing population growth by giving women access to the contraception they already want could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by between 8 and 15 percent -- roughly equivalent to ending all tropical deforestation. . . .
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Journal of Law and Health’s Annual Symposium: The Legal and Ethical Implications of Posthumous Reproduction:
The symposium is tentatively scheduled for March 2013.
In Astrue v. Capato, the Supreme Court held that children conceived through in vitro fertilization after the death of a parent were not automatically entitled to survivor benefits under the Social Security law. The Court stated that the children’s eligibility to receive the benefits depended upon their ability to inheritance under the state’s intestacy system.
Areas of interest for this special journal issue include, but are not limited to, the following topics:
- What steps are necessary to protect the financial interests of posthumously conceived children?
- What regulations are needed to protect the reproductive rights of the dead gamete provider?
- What steps are necessary to address the legal, moral and ethical consequences of posthumous reproduction?
- What impact, if any, will the United States Supreme Court decision in Astrue v. Capato have on posthumous reproduction?
- Do the dead have a fundamental right to procreate?
- Should posthumously conceived children be treated like heirs under the intestacy system?
- Whether health insurance should cover the expense of posthumous reproduction?
Those interested in submitting an article must submit a 600-word abstract describing selected topic and submit curriculum vitae by October 1, 2012. Email abstract and CV to Journal of Law and Health at email@example.com. Include “Submission: Annual Symposium” in the subject line.
Monday, February 13, 2012
ABA Journal: Justice Ginsburg: Roe v. Wade Decision Came Too Soon, by Debra Cassens Weiss:
Speaking at a Columbia Law School symposium on Friday, Ginsburg said the court could have delayed hearing the case while state law evolved on the issue, the Associated Press reports. "It's not that the judgment was wrong, but it moved too far too fast,” she said. . . .
The full AP story is here.
I attended this symposium and was also struck by Justice Ginsburg's story about a case that she felt would have been the better case to bring first, one in which a woman in the military faced discharge because she chose to carry her pregnancy to term. Justice Ginsburg said she thought this would have been a wiser first step, because the woman's choice was for childbirth. Here's a story on Justice Ginsburg's discussion of that case: Salon: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s alternative abortion history, by Irin Carmon.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
May 4 & 5, 2012, Toronto, Canada
This conference will bring together leading scholars, policy-makers, practicing lawyers and health care professionals to explore how law can address global health challenges and make real progressive change. . . .
Monday, October 31, 2011
Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network: Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, June 5-8, 2011: Invitation and Call for Papers:
Dear friends and colleagues,
As many of you know, the Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network (CRN) is a newly-constituted group that seeks to bring together scholars across a range of fields who are interested in feminist legal theory. At our inaugural get-together at the Law and Society Association (LSA) meeting this past June, we decided to organize two events for the coming year. The first will be in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the AALS annual meeting in January 2012. We are writing to give you details about the second, which will take place in Honolulu, Hawaii, in conjunction with the LSA annual meeting, June 5-8, 2012.