Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Working Mothers and the Postponement of Women's Rights from the Nineteenth Amendment to the Equal Rights Amendment

Julie Suk, Working Mothers and the Postponement of Women's Rights from the Nineteenth Amendment to the Equal Rights Amendment,   Forthcoming, University of Colorado Law Review, Vol. 92, No. 3, 2021

The Nineteenth Amendment’s ratification in 1920 spawned new initiatives to advance the status of women, including the proposal of another constitutional amendment that would guarantee women equality in all legal rights, beyond the right to vote. Both the Nineteenth Amendment and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) grew out of the long quest to enshrine women’s equal status under the law as citizens, which began in the nineteenth century. Nearly a century later, the ERA remains unfinished business with an uncertain future. Suffragists advanced different visions and strategies for women’s empowerment after they got the constitutional right to vote. They divided over the ERA. Their disagreements, this Essay argues, productively postponed the ERA, and reshaped its meaning over time to be more responsive to the challenges women faced in exercising economic and political power because they were mothers. An understanding of how and why the amendment stalled speaks directly to the current controversy in Congress and the courts about whether a congressional time limit should stop the ERA from achieving full constitutional status. Such an understanding recognizes that suffragists disagreed in the immediate aftermath of the Nineteenth Amendment’s ratification over the ERA, and that these divisions undermined the ERA’s prospects for at least a few decades. Ultimately, however, the ERA that earned congressional adoption and 38 ratifications over almost a century was stronger because of this postponement.

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

The Disparate Impact of COVID on Single Mother Families and the Argument for Human Rights Protections

Theresa Glennon, Alexis Fennell, Kaylin Hawkins, Madison McNulty, "Shelter from the Storm: Human Rights Protections for Single Mother Families in the Time of COVID-19"  , 27 Wm. & Mary J. Race, Gender & Soc. Justice ___ (2021 Forthcoming)

This Article assesses the effects in the US of COVID-19, with particular attention to its impact on single mother families. It scrutinizes decades of deliberate legal and policy choices that have left them financially vulnerable and exposed to enormous risks to their health and well-being. To remedy this situation, this Article argues for adopting a human rights framework that can reverse this disastrous course.


This Article conveys the pandemic experiences of some single mothers and their place in larger demographic trends. It identifies the disparate impacts that the pandemic has had on single mother families and the laws and policies that have either supported these individuals and their families or left them adrift. The Article then examines the structure of employment and family assistance laws and policies. Inadequate employment discrimination protections contribute to the financial vulnerability of single mother households. These vulnerabilities force some single mothers into welfare and other assistance programs that are materially inadequate and purposefully humiliating. Government officials have used sexist and racist tropes to vilify single mothers as immoral, lazy and opportunistic to justify this denigration. After reviewing this statutory framework, the Article briefly explains why constitutional law has not provided an adequate remedy. It reviews the Supreme Court’s use of extremely deferential standards of review of government decisions that negatively and disparately affect single mothers, including BIPOC single mothers, regarding employment laws and social and welfare programs. Finally, to address these problems the Article proposes use of a human rights framework. Such a framework would bring the US in line with most other developed states that have embraced these principles. More importantly, it would help protect against multiple forms of discrimination that currently fall outside of constitutional protection and help ensure adequate provision of material resources to the most vulnerable among us.

January 13, 2021 in Family, Healthcare | Permalink | Comments (0)

In Another Shadow Docket Order, SCOTUS Stays Abortion In-Person Medication Requirement During COVID Found Unconstitutional by District Court

In another shadow docket ruling, the Supreme Court stayed a district court's preliminary injunction enjoining the unconstitutional application of a Covid abortion requirement that women seeking medicated abortions appear in person.

The order is here,  FDA v. American College of OB/GYNS (Jan. 12, 2021), with concurrence by Justice Roberts and dissent by Justice Sotomayor.

NYT, Supreme Court Revives Abortion Pill Restriction

In the Supreme Court’s first ruling on abortion since the arrival of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the court on Tuesday reinstated a federal requirement that women seeking to end their pregnancies using medications pick up a pill in person from a hospital or medical office.

The court’s brief order was unsigned, and the three more liberal justices dissented. The only member of the majority to offer an explanation was Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who said the ruling was a limited one that deferred to the views of experts.

The question, he wrote, was not whether the requirement imposed “an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion as a general matter.” Instead, he wrote, it was whether a federal judge should have second-guessed the Food and Drug Administration’s determination “because of the court’s own evaluation of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“Here as in related contexts concerning government responses to the pandemic,” the chief justice wrote, quoting an earlier opinion, “my view is that courts owe significant deference to the politically accountable entities with the ‘background, competence and expertise to assess public health.’”

In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan, said the majority was grievously wrong.

“This country’s laws have long singled out abortions for more onerous treatment than other medical procedures that carry similar or greater risks,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “Like many of those laws, maintaining the F.D.A.’s in-person requirements” for picking up the drug “during the pandemic not only treats abortion exceptionally, it imposes an unnecessary, irrational and unjustifiable undue burden on women seeking to exercise their right to choose.”

January 13, 2021 in Abortion, Constitutional, Healthcare, Reproductive Rights, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Symposium: COVID Care Crisis and the Impact on Women in Legal Academia

Symposium, COVID Care Crisis, Jan. 14 & 15 (Zoom) (registration free)

In the months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s scholarly output and publications have dropped in various disciplines, while service and care responsibilities that fall disproportionately on junior or marginalized faculty and staff have likely increased. Compounding these pressures, Black faculty and faculty of color more generally have also been coping with the emotional effects of the police killings of George Floyd and others, at the same time that COVID-19’s health effects are concentrating along lines of race and inequality in these communities specifically. All of these factors threaten the output, visibility, status and participation of women and other primary caregiving faculty and staff in legal academia.

Left unaddressed, these disparities also have the potential to alter the landscape of legal academia and further marginalize women and the perspectives they bring to legal scholarship, education, and public dialogue. This symposium seeks to raise awareness of the current COVID care crisis and its impacts on academia, and to begin a dialogue on concrete and innovative responses to this crisis.

January 12, 2021 in Conferences, Equal Employment, Healthcare, Law schools, Women lawyers, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Book: The First American Women Law Professors

I enjoyed hearing about this new book at the AALS conference this year.  Understanding the history, and discrimination of women law professors from those featured in the book and on the panel was interesting if also frustrating.  

Herma Hill Kay, Paving the Way: The First American Women Law Professors, edited by Patricia Cain (forthcoming April 2021, U California Press)

Paving the Way by Herma Hill Kay, Patricia A. Cain

Book Blurb: When it comes to breaking down barriers for women in the workplace, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s name speaks volumes for itself—but, as she clarifies in the foreword to this long-awaited book, there are too many trailblazing names we do not know. Herma Hill Kay, former Dean of UC Berkeley School of Law and Ginsburg’s closest professional colleague, wrote Paving the Way to tell the stories of the first fourteen female law professors at ABA- and AALS-accredited law schools in the United States. Kay, who became the fifteenth such professor, labored over the stories of these women in order to provide an essential history of their path for the more than 2,000 women working as law professors today and all of their feminist colleagues.

Because Herma Hill Kay, who died in 2017, was able to obtain so much first-hand information about the fourteen women who preceded her, Paving the Way is filled with details, quiet and loud, of each of their lives and careers from their own perspectives. Kay wraps each story in rich historical context, lest we forget the extraordinarily difficult times in which these women lived

The point made by Melissa Murray was also well taken that the limitations of this study, focused as it was on ABA accredited and AALS schools, omitted many important women of color who taught at other institutions.  For an earlier post about one of these women, Lutie Lytle, see The Story of the First Woman -- and the First Black Woman -- Law Professor, Lutie Lytle (2/1/2019) 

January 12, 2021 in Books, Law schools, Legal History, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

COVID, Abortion Restrictions, and Public Health in the Culture Wars

Laura D. Hermer, COVID-19, Abortion, and Public Health in the Culture Wars, 47 Mitchell Hamline L.Rev. (2020)  

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 36 governors ordered or requested a halt to all elective health care visits, procedures, and tests in March or April 2020 to conserve scarce personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing supplies and to help prevent the spread of the virus. Among those states, at least nine expressly chose to include many or most abortion services within the order’s scope, whether directly or through informal clarification. Civil liberties and women’s health care organizations rapidly filed suit in eight of the states to enjoin the various orders. Over the course of about three weeks, federal district courts in six of the cases granted plaintiffs’ requests for temporary restraining orders. The Sixth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits upheld the district courts’ decisions on appeal, but the Fifth and Eighth Circuits reversed. Both of those reversals were ultimately rendered moot when Texas and Arkansas each permitted elective procedures to resume. Three other cases settled.

The states that implemented abortion restrictions generally took substantial efforts to protect their populace from COVID-19, except in health care contexts involving abortion. At the same time, the lower-income women and women of color who disproportionately provided essential services during the pandemic and were infected with and suffered more severe cases of Covid-19 also disproportionately need abortion services. While they were making the greatest sacrifices for all of us, they also found their reproductive safety net in grave jeopardy.

Documents filed in the litigation over state-level COVID abortion restrictions make it clear that the states that sought to use pandemic PPE shortages to restrict abortions were not concerned about the health or welfare of any of the parties involved, including fetuses. The article examines the arguments that they and their amici made to support their policy choices and details the implications of those policies on the patients seeking abortions, their health care providers, their fetuses, and their loved ones in the context of the pandemic. The evidence demonstrates that the restrictions had nothing to do with protecting anyone’s life or health or conserving scarce PPE. The juxtaposition of these restrictions against our society’s fierce fight against the pandemic makes the disparities in how we treat certain biological problems rather stark. The time is ripe for a re-evaluation of when, if ever, it may be reasonable for a state to restrict the right to an abortion.

January 12, 2021 in Abortion, Courts, Healthcare, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 4, 2020

Tracing the Development of Gendered Violence as an Issue of Global Constitutional Law

Judith Resnik, Susanne Baer & Marta Cartabia, Women, Gendered Violence, and the Construction of the "Domestic" in Seeking Safety, Knowledge, and Security in a Troubling Environment: Global Constitutionalism 2020

This Chapter provides background material for conversations held at the 2020 Global Constitutionalism Seminar (a Part of the Gruber Program on Global Justice and Women’s Rights) at Yale Law School.

This Chapter begins with an examination of the centuries-long assumption that gender-based violence was a “private” issue meant that legislatures, law enforcement agencies, and courts were unresponsive. It then maps how social movements and critical lawyering reframed gendered violence as one form of subordination that is in fact a marker of inequality and provides examples of national and transnational law that debate the bases, contours, and implications of rights to be free from such oppression. Having explored what affirmative obligations governments have toward their own populations to protect against gendered violence, this Chapter considers whether international refugee law, humanitarian law, and jurisdictions’ own constitutional law require offering a haven for people escaping gendered violence. Across the world, many courts have read constitutions to require that law aim to provide protection against and safety from gendered violence. Such mandates for an active state presence (often through criminalization) contrast with traditional approaches in which courts have insisted that law not interfere when acts are marked as private, intimate, or domestic. This Chapter explores the demands on the state and the repertoire of remedies deployed when governments work towards achieving substantive equality.

December 4, 2020 in Constitutional, International, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Using Social Science to Understand Why Family Courts Discount Women's Testimony in Domestic Violence Cases

Amelia Mindthoff, Deborah Goldfarb, Kelly Alison Behre, How Social Science Can Help Us Understand Why Family Courts May Discount Women's Testimony in Intimate Partner Violence Cases, 53 Family Law Quarterly, No. 3, 2019.

Thirty years ago, legal scholars and social scientists began to note the legal systems’ skepticism of women in general and victims of gender-based violence in particular. Despite increased public awareness about domestic violence, female victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) continue to find their credibility discounted. Deborah Tuerkheimer coined the term “credibility discount” to describe how the criminal legal system responds to women’s reports of sexual violence by discounting their credibility at every step of the process, from initial reports to law enforcement and prosecutorial discretion through judicial and jury decisions. Deborah Epstein and Lisa Goodman expanded the dialogue on credibility discounting to include the experiences of female victims of IPV in legal and social service settings. IPV victims often access family courts for injunctive relief, child custody and visitation orders, and financial relief following separation from an abusive partner, a time period during which they are at a heightened lethality risk. Consequently, credibility discounting by family courts may prove particularly dangerous for victims of IPV.

This Article builds upon the work done thus far on the intersection of gender and credibility in the family courts by reviewing both psychological research and legal scholarship examining factors that may contribute to the perseverance of credibility discounting of IPV victims. As part of this discussion, we raise potential psychological misperceptions or assumptions that underlie the discounting of people’s credibility, including factors that may be particularly pertinent to women reporting IPV. We further consider the implications of these misperceptions in family court settings. We hope this advances the discussion on remedies for credibility discounting to ensure that victims receive just treatment as they navigate the legal system.

Part I of this Article reviews the family court’s role in IPV cases and how it can perpetuate credibility discounting. Part II discusses gender biases in the legal system that have the potential to propagate credibility discounting of IPV victims navigating the family court system. Part III explores general psychological theory and associated empirical evidence and considers how theory can shed light on why credibility discounting may persist in family courts. Part IV provides suggestions for ways to mitigate gender bias demonstrated in the credibility discounting of IPV victims in family courts.

December 4, 2020 in Courts, Family, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Patents and Gender: Rethinking Structural and Institutional Biases

Jessica Lai, Patents and Gender: A Contextual Analysis, 10(3) Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property 283-305 (2020)

Patent law is considered to be an objective law, dealing with the objective subject matter of the “technical arts”. Yet, empirical studies show that patenting rates around the world are gendered. This article analyses the roots of the gender patent gap, and how this correlates to the invention and innovation processes. It shows that the gendered nature of the patent-regulated knowledge governance system forces women into traditionally male spaces and fields in order to partake in the extant patent game. Yet, when they enter those spaces and fields, they often find themselves unwelcome and subject to institutional, structural or organisational biases, which impinge upon their ability to invent, patent and commercialise.

The article re-frames the discourse around women inventors. It argues that we have to stop focusing on the “women in science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM)” narrative, because it is a distraction from the underlying problem that the Western knowledge governance system reflects the hegemonic powers at play. Instead, we need to re-think the knowledge governance system and the ecosystem it creates, in order to ensure egalitarian knowledge production and protection.

December 4, 2020 in Business, Gender, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

New Book: Women and the Law (2020), Annual Edition of Selected Greatest Hits in Legal Scholarship on Women's Rights

I've just published the 2020 edition of Women and the Law (Thomson Reuters).  It is an annual edition of selected works on women and the law likely to be of interest to practitioners in the field.  Kind of a "greatest hits" if you will of the legal scholarship from the prior year.

Here is this year's Table of Contents:

Part A Special Issue: The Nineteenth Amendment

Chapter 1 More Than the Vote: The Nineteenth Amendment as Proxy for Gender Equality, Tracy A. Thomas

Chapter 2 The Nineteenth Amendment and the Democratization of the Family, Reva B. Siegel

Chapter 3 The Constitutional Development of the Nineteenth Amendment In the Decade Following Ratification, Paula A. Monopoli

Chapter 4 Thin and Thick Conceptions of the Nineteenth Amendment Right To Vote and Congress's Power To Enforce It, Richard Hasen and Leah M. Litman

Chapter 5 The “Welfare Queen” Goes to the Polls: Race Based Fractures in Gender Politics and Opportunities for Intersectional Coalitions, Catherine Powell and Camille Gear Rich

Part B Women in the Workplace

Chapter 6 Sexual Harassment Litigation with a Dose of Reality, Diane P. Wood

Chapter 7 What's Reasonable Now? Sexual Harassment Law After the Norm Cascade, Joan C. Williams, Jodi Short, Margot Brooks, Hilary Hardcastle, Tiffanie Ellis, and Rayna Saron

Chapter 8 Beyond the Bad Apple—Transforming the American Workplace for Women After #MeToo, Claudia Flores

Chapter 9 Knowledge Pays: Reversing Information Flows and the Future of Pay Equity, Orly Lobel

Part C Reproductive Rights

Chapter 10 The Continued Rise of the Reproductive Justice Lawyer, Leigh Creighton Bond and Monika Taliaferro

Chapter 11 Contracting Pregnancy, Rachel Rebouché

Part D Feminism and the Family 

Chapter 12 Unsexing Pregnancy, David Fontana and Naomi Schoenbaum

Chapter 13 Settling in the Shadow of Sex: Gender Bias in Marital Asset Division, Jennifer Bennett Shinall

Part E Violence Against Women

Chapter 14 Straight Outta SCOTUS: Domestic Violence, True Threats, and Free Speech, Jessica Miles

Chapter 15 Retraumatized in Court, Negar Katirai

Chapter 16 #MeToo and Mass Incarceration, Aya Gruber

Part F Theory

Chapter 17 Sex in Public, Elizabeth Sepper and Deborah Dinner

Chapter 18 Leveling Down Gender Equality, Tracy A. Thomas

Chapter 19 Engendering Trust, Deborah S. Gordon

Chapter 20 The Body Politic: Federalism as Feminism in Health Reform, Elizabeth Y. McCuskey

December 1, 2020 in Books, Gender, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 30, 2020

Understanding Sojourner Truth's Role in Passage of the Nineteenth Amendment and the Fight for Black Women's Rights

Lolita Buckner Inniss, "While the Water is Stirring": Sojourner Truth as Proto-agonist in the Fight for (Black) Women’s Rights, 100 Boston U. L. Rev. 1637 (2020)

This Essay argues for a greater understanding of Sojourner Truth’s little discussed role as a proto-agonist (a marginalized, long-suffering forerunner as opposed to a protagonist, a highly celebrated central character) in the process that led up to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Though the Nineteenth Amendment failed to deliver on its promise of suffrage for black women immediately after its enactment, black women were stalwarts in the fight for the Amendment and for women’s rights more broadly, well before the ratification of the Amendment and for many years after its passage. Women’s rights in general, and black women’s rights in particular, were created and sustained by the work of antebellum activists like Sojourner Truth, a towering figure who was tied to nineteenth-century movements for abolition and women’s suffrage. Sojourner Truth’s advocacy on behalf of women was premised upon a womanist approach to speech and action that centered the experiences of black women in the business of equal rights both in terms of race and gender. Sojourner Truth’s work as a justice-seeking sage with a goal of advancing the legal, political, and economic rights of women in general and black women in particular is a source of inspiration and a model for making contemporary black women protagonists and co-agonists—co-centric figures—in the work that is still much needed at the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment.

November 30, 2020 in Constitutional, Legal History, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Long History of Feminist Legal Theory

I've just posted a new book chapter, The Long History of Feminist Legal Theory, forthcoming in in The Oxford Handbook of Feminism and Law in the United States (Deborah L. Brake, Martha Chamallas & Verna L. Williams eds. Oxford Univ. Press).

This chapter challenges the conventional idea that feminist legal theory began in the 1970s. The advent of legal feminism is usually placed in the second wave feminist movement, birthed by the political activism of the women’s liberation movement and nurtured by the intellectual leadership of women scholars newly entering legal academia. However, legal feminism has a much longer history, going back more than a century earlier. While the term “feminist” was not used in the United States until the 1910s, the foundations of feminist legal theory were first conceptualized as early as 1848 and developed over the next one hundred and fifty years. This chapter traces that development. It begins with the establishment of the core theoretical precepts of gender and equality grounded in the surprisingly comprehensive philosophy of the nineteenth-century’s first women’s rights movement ignited at Seneca Falls. It then shows how feminist legal theory was popularized and advanced by the political activism of the women’s suffrage movement, even as suffragists limited the feminist consensus to one based on women’s maternalism. Progressive feminism then expanded the theoretical framework of feminist theory in the early twentieth century, encapsulating ideas of global peace, market work, and sex rights of birth control. In the modern era, legal feminists gravitated back to pragmatic and concrete ideas of formal equality, and the associated legalisms of equal rights and equal protection. Yet through each of these periods, the two common imperatives were to place women at the center of analysis and to recognize law as a fundamental agent of change.

 

November 30, 2020 in Books, Constitutional, Legal History, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Americans Talk About MeToo and Law

Lesley Wexler, #MeToo and Law Talk, 29 Univ. Chicago Legal F (2019)  

How Americans talk when they talk about #MeToo is often deeply rooted in the law—even in non-legal settings, participants in the #Me-Too conversation often deploy legal definitions of victims and perpetrators, reference legal standards of proof and the role of legal forums, draw explicit or implicit comparisons to legal punishments, and derive meaning from legal metaphors and legal myths. In this essay, I identify and assess the deployment of such law talk to help understand both how legal rhetoric may facilitate the national #MeToo conversation and related legal reforms, but may also simultaneously limit and obscure some of the #MeToo’s more transformative possibilities. Such critical engagement seeks to open space for selective pushback, including initial thoughts on the possibilities of reclaiming colloquial law talk to better match the interests at stake in non-legal settings as well as bringing to the forefront the therapeutic, informative, and structural issues law talk might crowd out.

November 30, 2020 in Equal Employment, Gender, Pop Culture, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 23, 2020

How Sex Discrimination in Medical Research is Thwarting a Cure for COVID

Lori Andrews, Is Sex Discrimination in Medical Research Thwarting a Cure for COVID?

Despite the knowledge we might gain about COVID-19 and other infectious diseases from research on women, most medical research focuses on men.

  • A study of heart disease—the leading cause of death among women—was undertaken on 22,000 men and  no women. 
  • A federal study on health and aging proceeded for twenty years with only male subjects. 
  • Absurdly, even though women account for 80 percent of autoimmune disorder patients, the main research subjects are—you guessed it—men. 
  • Even basic biological research is done mainly with male mice!  

Male-Centered Research is Killing Us

The dangers from male-centered research are profound.  Even though women consume 80 percent of medications in the U.S., drug research is still predominantly conducted on men and fails to consider how drugs act over the course of a woman’s menstrual cycle.  Consequently, drugs can reach the market that are actually harmful to women.  In fact, eight of the ten dangerous drugs removed from the market between 1997 and 2000 caused greater harm and fatalities for women. 

 

A wide range of medications, including some antihistamines, gastrointestinal drugs, antibiotics and antipsychotics trigger potentially fatal heart arrhythmias more often in women than men.  

 

In 1993, Congress adopted a law designed to ensure that women were allowed to participate in medical research. 

 

When discrimination persisted, the National Institutes of Health in 2016 announced guidelines requiring federally-funded scientists to enroll women in studies, to disaggregate medical research data by sex, and to study female animals and female cells as well.

 

Then along came COVID-19, with its tsunami of scientific articles.  By May 13, 2020, there were more than 23,000 papers published on COVID-19 with the number of articles doubling every twenty days. 

 

When I analyzed the burgeoning medical research literature about COVID-19 along with my team at the Institute for Science, Law and Technology at Chicago-Kent College of Law, we found that the historical discrimination against women in medical research still exists. 

 

Only a few scientific articles about COVID-19 analyze the difference in symptoms between men and women.  Most not only fail to break down the symptoms by sex, but also erroneously assume that the death rate of men and women is the same—ignoring the numerous studies that already demonstrated that men with COVID-19 die at a higher rate than women.

 

The fact that, in 2020, researchers would blindly assume women’s bodies behave like men’s is troubling.

November 23, 2020 in Gender, Healthcare, Pop Culture, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Leveling Up or Leveling Down Equal Protection Remedies - The Trump Challenge to the PA Election

In the recent case of the Trump challenge to the Pennsylvania votes, garnering much scholarly attention, one issue is the appropriate remedies for equal protection violations and the question of leveling up or leveling down. See Trump for President v. Boockvar, (M.D. Pa. Nov. 21, 2020). Plaintiffs allege an equal protection violation from some counties allowing correction or curing of defective mail in ballots, but not other counties including theirs.  They seek the remedy of invalidating the votes that were allowed to be corrected rather than allowing theirs to be cured.

The Supreme Court addressed this issue in the 2017 case Sessions v. Morales-Santana, 137 S.Ct. 1678 (2017).  And I wrote about it extensively in,  Leveling Down Gender Equality, 42 Harvard J. Law & Gender 177 (2019), challenging the Court's decision in Morales-Santana leveling down the remedy for gender discrimination against fathers in grants of citizenship.

I think the district court gets it right here in the PA case:  that the presumption is leveling up.  And it is arguably an easier case as leveling down threatens the fundamental rights of others. 

From the Boockvar decision:

Moreover, even if they could state a valid claim, the Court could not grant Plaintiffs the relief they seek. Crucially, Plaintiffs fail to understand the relationship between right and remedy. Though every injury must have its proper redress,116 a court may not prescribe a remedy unhinged from the underlying right being asserted.117 By seeking injunctive relief preventing certification of the Pennsylvania election results, Plaintiffs ask this Court to do exactly that. Even assuming that they can establish that their right to vote has been denied, which they cannot, Plaintiffs seek to remedy the denial of their votes by invalidating the votes of millions of others. Rather than requesting that their votes be counted, they seek to discredit scores of other votes, but only for one race.118 This is simply not how the Constitution works.

When remedying an equal-protection violation, a court may either “level up” or “level down.”119 This means that a court may either extend a benefit to one that has been wrongfully denied it, thus leveling up and bringing that person on par with others who already enjoy the right,120 or a court may level down by withdrawing the benefit from those who currently possess it.121 Generally, “the preferred rule in a typical case is to extend favorable treatment” and to level up.122 In fact, leveling down is impermissible where the withdrawal of a benefit would necessarily violate the Constitution.123 Such would be the case if a court were to remedy discrimination by striking down a benefit that is constitutionally guaranteed. Here, leveling up to address the alleged cancellation of Plaintiffs’ votes would be easy; the simple answer is that their votes would be counted. But Plaintiffs do not ask to level up. Rather, they seek to level down, and in doing so, they ask the Court to violate the rights of over 6.8 million Americans. It is not in the power of this Court to violate the Constitution.124 “The disenfranchisement of even one person validly exercising his right to vote is an extremely serious matter.”125 “To the extent that a citizen’s right to vote is debased, he is that much less a citizen.”126 Granting Plaintiffs’ requested relief would necessarily require invalidating the ballots of every person who voted in Pennsylvania. Because this Court has no authority to take away the right to vote of even a single person, let alone millions of citizens, it cannot grant Plaintiffs’ requested relief. 

116 Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 147 (1803).
117 Gill, 138 S. Ct. at 1934 (“A plaintiff’s remedy must be tailored to redress the plaintiff’s particular injury.”) (citing Cuno, 547 U.S. at 353).

118 Curiously, Plaintiffs now claim that they seek only to enjoin certification of the presidential election results. Doc. 183 at 1. They suggest that their requested relief would thus not interfere with other election results in the state. But even if it were logically possible to hold Pennsylvania’s electoral system both constitutional and unconstitutional at the same time, the Court would not do so.
119 Heckler v. Matthews, 465 U.S. 728, 740 (1984) (internal citations omitted).
120 Id. at 741; Califano v. Westcott, 443 U.S. 76, 90-91 (1979).
121 E.g., Sessions v. Morales-Santana, 137 S. Ct. 1678, 1701 (2017).
122 Id. (internal citations omitted).
123 See Palmer v. Thompson, 403 U.S. 217, 226-27 (1971) (addressing whether a city’s decision to close pools to remedy racial discrimination violated the Thirteenth Amendment); see also Reynolds, 377 U.S. at 554 (citing Mosley, 238 U.S. at 383).

However, it should be noted that Justice Ginsburg in Morales-Santana rejects this focus on particularized individual injury.  Even though that is the longstanding standard of standing, redressability, and remedies.  And what I, and other Remedies and Constitutional Law Scholars argued was the correct standard.   Instead, she finds that a equal protection remedy is sufficient if it corrects the unconstitutional government action.  

 

November 23, 2020 in Constitutional, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mapping the Divergent Directions of Gender Quotas for Corporate Boards Since Norway

Darren Rosenblum, Diversity and the Board of Directors: A Comparative Perspective" 
Draft Chapter for Elgar's Research Handbook on Comparative Corporate Governance (Afsharipour & Gelter, eds.), Forthcoming

Upon Norway’s adoption of its corporate board quota, nobody would have predicted that, within fifteen years, most of the top ten economies would follow suit. When Norway adopted its corporate board quota in 2003, it took a clear, new direction for corporate governance and for equality law. In so doing, it recognized two things: 1) the central role that the private sector plays in determining questions of equality, and 2) the responsibility of the state to ensure that the private sector would rectify entrenched discrimination. These statutes effectively feminized boards across Europe and elsewhere. This Chapter maps the divergent directions these quota efforts have taken, in both civil and common law jurisdictions. Contrasts among these efforts reveal distinct frameworks for inclusion. As social science makes sense of the efficacy of these efforts, this Chapter suggests directions that future inclusion efforts may take.

November 23, 2020 in Business, Gender, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 19, 2020

How Native American Women Inspired the Women's Rights Movement

Sally Roesch Wagner, How Native American Women Inspired the Women's Rights, Suffrage Movement

“Never was justice more perfect; never was civilization higher,” suffrage leader Matilda Joslyn Gage wrote about the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois Confederacy, whose territory extended throughout New York State.

Matilda Joslyn Gage led the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, the three women trading executive positions over the 20 years of the organization’s existence.

According to Gloria Steinem, Gage was “the woman who was ahead of the women who were ahead of their time.” When the women’s suffrage leadership grew conservative, Gage dropped out of the movement. Suffragists stopped remembering her progressive contributions, like her 1893 revelation of the sex trafficking of women and girls in the United States.

Gage, and to a lesser extent Stanton, were largely dropped from the history. With their exclusion, we also lost this story of how they saw women’s rights in action in the native culture of the Haudenosaunee, and realized they could create the conditions for it in their own society.

Having worked for women’s rights for forty years, Gage and Stanton became increasingly frustrated with their inability to make major gains in their social, economic or political positions as women by the 1880’s.

In their disappointment, they looked beyond the Euro-American culture that was already known intimately to them and gained a vision of a world of equality from their nearby neighbors. Stanton and Gage grew up in the land of the Haudenosaunee, the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy: the Onondaga, Mohawk, Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida and Tuscarora who had social, religious, economic and political positions far superior to their own, they wrote.

The Six Nation Haudenosaunee Confederacy had, and still have today, a family/governmental structure based on female authority. Haudenosaunee women controlled the economy in their nations through their responsibilities for growing and distributing the food. They had the final authority over land transfers and decisions about engaging in war.

Children came through the mother’s line, not the father’s, and if the parents separated, the children stayed with their mother, and if she died, with her clan family. Women controlled their own property and belongings, as did the children. Political power was shared equally among everyone in the Nation, with decisions made by consensus in this pure democracy, the oldest continuing one in the world.

November 19, 2020 in Legal History, Race, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Justice ACB on Griswold

NPR, Supreme Court's Abortion Cases Could Threaten Birth Control Too

But many people overlook other things that could flow from new U.S. jurisprudence on abortion — such as erasing the right to birth control that the court recognized in a 1965 case, Griswold v. Connecticut. During her confirmation hearings, Barrett specifically refused to say whether she felt Griswold was correctly decided.

That was a flashing red warning light for Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal advocacy group that argues cases on abortion and contraception. Roe, Northup says, is part of a century of jurisprudence based on the idea that the U.S. Constitution protects the liberty of individuals.

"It began with cases about how one educates one's children," Northup says, and includes same-sex marriage, contraception and abortion. You can't just take Roe out and not unravel the whole fabric."

Yet from what Barrett has said and written about the Constitution, Northup says, "it's clear she doesn't believe it protects the right to personal liberty."

NPR, On Contraception Case, Amy Coney Barrett Again Avoids Question

The 7-2 decision in Griswold v. Connecticut is viewed as the basis for Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized a woman's right to abortion nationwide.

Instead of directly answering Coons' question about whether the Supreme Court made the appropriate ruling in Griswold, Barrett said she found it unlikely that decision would ever be overturned.

"It seems unthinkable that any legislature would pass such a law" taking away the right to buy or use contraception, she said. "I think the only reason that it's even worth asking that question is to lay a predicate for whether Roe was rightly decided."

"I think that Griswold is very, very, very, very, very, very unlikely to go anywhere," she added.

November 19, 2020 in Abortion, Constitutional, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

The MeToo Movement's Effect on Juror Bias in Sexual Assault Cases

Mary Graw Leary, Is the #MeToo Movement for Real? Implications for Juror's Biases in Sexual Assault Cases, 81 Louisiana L. Rev. 1 (2020)  

For decades the conventional wisdom asserted that law enforcement, the judiciary, and jurors were skeptical of claims of sexual violence and largely unsympathetic to the plight of victims. Many high profile cases highlighted this reality. These include the acquittal of R. Kelly for rape despite some video evidence, the sentencing of Brock Turner to less than a year incarceration for sexual assault of an unconscious woman, and the guilty plea of Jeffrey Epstein to minor charges despite significant evidence of the sex trafficking of minors. This perception of a lack of justice for sexual violence victims is also generally supported by the documented attrition rates of sexual violence cases as they progress through the criminal justice system. Scholars suggest many reasons for this bias against sex crime victims including victim blaming, discrimination, a desire to not want to believe the abuse occurred, stereotypes of the victims, acceptance of the rape myth, or the perceived credibility of the offenders.

In October of 2017, a public social movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault emerged on the national level (although it previously existed), entitled the “Me Too Movement.” This movement awakened a revelation in the United States of the prevalence of the sexual harassment and abuse experienced by women. By underscoring the frequency with which women are assaulted, the movement forced a reluctant public to face the breadth of the problem and the trauma experienced by these women.

A body of research exists regarding the lack of sympathy of jurors to victims of sexual violence. A new body of research is emerging documenting the effect of the #Me Too Movement on societal perceptions of rape and other forms of sexual violence. This article examines the latter focusing on the effect the movement could have on contemporary societal norms regarding sexual assault. It explores whether these effects may alter previously accepted assumptions regarding jurors, perhaps suggesting a shift not only in public perception, but jury perception of sexual violence. It argues that the Movement has significant potential to ameliorate the attrition problem in sexual assault cases, but not in expected ways. For this positive change to occur, it requires work of prosecutors and judges in these trials rethink evidence and jury selection and incorporate some of the lessons learned.

November 19, 2020 in Courts, Equal Employment, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Pregnant Employees Fare When Denied Workplace Accommodations, Some Improvement 5 Years After Young v. UPS

Nicole B. Porter, Accommodating Pregnancy Five Years After Young v. UPS: Where We Are & Where We Should Go,  14 St. Louis U. J. Health L. & Pol'y, Forthcoming

This Article will explore how pregnant employees fare when they are denied accommodations in the workplace that would have allowed them to work safely through their pregnancies. The two most commonly used legal avenues for pregnant plaintiffs are the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Successful cases under the ADA were very rare until Congress expanded the ADA’s definition of disability in 2008. And PDA claims became easier after the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc.1 Five years after that decision, this Article will analyze the body of PDA cases decided since Young, and all of the ADA cases where pregnancy is the claimed disability since the ADA was amended in 2008. Although the picture is not quite rosy for pregnant plaintiffs, it is perhaps more positive than many scholars predicted it would be. Nevertheless, there remain many gaps in protection — some caused by the statutes’ limitations — but many caused by litigants’ and judges’ inability (or unwillingness) to properly interpret these two statutes. This Article will explain where we are and explore options for where we should go in the future.

November 19, 2020 in Equal Employment, Pregnancy, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)