Friday, July 30, 2021

New Book: The Woman Behind the Supreme Court's Decision in West Coast Hotel v. Parrish

Helen Knowles, Making Minimum Wage: Elsie Parrish v. West Coast Hotel Company

The US Supreme Court’s 1937 decision in West Coast Hotel v. Parrish, upholding the constitutionality of Washington State’s minimum wage law for women, had monumental consequences for all American workers. It also marked a major shift in the Court’s response to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal agenda. In Making Minimum Wage, Helen J. Knowles tells the human story behind this historic case.

West Coast Hotel v. Parrish pitted a Washington State hotel against a chambermaid, Elsie Parrish, who claimed that she was owed the state’s minimum wage. The hotel argued that under the concept of “freedom of contract,” the US Constitution allowed it to pay its female workers whatever low wages they were willing to accept. Knowles unpacks the legal complexities of the case while telling the litigants’ stories. Drawing on archival and private materials, including the unpublished memoir of Elsie’s lawyer, C. B. Conner, Knowles exposes the profound courage and resolve of the former chambermaid. Her book reveals why Elsie—who, in her mid-thirties was already a grandmother—was fired from her job at the Cascadian Hotel in Wenatchee, and why she undertook the outsized risk of suing the hotel for back wages.

Minimum wage laws are “not an academic question or even a legal one,” Elinore Morehouse Herrick, the New York director of the National Labor Relations Board, said in 1936. Rather, they are “a human problem.” A pioneering analysis that illuminates the life stories behind West Coast Hotel v. Parrish as well as the case’s impact on local, state, and national levels, Making Minimum Wage vividly demonstrates the fundamental truth of Morehouse Herrick’s statement.

July 30, 2021 in Books, Equal Employment, Legal History, SCOTUS, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Book: Jesus and John Wayne, How Patriarchy and Toxic Masculinity are Perpetuated by the Church

The author lets the research speak for itself as she explores the modern cultural manifestations of patriarchy, militant masculinity, and the church's role in sexism.

Wash Post, "Jesus and John Wayne": How a Book About Evangelicals Became a Best Seller

As journalists and academics tried to explain how evangelicals could bring themselves to vote for Trump, Du Mez argued that evangelical support was not a shocking aberration from their views but a culmination of evangelicals’ long-standing embrace of militant masculinity, presenting the man as protector and warrior.

“In 2016, many observers were stunned at evangelicals’ apparent betrayal of their own values,” Du Mez wrote. “In reality, evangelicals did not cast their vote despite their beliefs, but because of them.”***

Du Mez, who teaches at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich., wrote that mainstream evangelical leaders such as John Piper, James Dobson and John Eldredge, preached a “mutually reinforcing vision of Christian masculinity — of patriarchy and submission, sex and power.”

“The militant Christian masculinity they practiced and preached did indelibly shape both family and nation,” Du Mez wrote.

July 30, 2021 in Books, Family, Gender, Masculinities, Pop Culture, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 29, 2021

A Feminist Analysis of the International Mediation Process

Jenna Sapiano, The Boundaries of Peace: A Feminist Analysis of International Mediation Processes  
Griffith Law Review, Forthcoming

The assumption that peace mediation is gender-neutral reproduces and reinforces the already gendered aftermath(s) of war. Peace mediation is a multilayered conflict resolution mechanism that ranges from grassroots peacebuilding to high-level diplomacy. As a ‘language of peace’, international law has become foundational in high-level peace mediation processes and institutions. International legal feminist and queer theory are critical of international law for its gendered and heteronormative frameworks that reinforce the binaries of war/peace, masculine/feminine or heterosexual/homosexual. Global governance gender law reforms, such as the Women, Peace and Security agenda, are part of the institutional frameworks that guide peace mediation processes. High-level peace mediators are also members of an ‘epistemic community’ regulated by international and regional organizations. The article analyses how masculine and heteronormative international legal institutions and experts shape peace mediation’s already gendered processes and outcomes. The article concludes that contemporary peace mediation approaches must be rethought and that alternatives to the traditional peace table must be imagined.

July 29, 2021 in Business, Courts, International, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Learning from the European Union Model of Corporate Board Diversity and Gender Equity

Kimberly Houser & Jamillah Bowman Williams, Board Gender Diversity: A Path to Achieving Substantive Equality in the U.S., 63 William & Mary L. Rev. (forthcoming) 

 While the United States made history this year with Kamala Harris becoming the first woman, Black, and Asian Vice President, the country overall has been rapidly losing its status as a global power founded on democratic principles. This is in part due to the leadership’s active involvement in reducing the rights of women, Black people, and other marginalized groups. We use gender diversity on corporate boards as a comparative example, to examine the legal frameworks designed to promote equality in the EU and U.S.

While the European Union (EU) was founded on the concept of equality as a fundamental value in 1993, the United States (U.S.) was created at a time when women were considered legally inferior to men. This has had the lasting effect of preventing women in the U.S. from making inroads into positions of power. While legislated board gender diversity mandates have been instituted in some EU countries, the United States has been loath to take that route, relying instead on the goodwill of corporate boards with little progress. On September 30, 2018, however, California enacted a law that has stirred much controversy for requiring at least one woman to be on the boards of corporations headquartered in the state by 2020. Based on our analysis, the CA bill and other similar legislative efforts will fail without parallel constitutional action and cultural change in the United States.

We begin by examining the individual, institutional, and cultural reasons why the U.S. lags so far behind the rest of the industrialized world. We then discuss recent activism by powerful institutions such as NASDAQ and Goldman Sachs that may be signs of broader cultural change and receptiveness to positive action. Next, we conduct an analysis of the legislative, cultural, and constitutional factors that have helped the EU succeed in increasing board diversity. We conclude by offering a normative solution that can pave the way to achieving gender equality in the United States. Learning from the EU model, the U.S. must let go of the Equal Rights Amendment and adopt a Substantive Equality Amendment to the Constitution requiring positive action to facilitate laws enabling gender equality. This solution will have broad cultural impact outside of the board context and will help change the lived experiences and outcomes for women in the United Stated for generations to come. It will change the course of history.

July 29, 2021 in Business, International, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Meet the New Editors on Gender and the Law Prof Blog

We welcome three new editors to our team here at the Gender & the Law Prof Blog.  We look forward to their thoughts and insights beginning next week.  

 

Jamie Abrams, Professor of Law, University of Louisville

Jamie R. Abrams

 

Brenda Bauges, Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Inclusion, University of Idaho

Brenda Bauges

 

Amanda Fisher, Attorney, Visiting Professor, Western Michigan-Cooley Law School

Amanda M. Fisher

July 27, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Documentary Preview, PBS ThinkTV, Let Ohio Women Vote

Documentary Preview, ThinkTV, Let Ohio Women Vote

Let Ohio Women Vote tells the story of the long fight for women’s suffrage in our state – a fight which created unpredictable alliances as well as surprising connections to national events. The documentary will premiere in the fall of 2021.

"As Ohio goes, so goes the nation."

July 27, 2021 in Constitutional, Legal History, Legislation, Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

CFP Applied Feminism and The Big Idea

APPLIED FEMINISM AND “THE BIG IDEA”

The Center on Applied Feminism at the University of Baltimore School of Law seeks paper proposals for the Thirteenth Annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference.  We hope you will join us for this exciting conference on Friday, April 8, 2022.  This year, we aim to capture, develop, and disseminate cutting edge theorizing around issues of gender equity and intersectionality. 

We are in a tumultuous period of history in which we are grappling with a global health pandemic and sharp political polarization, while also experiencing flourishing movements for racial and gender justice.  This is a time for innovation and creativity — for highlighting ideas that create a more just society. We want to explore how feminist legal theory is responding and growing during this time and bridging toward a future of greater gender and intersectional justice. Thus, we seek submissions of papers that have “big ideas” about issues related to feminist legal theory and other critical legal theories from a variety of substantive disciplines and perspectives. As always, the Center’s conference will serve as a forum for scholars, practitioners, and activists to share ideas about applied feminism, focusing on connections between theory and practice to effectuate social change. The conference will be open to the public and will feature a keynote speaker. Past keynote speakers have included Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Dr. Maya Angelou, and Gloria Steinem.

To submit a paper proposal, by Friday, October 29, 2021, please complete this form and include your 500 word abstract: https://forms.gle/L4rdht7te3WuRTtPA We will notify presenters of selected papers by early December. About half the presenter slots will be reserved for authors who commit to publishing in the annual symposium volume of the University of Baltimore Law Review. Thus, the form requests that you indicate if you interested in publishing in the University of Baltimore Law Review's symposium issue. Authors who are interested in publishing in the Law Review will be strongly considered for publication. For all presenters, working drafts of papers will be due no later than March 18, 2022. Presenters are responsible for their own travel costs; the conference will provide a discounted hotel rate as well as meals.

We look forward to your submissions. If you have further questions, please contact Prof. Michele Gilman at mgilman@ubalt.edu. For additional information about the conference, please visit law.ubalt.edu/caf.

July 27, 2021 in Call for Papers, Conferences, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Recognizing the Problem of Discrimination Against Women as Business Owners and Investors

Ann Lipton, Capital Discrimination, Houston L.Rev. (forthcoming)  

The law of business associations does not recognize gender. The rights and responsibilities imposed by states on business owners, directors, and officers do not vary based on whether the actors are male or female, and there is no explicit recognition of the influence of gender in the doctrine.

Sex and gender nonetheless may pervade business disputes. One co-owner may harass another co-owner; women equity holders may be forced out of the company; men may refuse to pay dividends to women shareholders.

In some contexts, courts do recognize and account for these dynamics, such as when married co-owners file for divorce. But business law itself has no vocabulary to engage the influence of sex and gender, or to correct for unfairness traceable to discrimination. Instead, these types of disputes are resolved using the generic language of fiduciary duty and business judgment, with the issue of discrimination left, at best, as subtext. The failure of business law doctrine to confront how gender influences decisionmaking has broad implications for everything from the allocation of capital throughout the financing ecosystem to the lessons that young lawyers are taught regarding how to counsel their clients.

This Article will explore how courts address – or fail to address – the problem of discrimination against women as owners and investors. Ultimately, the Article proposes new mechanisms, both via statute and through a reconceptualization of fiduciary duty, that would allow courts to recognize, and account for, gender-based oppression in business.

July 27, 2021 in Business, Courts, Equal Employment, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 22, 2021

A Functional and Contextual Analysis of Dignity as an Organizing Principle Underpinning Rape Law

Anna High, Sexual Dignity in Rape Law, 33 Yale J. Law & Feminism (2021)  

Dignity is a famously contested concept, suggesting its deployment as a legal principle should be closely scrutinized. This Article sets out a functional and contextual analysis of dignity as an organizing principle underpinning rape law, which I term “sexual dignity”. Based on sexual violence theory, I trace the “democratization” of sexual dignity over time, as dignity and attendant rights of autonomy and equality have gradually extended from man to the (qualified) woman to women as a group, and identify an emerging contemporary feminist consensus on the meaning of sexual dignity. This framework is then applied to a critical review of how judges across common law jurisdictions understand and use dignity in decisions on rape. The caselaw of sexual dignity illustrates that dignity is a usefully capacious concept for exploring and condemning the multiplicity of rape’s harms and wrongs. However, uncritical engagement with sexual dignity can be harmful, with implications both for rape law and for the regulation of sexual behaviour generally. As such, I argue that robust and reflective engagement with sexual dignity is both necessary and productive.

July 22, 2021 in Constitutional, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Critiquing the Expansion of Mandatory Reporting of Sexual Harassment under Title IX

Justine Dunlap, Harmful Reporting, 51 New Mexico L.Rev. (2021)  

Title IX is used in many ways; perhaps most prominent and controversial is its use to address issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault on college campuses. The regulations governing that use have just been changed, with the Department of Education issuing new final regulations on May 6, 2020. The recent spotlight aside, an aspect of Title IX that has gotten too little attention has been the move towards having all or nearly all university employees categorized as “mandatory reporters.” A mandatory reporter is one who must report an allegation of sexual assault to the university’s Title IX coordinator. This report must be made even if it is against the wishes of the student who discloses that she or he was the victim of the assault. This widespread use of mandatory reporters, perhaps counterintuitively, confers harm on the individual disclosing the assault. It also does not achieve the intended goals, one of which is often stated as making it known that the institution takes sexual assault very seriously. Anointing all employees, including nonsupervisory faculty members, as mandatory reporters actually drives down student desire to disclose. This in turn prevents student survivors from getting the support they need in order to have equal education opportunities regardless of sex, which is the core purpose of Title IX. Therefore, having a widespread mandatory reporting requirement not only inhibits disclosure but itself may be a violation of Title IX. Other phenomena presently influence the willingness to disclose and/or report sexual assault. The #MeToo Movement and the Harvey Weinstein trial reveal much about the challenges and trauma associated with disclosing and reporting. Further, some state legislatures have codified mandatory reporting and others have considered or will consider it. There are better ways to comply with Title IX and protect survivors. Those ways must become more widespread.

July 22, 2021 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Importance of Equality on the Bench to the Legitimacy of the Courts

Judith Resnik, Representing What: Gender, Race, Class, and the Struggle for the Identity and Legitimacy of Courts 

This symposium addresses the relationship of diversity and pluralism to the judiciary. The phrase “Equal Treatment Under Law” was carved in the stone above the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building, which opened in 1935. At the time, many schools were segregated by race, dozens of laws barred women from full participation in economic and political life, and discrimination based on gender identity was commonplace. The justices who sat on the Court and almost all the lawyers who argued before them were white.

Today, the Supreme Court’s stone inscription has become its motto. That phrase is read as if it always referenced an understanding of equality that has become central to the identity and the legitimacy of courts. Reducing the descriptive discrimination of prior eras, the judiciary now “looks” different than it did, and in that sense has come to be more “representative” by its partial reflection of the range of people appearing in courts.

Given judiciaries’ history of supporting legal discrimination, the sense that courts ought to belong to everyone is a major achievement. But to assess the impact of that shift requires analysis of three other major alterations in U.S. courts — the influx of a host of litigants newly entitled to pursue legal claims, the limited resources of many claimants, and the development of judiciaries’ institutional agenda, including supporting shifts away from public adjudication to more private forms of dispute resolution.

Research about diversification of judges has yet to look at the interaction among these changes. Much of the research has sought to tease out whether judges’ decisions in cases have changed in the wake of the entry of women judges. However, the “difference that difference makes” needs to be analyzed at institutional levels as well as by aggregating the decision-making of individuals. During the last century, judiciaries developed structural capacities to speak about the “administration of justice.” They gave meaning to this phrase through setting their own priorities, proposing new rules and legislation, developing education programs, and commissioning research and task forces on specific topics. Moreover, judiciaries honed their skills at lobbying for resources. As I detail, the entry of women and men of color into the legal profession affected these agendas. The affinity organizations they founded pressed courts to inquire into their own history and practices of bias and to respond through revising rules of ethics, doctrine, and practice.

Furthermore, a focus on a newly and partially diversified judiciary needs to be coupled with attending to other participants — disputants, lawyers, and the processes that courts use. That fuller picture makes plain that because so many people in courts have limited means, the aspiration that disputants have participatory participation remains illusive. The “justice gap” has become a shorthand for the point that courts and the social order in which they sit have yet to take steps sufficient to help under-resourced litigants.

Worse yet, in some jurisdictions, courts have served as “revenue centers,” using court-imposed fines and fees as sources of income. Failure to pay “legal financial obligations” can result in suspension of driver’s licenses, the loss of voting rights, and other sanctions, levied disproportionately on people who are poor and of color. Instead of being seen as fonts of fairness, courts are coming to be identified as sites of inequality.

In addition, many courts have embraced alternative forms of dispute resolution that make both processes and outcomes less visible to the public, which has a place as of right in courts. Through doctrine and rules, U.S. courts have shifted their own practices and mandated enforcement of clauses imposed on consumers and employers that push them out of court and out of class or joint actions.

In sum, the new faces on the bench ought not obscure that the project of representation, inclusion, and equality is far from complete. The vivid inequalities in courts are problems for courts because such disparities undermine their ability to be places of justice.

July 21, 2021 in Courts, Gender, Judges, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

New Book: A Psychoanalyst Explores Toxic Masculinity and Violence Against Women

NY Review of Books, Christine Smallwood, The Power of Questions, reviewing Jacqueline Rose's On Violence and On Violence Against Women

[M]ale violence against women....is a tool designed, as Jacqueline Rose writes in her new book, On Violence and On Violence Against Women, “to remind the girl or woman of what she is”—to gender her as female. For Rose ..., gender-based violence is not caused by sexual difference—neither attributes aggression to, for example, an excess of testosterone—rather it establishes the hierarchy of sexual difference. 

Rose would ... add that ... violence is not the expression of a power they have, but of power they lack. ... As Rose would put it, he hits her to shore up his “fraudulent authority.”

Psychoanalysis has a word for this behavior, and it is “narcissism.” “Narcissism starts with the belief that the whole world is at your feet, there solely for you to manipulate,” explains Rose.

What is “fraudulent” about the authority of Stanleys everywhere is that it is rooted in denial. Women can and do commit acts of violence. But male violence interests Rose because it expresses the fundamental psychoanalytic mechanism of shame, projection, and denial. Boys and men are taught that masculinity means an absurd omnipotence, mastery, comfort, and prowess. They fail—how could they not?—to live up to that ideal. Many cannot tolerate their own vulnerability, which is coded as weakness, so they project vulnerability onto others, usually women; having disowned and disavowed it, they then try to destroy the woman who has come to represent (or embody) that vulnerability, through harassment, abuse, assault, rape, bullying, blows. The state colludes with this psychological and social project in policies that limit reproductive freedom, cruelly degrade asylum-seekers, and refuse trans people self-determination, to name only a few examples.

Harassment and sexual abuse are not, therefore, “the unadulterated expression of male power and authority”; quite the opposite. Violence against women has a frantic quality; it is something that one can only resort to; it protests too much. Which is not to say that it doesn’t hurt to be hit. Fraudulent authority is often deadly.

Those who have read Rose’s previous books will be somewhat familiar with the contours of this analysis. On Violence and On Violence Against Women takes up a subject she has not covered before—the dynamic that has lately been termed “toxic masculinity”—but it does so according to a conceptual approach she has been refining for decades.

July 20, 2021 in Books, Masculinities, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Feminist Rethinking of Applying Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress to Nonconsenual Sex Videotaping

Lisa Pruitt, Commentary on Boyles v. Kerr (Texas 1993) for Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Torts Opinions,  
Commentary on Cristina Carmody Tilley's Rewritten Opinion in Boyles v. Kerr (Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Torts Opinions, Cambridge University Press 2020, Forthcoming)

This paper comments on Professor Cristina Tilley's rewritten feminist opinion in Boyes v Kerr (Texas 1993). The Texas Supreme Court in Boyles v. Kerr rigidly refused to extend the state’s negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) precedents to permit recovery when the plaintiff was a young woman (Susan Kerr) whose emotional distress was the consequence of her lover (Dan Boyles, Jr.,), in collaboration with three friends, surreptitiously videotaping the pair having sex and then sharing the video with his fraternity brothers at the University of Texas. But the feminist rewrite of Professor Tilley (writing as Justice Tilly) makes clear that the salient doctrines were and are more than capacious enough to have permitted Kerr’s NIED recovery. In fact, the myriad opinions in Boyles, as well as their extensive discussion of NIED’s history and precedents, reveal a highly malleable claim, the evolution of which reveals clearly gendered themes and trends.

July 20, 2021 in Media, Technology, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Using Vulnerability Theory to Address Family and Elder Caregiving and the State's Resistance to Support

Jessica Dixon Weaver, The Perfect Storm: Coronavirus and The Elder Catch,
96 Tul. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2021)

The global COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already growing phenomenon: the Elder Catch. This term defines the caregiving dilemma faced by adults who are simultaneously working, caring for elder parents or relatives, and in some cases, raising children at the same time. Few scholars have explored how the state uses the traditional family framework to resist providing comprehensive government support for elder care. Women typically bear the brunt of caregiving costs within the family and become physically and mentally vulnerable in the process. COVID-19 has pushed women caught in the Elder Catch to the brink while sheltering at home, and has illuminated the disparities between genders regarding the high level of expectation society places on the availability of unpaid family caregiving. Coronavirus has also highlighted racial inequities for African American and Latino families, where female caregivers are more likely to be essential workers forced to work outside the home, and therefore more likely to contract and spread the virus within their family and surrounding communities. This article uses vulnerability theory to address the caregiving void that American women are facing. By introducing a new term, resistant assets, within the taxonomy of vulnerability theory, this article introduces a diagnostic tool for scholars and policy makers to analyze why it is so difficult to change state and market dependence on unpaid family caregiving and challenge government opposition to expanding social support of the family. Resistant assets are frameworks used by the state to reinforce the status quo and maintain a posture of legal and social non-intervention. The normative and extended family are resistant assets that prevent a revision of the American Social Contract. This article fills a gap in family law scholarship by exploring how analysis of resistant assets within vulnerability theory can contribute to the development of a theoretical foundation for legal change to support family caregivers.

July 20, 2021 in Family, Race, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Copyright Jurisprudence

Ryan Vacca & Ann Bartow, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Copyright Jurisprudence,  22 Nevada L.J. (forthcoming 2022)

When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18, 2020, the world lost a trailblazer for gender equality, a pop culture icon, a feisty liberal luminary who fought on behalf of the disenfranchised in the areas of civil rights and social justice, and an inspiration to millions of people. She will long be remembered for the social changes she helped effectuate as an advocate, scholar, and jurist.

Her amazing civil rights legacy overshadows other areas where Justice Ginsburg’s contributions have been substantial. This article discusses one of the most interesting: copyright law. During her time as a jurist on the Supreme Court and D.C. Circuit, she authored sixteen opinions in copyright cases and joined her colleagues’ opinions in eleven others. But unlike her gender equality and social justice opinions, in which she predictably sided with rock-slinging Davids, Justice Ginsburg tended to favor Goliath content owners in copyright cases. This article offers possible explanations for why this was so, by holistically evaluating Justice Ginsburg’s copyright writings. It identifies several themes running through her copyright opinions: incrementalism, intergovernmental deference, a preference for alternative mechanisms for relief, and stoicism, and juxtaposes her copyright jurisprudence with her approaches to gender equality and reproductive rights.

July 13, 2021 in Courts, Judges, Science, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Menstruation Discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Problem of Shadow Precedents

Deborah Widiss, Menstruation Discrimination and the Problem of Shadow Precedents" 
Columbia Journal of Gender and the Law, Forthcoming

The movement calls attention to menstruation-related discrimination in workplaces, schools, prisons, and many other aspects of life. In recent years, a few courts have suggested such discrimination could violate Title VII, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in employment. Their analysis focuses on the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), an amendment to Title VII passed to override a Supreme Court case that had held pregnancy discrimination was not sex discrimination.

This essay, written for a symposium at Columbia Law School, applies my earlier research on the statutory interpretation of Congressional overrides to highlight two potential challenges this nascent litigation campaign may face, and to suggest how to avoid them. The first risk is that courts will simply deny such claims, reasoning that menstruation is not directly addressed by the text of the PDA and therefore should not be recognized as sex discrimination. The second—which is more subtle, and also perhaps more likely—is that courts could find such discrimination to be actionable, but do so relying solely on the PDA’s explicit reference to “medical conditions” related to pregnancy. While that would be helpful for addressing discrimination in workplaces, it could open the door to arguments that menstruation is outside the ambit of sex discrimination laws that do not include comparable language.

Theorists and advocates should instead seek to establish that menstruation discrimination is discrimination the basis of “sex” itself, in that it is a condition linked to female reproductive organs (although transmen and boys and non-binary persons may also menstruate) and associated with stereotypical assumptions about women’s proper role in society. That reasoning, which suggests that the PDA is properly interpreted as signaling Congress’s disapproval with the Supreme Court’s unduly cramped understanding of what constitutes sex discrimination in the earlier pregnancy case, should apply not only to Title VII, but also to the interpretation of statutory and regulatory prohibitions on sex discrimination in non-employment contexts.

July 13, 2021 in Equal Employment, Gender, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Equal Rights Amendment, Then and Now

Julie Suk, The Equal Rights Amendment, Then and Now, The Oxford Handbook of Feminism and Law in the United States (Deborah Brake, Martha Chamallas, & Verna Williams eds. 2021)

One hundred years in the making, the Equal Rights Amendment is the only proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that has met the requirements of Article V of the Constitution but has not been added to the Constitution due to a congressionally imposed ratification deadline. The Amendment guarantees that “[e]quality of rights shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” like gender equality guarantees in most constitutions around the world. This Essay exposes the unique trajectory of the Equal Rights Amendment to shed light on the process of feminist constitutional change and the evolution of substantive feminist legal aspirations. The revival of the ERA ratification process, decades after Congress’s deadlines, has generated transgenerational public meanings for a new body of gender equality law and public policy.

July 13, 2021 in Constitutional, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 12, 2021

Gender Bias in Empirical Textualism and the Corpus Linguistics Interpretive Technique

Matthew Jennejohn, Samuel Nelson, D. Carolina Nunez, Hidden Bias in Empirical Textualism, 109 Georgetown L.J. 767 (2021)   

A new interpretive technique called “corpus linguistics” has exploded in use over the past five years from state supreme courts and federal courts of appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. Corpus linguistics involves searching a large database, or corpus, of text to identify patterns in the way in which a certain term is used in context. Proponents of the method argue that it is a more “empirical” approach than referencing dictionaries to determine a word’s public meaning, which is a touchstone in originalist approaches to legal interpretation.

This Article identifies an important concern about the use of corpus linguistics in legal interpretation that courts and scholarship have overlooked: bias. Using new machine learning techniques that analyze bias in text, this Article provides empirical evidence that the thousands of documents in the Corpus of Historical American English (COHA), the leading corpus currently used in judicial opinions, reflect gender bias. Courts and scholars have not considered that the COHA is sexist, raising the possibility that corpus linguistics methods could serve as a vehicle for infecting judicial opinions with longstanding prejudices in U.S. society.

In addition to raising this important new problem, this Article charts a course for dealing with it. It explains how hidden biases can be made transparent and introduces steps for “debiasing” corpora used in legal interpretation. More broadly, it shows how the methods introduced here can be used to study biases in all areas of the law, raising the prospect of a revolution in our understanding of how discriminatory biases affect legal decisionmaking.

July 12, 2021 in Courts, Gender, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

"We Have Been Here Before": SCOTUS and the Demise of Abortion Rights in Casey

Earl Maltz, We Have Been Here Before: Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey and the Survival of Abortion Rights 

Nearly half a century after the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, recent events have given supporters of the pro-choice position good reason to fear that the Supreme Court is likely to soon abandon its support for abortion rights. Although the Court recently struck down an anti-abortion statute in June Medical Services v. Russo, the balance of power in that case was held by Chief Justice John Roberts, whose opinion indicated that, in the future, he was likely to allow states to impose a wide variety of restrictions on access to abortions. Moreover, the pro-choice forces recently lost one of their staunchest allies when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and was replaced by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose nomination was roundly cheered by those who argue that Roe should be overruled. Thus, many observers believe that the Court is likely to use Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization as a vehicle to eliminate or significantly undermine constitutional constraints on the ability of state governments to limit access to abortions.

However, we have been here before. In the decade between 1981 and 1991, Republican presidents who were openly critical of the decision in Roe had the opportunity to nominate five of the nine members of the Supreme Court. Moreover, during this period, the issue of abortion played an increasingly important role in the selection of those justices. Thus, by the early 1990s, most commentators believed that the anti-abortion forces were on the verge of claiming near-total victory in their campaign against Roe and its progeny. But despite the expectations of most commentators, in the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, a majority of the justices reaffirmed their support for the view that the Constitution protects the right of a woman to terminate her pregnancy without undue interference from the government, and thereby created a regime that has endured for almost three decades. This article will describe the sequence of events that led to the decision in Casey and culminated in the failure of the assault on abortion rights.

July 12, 2021 in Abortion, Constitutional, Judges, Legal History, Reproductive Rights, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Title IX Campus Sexual Harassment Movement and its Influence on Modern Feminist Action

Nancy Chi Cantalupo, The Title IX Movement Against Campus Sexual Harassment: How a Civil Rights Law and a Feminist Movement Inspired Each Other, Chapter 15 in Deborah Brake, Martha Chamalls & Verna Williams, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Feminism and Law in the United States, Forthcoming

If the inauguration of our first Black president made 2009 a “big” (if complicated) year for progress on racial equality, 2009 also witnessed a significant marker for gender equality, as hundreds of thousands of students and their allies began to mobilize against campus sexual assault, organizing around the groundbreaking civil rights statute, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972. Moving from the Title IX movement’s genesis during the Obama administration to the movement’s direct-action protests and litigation challenging regulations issued in May 2020 by then-Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, this chapter tells the story of how Title IX and the student movement interacted from 2009 to 2020. During these years, the movement not only weathered backlash against it but also influenced both later feminist movements such as #MeToo and non-feminists’ understandings of sexual harassment, demonstrating the continued power and promise of both feminist law and feminist organizing.

July 12, 2021 in Education, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)