Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

SCOTUS Holds that Employer's Religious Liberty Trumps Women's Right to Healthcare and Birth Control

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania (July 8, 2020), in a split opinion, with the majority written by Justice Thomas.  Justices Kagan and Breyer concurred in the judgment.

Justice Ginsburg strongly dissented,. recognizing the threat to not just women's healthcare, but women's equality.

In accommodating claims of religious freedom, this Court has taken a balanced approach, one that does not allow the religious beliefs of some to overwhelm the rights and interests of others who do not share those beliefs. Today, for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree. *** Destructive of the Women’s Health Amendment, this Court leaves women workers to fend for themselves, to seek contraceptive coverage from sources other than their employer’s insurer, and, absent another available source of funding, to pay for contraceptive services out of their own pockets. The Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause, all agree, does not call for that imbalanced result. Nor does the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U. S. C. §2000bb et seq., condone harm to third parties occasioned by entire disregard of their needs. I therefore dissent from the Court’s judgment, under which, as the Government estimates, between 70,500 and 126,400 women would immediately lose access to no-cost contraceptive services. 

July 8, 2020 in Healthcare, Religion, Reproductive Rights, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gender Diversity and Diversity Fatigue: Shifting the Focus to Corporations and Systemic Solutions

Douglas Branson, Gender Diversity, Diversity Fatigue, and Shifting the Focus, 87 Geo. Wash. U. L. Rev. 1061 (2019)

The women’s movement has been with us for approximately 50 years. Women are airline pilots, police officers, engineers, fire fighters, physicians, and veterinarians. By contrast, the progress to corporate senior executive positions has been paltry, in fits and starts, at best in baby steps. Ascendant males would tell you that women have made no business case for increasing the number of female executives. In response, this Article contends that the focus, exclusively upon women themselves, is all wrong. The focus should be on corporations themselves, the employers, and not exclusively on aspiring women. Beyond lip service, corporations have done little, throwing a few dollars at STEM programs that may lead to a first or second position, but not to leadership roles. Information technology empirical studies show that of the measly 4.8% of executive positions women hold, only two are held by women with STEM degrees. All of the remaining 25 female executives have law or business degrees with MBAs predominating. The tech industry attempts to crowd out women completely, by hiring males from foreign countries who enter the United States with H1-B visas that allow them to stay for six years and often permanently. It is high time for corporations themselves to undertake concrete steps of the nature with which this Article concludes.

See also Douglas Branson, The Future of Tech is Female (2018)

The Future of Tech is Female considers the paradoxes involved in women’s ascent to leadership roles, suggesting industry-wide solutions to combat gender inequality. Drawing upon 15 years of experience in the field, Douglas M. Branson traces the history of women in the information technology industry in order to identify solutions for the issues facing women today. Branson explores a variety of solutions such as mandatory quota laws for female employment, pledge programs, and limitations on the H1-B VISA program, and grapples with the challenges facing women in IT from a range of perspectives.

Branson unpacks the plethora of reasons women should hold leadership roles, both in and out of this industry, concluding with a call to reform attitudes toward women in one particular IT branch, the video and computer gaming field, a gateway to many STEM futures. An invaluable resource for anyone invested in gender equality in corporate governance, The Future of Tech is Female lays out the first steps toward a more diverse future for women in tech leadership

July 8, 2020 in Books, Business, Technology, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

MeToo - What Next?

Deborah Rhode, #MeToo: Why Now? What Next?, Duke L. J. (2019)

This Essay explores the evolution, implications, and potential of #MeToo. It begins by reviewing the inadequacies of sexual harassment law and policies that have permitted continuing abuse and that prompted the outrage that erupted in 2017. Discussion then turns to the origins of the #MeToo movement and assesses the changes that it has propelled. Analysis centers on which changes are likely to last and the concerns of fairness and inclusion that they raise. A final section considers strategies for sustaining the positive momentum of the movement and directing its efforts toward fundamental reform.

July 7, 2020 in Equal Employment, Pop Culture, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

June Medical Returns SCOTUS Precedent to Less Demanding Standard of Casey

Caroline Mala Corbin, June Medical is the New Casey

The atmosphere awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey felt similar to the one awaiting today’s decision in June Medical Services v. Russo.  At stake was whether the U.S. Constitution would continue to protect a woman’s right to abortion. Casey reaffirmed that right but lowered the level of protection. June Medical does the same. In fact, Casey is likely to be the controlling Supreme Court precedent on abortion once again.

 

To understand what this means, let me provide a brief background on abortion and the Supreme Court.  As most people realize, the Supreme Court declared that the right to abortion was a fundamental right in Roe v. WadeRoe also required strict scrutiny of any abortion regulation, where regulations of first trimester abortion (when the vast majority of abortions occur) were presumptively unconstitutional.

 

What many do not realize is that the Supreme Court subsequently dialed back the level of protection in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that abortion was still a constitutional right. However, the Court replaced the strict scrutiny test with the undue burden test, making abortion much easier to regulate.  According to the Casey Court, as long as a law did not impose an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion, it was fine.  An undue burden occurs when the state places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman hoping to end her pregnancy. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court in Casey and subsequent cases made clear their view that very few regulations impose an undue burden. Waiting periods? No undue burden.  Outlawing a safer procedure? No undue burden.  Under the Casey regime, states were able to severely restrict access to abortion by passing laws ostensibly to protect women’s health, but in reality undermined it by making abortion more expensive, time-consuming, and difficult to obtain due to clinic closures.

 

Quite unexpectedly, in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016), the Supreme Court strengthened the undue burden test, providing heightened protection for abortion rights. The analysis of whether a law imposed an undue burden now had two questions instead of one. As before, courts must consider whether a law created a substantial obstacle in the path of a women seeking an abortion.  But in addition, the Court would consider the actual benefit of the law. If the stated goal was to improve women’s health, states must provide evidence to that effect. This is critical because, as mentioned above, states regularly passed laws which they claimed were to make abortion safer for women but were really designed to just make it harder.***

 

However, also similar to CaseyJune Medical signals less protection for abortion rights going forward. Although Justice Breyer’s plurality opinion relied on the highly protective undue burden test as formulated by the Whole Woman’s Health majority, which requires examination of both the actual benefit of the law, as well as the burden imposed by the law, Chief Justice Roberts did not.  Chief Justice Roberts, who provides the crucial fifth vote to reaffirm that abortion was a constitutionally protected right, repudiates the Whole Woman’s Health test. Instead, he wrote that “the only question for a court is whether a law has the ‘effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.’” In other words, the test for whether an abortion regulation violates the constitution is the Casey test with one question, not two. Thus, like CaseyJune Medical reaffirms abortion is a constitutional right while cutting back protection for abortion.

July 7, 2020 in Abortion, Constitutional, Reproductive Rights, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Women are Being Written Out of Abortion Jurisprudence

Dahlia Lithwick, Women are Being Written Out of Abortion Jurisprudence

It was hard not to miss that there were six separate opinions filed in June Medical Services v. Russothe major abortion litigation of this year’s Supreme Court term, and that every one of those six separate opinions was penned by a man. When Roe v. Wade was written in 1973, the majority opinion also came from the pen of a man, Justice Harry Blackmun, who was at pains to protect and shield the intimate and vital relationship between a doctor (“he”) and the pregnant women. Of course, there were no women on the Supreme Court in 1973, so one could hardly have expected a woman to write the decision, or even for a man to write it with the experience of women at front of mind. Oddly, almost half a century later, none of the three women on the high court wrote a word in June Medical.

 

In the interest of being perfectly clear, I herein lay my cards on the table: I’m not a huge fan of this kind of essentializing and almost four years ago to the day I did a little touchdown dance when the opinion in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Texas abortion ruling with facts virtually identical to those from this year’s, was assigned to Justice Stephen Breyer. At the time I found myself moved by the fact that, as I wrote then, there was “something about Breyer, the court’s sometimes underappreciated fourth feminist, reading patiently from his opinion about the eye-glazing standards that Texas would have required in constructing an ‘ambulatory surgical center,’ that makes the announcement of Whole Woman’s Health just fractionally more perfect. This isn’t just a women’s case about women’s rights and women’s health. ***

 

There are no women in the plurality opinion in June Medical. There are a lot of physicians (mostly male) seeking admitting privileges at hospitals, and there are a lot of judges (mostly male) substituting their own judgment for the women who desire to terminate a pregnancy. And now there are a whole lot of Supreme Court justices, every last one of them male, substituting their judgment for doctors who tried to get admitting privileges and for the judgment of the other men who have myriad and complicated feelings about women who seek to terminate a pregnancy. While the dissenters are voluble about bits of fetal tissue (Justice Neil Gorsuch) and concern for women as victims of greedy abortionists (Justice Samuel Alito), their complete and utter silence about actual women and their actual choices and their lived lives and their hardship is impossible to escape. All these years later, they are being read out of a theoretical dialogue about which kind of balancing tests the men prefer to administer. It is into this woman-shaped silence that Ginsburg has poured out her own life experience, in cases about wage discrimination, contraception, and harassment, in so many other cases over her career. But it is into this woman-shaped silence that we will now fight the next abortion battles, over a constitutional right—as laid out in Roe, reaffirmed in Casey, strengthened in Whole Woman’s Health—which now comes down to a sort of elaborate agency review of whether clinics and physicians acted “in good faith” to comply with laws whose efficacy doesn’t much matter. And one cannot escape the feeling that we have not come a very long way from Blackmun’s deep regard for the wisdom of the male physicians in Roeand  Justice Anthony Kennedy’s deep regard for the wisdom of male Supreme Court justices in 2007’s Gonzales v. Carhart, as we limp toward a celebration of Roberts’ deep regard for precedent and processThe regard for a woman’s right to choose itself? That doesn’t even register as material.

July 7, 2020 in Abortion, Constitutional, Judges, Reproductive Rights, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mount Rushmore will Temporarily Put Women on the Rocks

Wash Post, 19th Amendment Anniversary Celebration will Put Women on Mount Rushmore, Temporarily

In late August and early September, Korp’s project, “Look Up to Her,” will become one of a number of ways the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission will mark the anniversary, along with a commemorative coin and medal produced by the U.S. Mint and a virtual event at the Kennedy Center. She’ll project the images of 14 female leaders of the suffrage and civil rights movements on Mount Rushmore, including women who never themselves got the right to vote.

 
For two weeks, Abigail Adams, Sojourner Truth, Clara Barton, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells, Alice Paul, Jeannette Rankin, Gladys Pyle, Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, Zitkala-Sa, Nellie Tayloe Ross and Rosa Parks will be projected in pairs flanking Mount Rushmore’s four presidents — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt — in several-minute increments.

 

When the 19th Amendment was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920, it granted American women the right to vote after nearly a century of protest. But black women still faced significant barriers to casting ballots. Native American women were still not considered U.S. citizens. The Chinese Exclusion Act prevented Chinese immigrants from becoming U.S. citizens until 1943.

 

Korp says she intentionally chose to include women such as Truth, who was born a slave and died before she had the right to vote; Zitkala-Sa, a Native American who at the time was not a citizen under U.S. law; and Lee, a Chinese immigrant who fought for suffrage knowing it would not apply to her.

July 7, 2020 in Legal History, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, July 6, 2020

Grounding the Role of the Feminist Scholar-Activist in a Transnational Black Feminist Framework

Kia Hall, A Transnational Black Feminist Framework: Rooting in Feminist Scholarship, Framing Contemporary Black Activism, 15 Meridians 86 (2016) [pay wall]

What is the role of feminist scholar-activists in contemporary Black freedom movements such as Black Lives Matter? This article proposes a Transnational Black Feminist framework as a theoretical complement to grassroots activism in Black communities. The proposed framework is rooted in Black feminist and transnational feminist traditions, and has as its core the guiding principles of intersectionality, scholar-activism, solidarity building, and attention to borders and boundaries.

July 6, 2020 in Race, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Book Invisible Women: Data Bias in a Male World

  Caroline Criedo Perez, Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Data is fundamental to the modern world. From economic development, to healthcare, to education and public policy, we rely on numbers to allocate resources and make crucial decisions. But because so much data fails to take into account gender, because it treats men as the default and women as atypical, bias and discrimination are baked into our systems. And women pay tremendous costs for this bias, in time, money, and often with their lives.

Celebrated feminist advocate Caroline Criado Perez investigates the shocking root cause of gender inequality and research in Invisible Women​, diving into women’s lives at home, the workplace, the public square, the doctor’s office, and more. Built on hundreds of studies in the US, the UK, and around the world, and written with energy, wit, and sparkling intelligence, this is a groundbreaking, unforgettable exposé that will change the way you look at the world.

From Goodreads:

Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued. If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you're a woman.

Invisible Women shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. It exposes the gender data gap – a gap in our knowledge that is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women, and that has created a pervasive but invisible bias with a profound effect on women’s lives.

Award-winning campaigner and writer Caroline Criado Perez brings together for the first time an impressive range of case studies, stories and new research from across the world that illustrate the hidden ways in which women are forgotten, and the impact this has on their health and well-being. From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media, Invisible Women reveals the biased data that excludes women. In making the case for change, this powerful and provocative book will make you see the world anew.
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July 6, 2020 in Books, Business, Gender, Healthcare, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Professors File Amicus Arguing Question of Equal Rights Amendment Ratification is a Political Question

Julie Suk, Who Decides the Future of the Equal Rights Amendment?, Take Care blog.

In January 2020, the Virginia legislature voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, almost forty years after the ratification deadline.

 

Has the Constitution been amended? In a lawsuit filed in DC federal court, Virginia says that the ERA is now part of the Constitution. But the defendant National Archivist won’t publish the ERA in the Constitution, in deference to the Trump Administration’s opinion that the deadline for states to ratify the ERA expired in 1979.

 

Who is right, Virginia or the Archivist?  More importantly, who decides?

 

Last week, I filed an amicus brief in the case, joined by constitutional law colleagues Erwin Chemerinsky, Noah Feldman and Reva Siegel. Supporting none of the litigants, we argue that whether the ERA is part of the Constitution under these unprecedented circumstances is a political question for Congress in the first instance, not the courts or the Executive Branch.

 

Virginia, Nevada, and Illinois – the states that ratified after Congress’s deadline -- are asking a court to decide that the ERA was validly ratified and order the Archivist to publish it. Five states that did not ratify the ERA, or that ratified and rescinded their ratifications, have intervened. Their Answer tells the court that “[n]o state could have ‘ratified’ the Equal Rights Amendment in recent years because the deadlines for ratifying that amendment expired years ago.” The Archivist seems to think it’s up to the Executive Branch. If the court reaches the merits of the ERA’s validity, more members of the sitting federal judiciary, on the DC Circuit and the Roberts Court, will eventually decide the fate of the ERA.  But Congress should be the first mover on whether an amendment is ratified, particularly when states disagree.

 

The question of who decides matters, for the long-term legitimacy of the amendment in the eyes of the American people.  In Congress, the House passed a resolution lifting the deadline on ratification in February, and a similar resolution has been introduced in the Senate with 48 sponsors so far.  Thirty-five Senate seats are on the ballot this November. Consistent with Coleman v. Miller, which affirmed Congress’s power to determine reasonable time frames for the ratification of constitutional amendments, a court should not prematurely pronounce on whether the ERA has been or can yet be ratified.

 

Although the prospect of getting a federal judge to add the ERA to the Constitution now may have immediate appeal for ERA proponents, much can be gained by persuading Congress to lift the deadline, validate late ratifications, and reject rescissions.  An amendment’s procedural path makes a difference to its meaning and transformative potential.  The legislative process by which Congress is weighing the ERA’s timeliness provides opportunities for the ERA’s meaning to be updated for the twenty-first century.  These opportunities help legitimize a constitutional amendment after a generation has gone by.  Moreover, congressional debate about the broad range of issues implicated by the ERA– rather than court adjudication of the states’ Article V theory – is more likely to produce an ERA with the bite that its proponents seek.

Amicus Brief of Constitutional Law Professors Erwin Chemerinsky, Noah Feldman, Reva Siegel, in Virginia v. Ferriero (D.D.C.) is here.

July 6, 2020 in Constitutional, Courts, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Anti-LGBT Free Speech and Group Subordination

Luke A. Boso, Anti-LGBT Free Speech and Group Subordination

In 2020, the Supreme Court in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia held that Title VII, a federal workplace antidiscrimination law, prohibits discrimination against gay and transgender employees. The majority concluded by citing potential concerns from religious and conservative dissenters, and it suggested that Constitutional and statutory principles of religious freedom and free speech might override LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination commands in appropriate cases.

This Article is about the tension between liberty and equality. It examines this tension in the context of disputes over Free Speech and LGBT rights. Today, dominant conceptions of both Equal Protection and Free Speech are informed by libertarian ideology, reflecting a commitment to limited government oversight and regulation. A pluralistic and progressive society must more adequately balance libertarian interests in the exercise of individual rights — like Free Speech — with the need for government action to promote equitable outcomes. This Article joins voices prominent in the field of Critical Race Theory who argue for an antisubordinating approach to both equality and liberty. Simply put, if the triumph of a Free Speech claim would enforce a status hierarchy that positions historically oppressed groups as inferior, that Free Speech claim should fail.

The moment is ripe to reconceptualize liberty and equality. In response to a shifting social and legal climate that is increasingly less tolerant of bullying, embraces liberal sexual and gender norms, and seeks to institute formal equality for formerly disfavored groups, many in the conservative movement have turned to the First Amendment to protect the status quo. A libertarian view of the Constitution ensures that meaningful liberty and equality exist only for some. The LGBT community and the backlash to its increasingly protected legal status sit at the epicenter of current court battles over the contours of equality and the breadth of the First Amendment, but equity for all marginalized groups is at stake.

July 2, 2020 in Constitutional, LGBT, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Challenging the Idea of Women Judging Differently: The Jurisprudence of the First Woman Judge, Florence Allen

I've just posted my recent research on Judge Florence Allen, a law review article previewing the book in progress.

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Tracy A. Thomas, The Jurisprudence of the First Woman Judge, Florence Allen: Challenging the Myth of Women Judging Differently (posted July 2, 2020)

A key question for legal scholars and political scientists is whether women jurists judge differently than men. Some studies have suggested that women judges are more likely to support plaintiffs in sexual harassment, employment, and immigration cases. Other studies conclude that women are more likely to vote liberally in death penalty and obscenity cases, and more likely to convince their male colleagues to join a liberal opinion. Yet other studies have found little evidence that women judge differently from men.

This article explores the jurisprudence of the first woman judge, Judge Florence Allen, to test these claims of gender difference in judging. Judge Allen was the first woman judge many times over: the first woman elected to a general trial court (Cuyahoga County Common Pleas in 1920), the first woman elected to a state supreme court (Ohio 1922), the first woman appointed to a federal appellate court (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 1932), and the first woman shortlisted for the U.S. Supreme Court. Her forty years on the bench included cases of constitutional law, administrative power, criminal process, labor rights, and patent cases. Using original archival research, this Article shows that Allen's judicial record supports the conclusion that women judge no differently from men. However, Allen worked hard to cultivate this conclusion, seeking to distance herself from claims of women’s difference and inferiority, and instead seeking to establish that women could “think like a man.” Her deliberate effort was to judge in a moderate, neutral, and objective manner, distancing the work from her feminist activism. Overall the historical record reveals the jurisprudence of the first woman judge as one of moderation, fitted to the male-centric norms of the profession and rejecting any promise of women’s advocacy on the bench.

July 2, 2020 in Courts, Judges, Legal History, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Context and Meaning of the Nineteenth Amendment--Implications for Immigration, Citizenship, and Gender Equality

Amalia Kessler, Introduction to Special Issue

The centennial offers an occasion to explore the amendment’s complex and contradictory legacies, including not only its achievements, but also its limitations and failures. With important contributions by Professors Felice Batlan and Tracy A. Thomas, this thought-provoking special issue contributes to the ongoing national conversation.


Both Batlan and Thomas situate the Nineteenth Amendment within a much longer struggle for women’s equality—one that began well before the Amendment’s ratification in 1920 and that has continued to this day. While recognizing the historic significance of the Amendment’s formal guarantee that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged . . . on account of sex,” the authors also explore how and why the Amendment’s revolutionary potential to promote meaningful equality for women was, right from the get-go, significantly constrained and undermined.***

 

 

While Batlan and Thomas focus first and foremost on the question of history—on how we should understand the Nineteenth Amendment in relation to the struggles that led to its ratification and implementation—they also raise profound and difficult questions regarding the present and future. As Batlan notes, we are now living through a period of renewed xenophobia, as our current presidential administration fuels the flames of ant-immigrant hatred and seeks to curb immigration, including not least the “chain migration” that enables family reunification. The parallels between the experiences of the families served by the Chicago Immigrants’ Protective League a century ago, as detailed by Batlan, and those we encounter in the newspapers today are striking and chilling. As we read about U.S. citizens who are wrongfully detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—with race often used as a proxy for citizenship—it is tempting to denounce these events as un-American. But both Batlan and Thomas remind us that, sadly, we have a long tradition of differentiating between the citizenship rights of different individuals on the basis of race, gender, and class.

 

Thomas, in turn, highlights the important parallels between the demands for comprehensive structural reform that lay at the core of first-wave feminism and those that we see renewed today, including in the recently reenergized campaign for ratification of the ERA. Today’s calls to remake the social, legal, and political
order, she suggests, “ask[] nothing different than what women have been asking for one hundred and seventy years.” As with Batlan’s emphasis on the parallels between anti-immigrant and anti-women sentiment and legislation a century ago and our present-day environment, Thomas’s emphasis on the continuous nature
of unsatisfied feminist demands is, to say the least, sobering. But at the same time, historical memory and lineage can be empowering. To be reminded that we walk in the shoes of others who have come before is to hear the call to pick up the baton. 

Felice Batlan, "She Was Surprised and Furious": Expatriation, Suffrage, Immigration, and the Fragility of Women's Citizenship, 1907-1940,  15 Stanford J. CR & CL 315 (2020)

Tracy Thomas, More Than the Vote: The Nineteenth Amendment as Proxy for Gender Equality, 15 Stanford J. CR & CL 349 (2020)

July 1, 2020 in Constitutional, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 29, 2020

SCOTUS Upholds Right to Abortion, Strikes Down Physician Admitting Privileges Law

Today the US Supreme Court decided June Medical Services v. Russo striking down Louisiana's anti-abortion admitting privileges law.

The majority opinion by Justice Breyer reaffirms the legal standard of Whole Women's Health.  It is a process-heavy decision about third-party standing and a painfully detailed discussion of the district court findings.

Chief Justice Roberts joins the liberal justices in the majority on grounds of stare decisis.  This was essentially the same case as Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstadt (2016).  He also rejects the cost-benefit balancing test of Whole Women's Health, leaving only a plurality of the Court endorsing that standard and returning to the core undue burden standard of Casey.

There are multiple dissenting opinions by the remaining four justices.  Much of the debate devolves into a tangential discussion about deference to district court findings and as applied challenges. 

No woman justice wrote any opinion.  Every male justice wrote an opinion expressing his views.

June 29, 2020 in Abortion, Constitutional, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

More Than the Vote: The 19th Amendment as Proxy for Systemic Gender Equality

I have just published my article, More Than the Vote: The Nineteenth Amendment as Proxy for Gender Equality, 15 Stanford J. Civil Rights & Civil Liberties 349 (2020).

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, pioneering leader of the women’s rights movement in the nineteenth century, famously declared the right of women to vote in 1848 at a convention in Seneca Falls, New York. She alone initially appreciated the importance of the vote both for women’s political power and participation in the governance of the country, as well as its symbolic meaning for women’s full citizenship. Her abolitionist and religious colleagues, however, were suspicious and a bit outraged by the suffrage demand, as these moralistic reformers were opposed to politics, which they viewed as fundamentally corrupt due to bribery, patronage, and abuse of power. Stanton’s friend and co-organizer Lucretia Mott was worried the demand would make the meeting “look ridiculous” and Stanton’s husband, Henry, dismissed the suffrage claim as a “farce.”

 

Nevertheless, they persisted. For seventy-two more years, women activists would fight for the right to vote by organizing annual conventions, creating associations, petitioning legislatures and constitutional conventions, writing editorials, delivering speeches, and campaigning door-to-door for what would become the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

 

This nearly century-long movement for suffrage, however, was never just about the vote. It originated as part of a comprehensive plan for women’s equality as proclaimed at Seneca Falls in the women’s Declaration of Sentiments. Stanton, the intellectual driver of the first women’s rights movement, conceptualized the vote as only one of the needed rights of women to access the political process. The elective franchise was a key piece of reform to provide women access to the right to make the laws that governed them, but it was never the sole goal. Rather, Stanton’s first-wave movement envisioned a full-scale reform of law and society to bring about women’s freedom and equal opportunity. Change was needed, she argued, in four venues: the state, family, industry, and church. She described women’s oppression as “a fourfold bondage” with “many cords tightly twisted together, strong for one purpose” of woman’s subordination.

 

Despite these broad equality efforts targeting multiple systems, the vote emerged as the primary demand for women’s rights. The Civil War “effectively killed the initial collectivity behind the broadly based humanitarian goals of the Seneca Falls Convention.” After the war, Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Amendments focused the national conversation on federal constitutional change, and particularly on the power of the vote prioritized in the Fifteenth Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment also highlighted the issue of the vote for women by explicitly inserting gender into the Constitution for the first time, enforcing the right to vote guaranteed to “male inhabitants” and “male citizens.” Women’s rights advocates were drawn into this constitutional debate, forced to
narrow their focus and react to the national dialogue on suffrage.***

 

Pulled into this national constitutional movement, women’s rights activists utilized the demand for the vote as a proxy for a greater comprehensive agenda of both equality and emancipation from oppression. As Stanton later recalled, the vote was not the central idea of Seneca Falls, but rather “the social wrongs of my sex occupied altogether the larger place” in the early movement.  Her advocacy for the vote thus came to represent full citizenship rights, defined as full equality in civil rights and emancipation from oppressive social and religious norms.

 

This essay first details the origins of women’s political demand for the vote as part of a comprehensive social reform. It then discusses the four strands of the comprehensive early women’s rights agenda for gender equality focused on the political state, domestic family, economic industry, and religious church. Finally, it connects the suffrage activism with demands for an equal rights amendment to realize the full civil rights of equality envisioned by and for women. This long view of women’s rights shows it was never only about the
vote; rather, the vote stood as a shorthand for a complete revolution of the interlocking systems supporting women’s oppression and denying women equal rights. 

June 24, 2020 in Constitutional, Legal History, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Study Documents Disparity in Research Productivity during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ruomeng Cui, Hao Ding & Feng Zhu, Gender Inequality in Research Productivity During the COVID-19 Pandemic" 

We study the disproportionate impact of the lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak on female and male academics' research productivity in social science. We collect data from the largest open-access preprint repository for social science on 41,858 research preprints in 18 disciplines produced by 76,832 authors across 25 countries in a span of two years. We find that during the 10 weeks after the lockdown in the United States, although the total research productivity increased by 35%, female academics' productivity dropped by 13.9% relative to that of male academics. We also show that several disciplines drive such gender inequality. Finally, we find that this intensified productivity gap is more pronounced for academics in top-ranked universities, and the effect exists in six other countries. 

June 24, 2020 in Gender, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Study Documents Disparity in Research Productivity during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ruomeng Cui, Hao Ding & Feng Zhu, Gender Inequality in Research Productivity During the COVID-19 Pandemic" 

We study the disproportionate impact of the lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak on female and male academics' research productivity in social science. We collect data from the largest open-access preprint repository for social science on 41,858 research preprints in 18 disciplines produced by 76,832 authors across 25 countries in a span of two years. We find that during the 10 weeks after the lockdown in the United States, although the total research productivity increased by 35%, female academics' productivity dropped by 13.9% relative to that of male academics. We also show that several disciplines drive such gender inequality. Finally, we find that this intensified productivity gap is more pronounced for academics in top-ranked universities, and the effect exists in six other countries. 

June 24, 2020 in Gender, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Study Documents Disparity in Research Productivity during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ruomeng Cui, Hao Ding & Feng Zhu, Gender Inequality in Research Productivity During the COVID-19 Pandemic" 

We study the disproportionate impact of the lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak on female and male academics' research productivity in social science. We collect data from the largest open-access preprint repository for social science on 41,858 research preprints in 18 disciplines produced by 76,832 authors across 25 countries in a span of two years. We find that during the 10 weeks after the lockdown in the United States, although the total research productivity increased by 35%, female academics' productivity dropped by 13.9% relative to that of male academics. We also show that several disciplines drive such gender inequality. Finally, we find that this intensified productivity gap is more pronounced for academics in top-ranked universities, and the effect exists in six other countries. 

June 24, 2020 in Gender, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

In Disciplinary Proceeding Against Judge, Lawyer Argues Use of the C-Word for Woman Attorney was not Gender Bias, but Indirect Compliment

Judge's Use of the C-word Could be Seen as "Left-handed Compliment," Lawyer Argues

A part-time judge's use of the C-word doesn’t amount to obvious gender bias, his lawyer argued before New York's top court Tuesday.

 

Lawyer Michael Blakey told the New York Court of Appeals that a censure would be sufficient punishment for his client, Judge Paul Senzer of the Northport Village Court of Suffolk County, Law360 reports.

 

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct had recommended removal of Senzer for language in nine emails he sent while representing two clients seeking the right to visit their grandchild.

 

According to the commission, Senzer used the B-word to describe the client’s daughter, and the C-word to describe the daughter’s lawyer.

 

In one email, he referred to the daughter’s lawyer as a “c- - - on wheels.” In another, he referred to the lawyer as “eyelashes.” Senzer also referred to a court’s attorney referee as an “asshole” and the daughter and her ex-husband as “scumbags.”

 

Law360 covered Blakey’s argument, made in-person before the court judges, with the exception of one judge who participated remotely.

 

“We don’t think the gender bias is obvious and we don’t concede it. We could go into multiple interpretations of the words used, but I don’t think that’s necessary. I can just point out the worst one—the C-word,” Blakey said.

 

“It’s not a C-word by itself. It’s a term of art: ‘C on wheels.’ Which, obviously, refers to the aggressiveness of that attorney. It’s a left-handed compliment is one way to look at it,” Blakey said.

 

Blakey added that the language is “obviously inappropriate” but argued that its use didn’t merit removal.

 

Senzer was referring to lawyer Karen McGuire in the C-word email. She offered a sarcastic reaction when contacted by Law360.

 

“Isn’t it every female attorney’s dream to be called a c- - - on wheels? Right?” she said, spelling out the letters for the word. “Don’t we swear our oath and say, ‘This is what I want my legacy to be’?”

June 10, 2020 in Judges, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Exploring the Toxic Racial Construct of the Black Welfare Queen

Catherine Powell & Camille Gear Rich, The “Welfare Queen” Goes to the Polls: Race-Based Fractures in Gender Politics and Opportunities for Intersectional Coalitions, Geo.L.J., 19th Amendment, Special Edition (forthcoming)

As Americans celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment’s ratification, our celebration would be premature if we failed to reflect on the ways that race has been used to fracture women’s efforts at coalition politics and our understanding of women’s rights. Indeed, a careful reading of U.S. history and contemporary politics shows that although similar rights claims are made across a diverse community of American women, women’s shared interests are often obscured by the divisive manipulation of race. Notably, 2020 is also the 150-year anniversary of the Fifteenth Amendment, which granted the right to vote to Black men. In this Article, we use the coinciding anniversaries of the two amendments as a critical opportunity to direct feminist attention to intersectional questions—to frame this historical moment as a pivot point that explores the mutually constitutive nature of gender and racial subordination in American politics.

In service of these goals, we use this Article to explore a toxic racial construct often used to distract American women from our shared rights claims—the political trickster known as the “welfare queen.” This construct was born as a result of fiscal conservatives’ attacks on government anti-poverty subsidy programs in the 1980s. It relied on antipathy toward Black women—characterized as “welfare cheats” or frauds—and pathologized women of color to call for aggressive cuts to social-safety-net programs. This Article explores the remobilization of this construct in present-day electoral politics and the ways in which it compromises cross-racial coalitions and obscures the path to reform. We take as our object the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath, for in 2016, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and his surrogates reanimated the welfare queen construct and alleged that she was stealing American democracy through voter fraud. The visceral power of this construct allowed this group of Republicans to transform Americans’ understanding of voting rights and American democracy. In so doing, their representations simultaneously sidetracked feminist efforts to build strong cross-racial coalitions. This Article explores the various paths out of our current discourse, dispelling thedistracting haze generated by the welfare queen construction. In the process, we also hope to advance our conceptual understanding of intersectional identities and their relationship to political change.

June 10, 2020 in Family, Legal History, Poverty, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Women's Triple Bind in Corporate Culture That Valorizes Alpha Male Culture

Naomi Cahn, June Carbone & Nancy Levit, Women, Rule-Breaking, and The Triple Bind, 87 Geo. Wash L. Rev. 1105 (2019).

Two growing literatures critique Hobbesian corporate cultures. Management analyses document the way high-stakes/zero-sum bonus systems undermine, rather than enhance, productivity as they subvert teamwork, valorize self-interested behavior, and weaken ethical standards. This literature treats negative effects of such systems, including lawless and unethical behavior, as the unintended consequences of efforts to shake up complacent institutions or replace an insular old guard with an ambitious and meritocratic new workforce. A second, darker literature terms such Hobbesian environments “masculinities contests” that select for those executives who best exemplify masculine traits such as a single-minded focus on professional success, physical strength, and the willingness to engage in no-holds-barred competition. This literature treats the rule-breaking environment that results as an incidental byproduct of the way that such cultures valorize masculine traits. Drawing on insights from criminology, psychology, and feminist theory, this Article suggests another possibility: that certain management cultures intentionally design the competitions to facilitate breaking the rules with impunity.

In a Hobbesian world, where some profit handsomely from defying convention, zero-sum competitions play a role that extends beyond valorizing alpha males. They select for leaders who will lie, shortchange their families, and break the law to get results—and do so without explicit orders that might subject upper management to accountability for the practices. In such a world, women fall behind not necessarily because of misogyny, though such environments often breed it. Instead, they lose because of a triple bind. First, women cannot prevail in such competitions unless they can outmaneuver men, credibly display greater devotion to the job, or more brazenly flout the laws. Second, they are disproportionately disliked and punished for displaying the self-centered, rule-breaking behavior of men. Third, women become less likely to seek positions because they correctly perceive that they could not thrive and are more likely than men to decide they do not wish to do so on such terms, reinforcing the male-identified character of such environments. Where these companies’ business models depend not just on the ability to upend traditional practices, but to break the law, the companies cannot address gender disparities without addressing the business model itself. The Article concludes that gender inequality is intrinsically intertwined with the evisceration of the rule of law in corporate America.

June 10, 2020 in Business, Masculinities, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)