Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, July 27, 2020

Thin and Thick Interpretations of the Nineteenth Amendment -- A More Robust Understanding of Women's Constitutional Rights

Richard Hasen & Leah Litman, Thin and Thick Conceptions of the Nineteenth Amendment Right to Vote and Congress's Power to Enforce It, 108 Georgetown L.J. 27 (2020)

This Article, prepared for a Georgetown Law Journal symposium on the Nineteenth Amendment’s one-hundred-year anniversary, explores and defends a “thick” conception of the Nineteenth Amendment right to vote and Congress’s power to enforce it. A “thin” conception of the Nineteenth Amendment maintains that the Amendment merely prohibits states from enacting laws that prohibit women from voting once the state decides to hold an election. And a “thin” conception of Congress’s power to enforce the Nineteenth Amendment maintains that Congress may only supply remedies for official acts that violate the Amendment’s substantive guarantees.

 

This Article argues the Nineteenth Amendment does more. A “thick” understanding of the Nineteenth Amendment’s substantive right is consistent with the Amendment’s text and history, as well as with a synthetic interpretation of the Constitution and its expanding guarantees of voting rights. The thick understanding of the Nineteenth Amendment would allow voting-rights plaintiffs to attack restrictive voting laws burdening women—especially those laws burdening young women of color, who are also guaranteed nondiscrimination in voting on the basis of age and race. A thick understanding of Congress’s power to enforce the Nineteenth Amendment would give Congress the ability to pass laws protecting women from voter discrimination and promoting their political equality. The thick understanding offers a way to redeem the Amendment from some of its racist origins and entanglement with the sexism that limited the Amendment’s reach. It also reinforces the democratic legitimacy of the Constitution. Nonetheless, the current Court is unlikely to embrace a thick understanding of the Nineteenth Amendment.

Paula Monpoli similarly argues for a thick or more robust interpretation of the Nineteenth Amendment, tracing the historical development of the thin conception of the amendment post-ratification in her new book, Constitutional Orphan: Gender Equality and the Nineteenth Amendment (Oxford Aug. 2020).  See Paula Monopoli, The Constitutional Development of the Nineteenth Amendment in the Decade Following Ratification, 11 ConLawNOW 61 (2019)

Reva Siegel argues for a more robust interpretation of the Nineteenth Amendment for gender equality more generally by a better understanding of the pre-ratification history, and a symbiotic reading of the Nineteenth with the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause.  Reva B. Siegel, The Nineteenth Amendment and the Democratization of the Family, 129 Yale L.J. Forum 450 (2020)

 

July 27, 2020 in Constitutional, Gender, Legal History, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 23, 2020

What Took so Long for the ERA To Gain Traction?

I'm quoted in this article on the ERA.

Hannah Hayes, 100 Years On, the ERA Rises from the Ashes, ABA Perspectives Magazine (March 2020)

n March 2017, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The move came just two months after the Women’s March on Washington drew hundreds of thousands to Washington, D.C., to protest President Donald Trump’s inauguration, as millions of women joined in simultaneous marches worldwide.

 

The vote also came 45 years after Congress passed the constitutional amendment, a move requiring ratification by three-fourths (38) of states before it became law. That year, 22 states immediately jumped on board; eight states ratified the ERA in 1973, followed by three states in 1974, with only two more states in 1975 and 1977.

 

After the decades-long gap, Nevada was followed by Illinois in 2018, and in January of this year, Virginia became the 38th state, technically making the amendment a reality. However, approval has been stalled because the amendment was introduced with a proposed two-year deadline for state ratification, and five states rescinded approval in the 45 years following their approval. Many credit the #MeToo movement and the election of President Trump with re-invigorating the women’s movement. “[Former President Barack] Obama claimed we were post-racial, but 2016 woke people up,” says Senator Pat Spearman, the democratic Nevada senator who introduced the resolution and who has since championed ratification across the country.

 

Others say, however, a persistent ground game that involved flipping seats and working state by state kept the amendment alive when many thought it had died a quiet death in the late 1970s. “I think the Women’s March helped inject vigor and also turned average people into activists,” says Kate Kelly, a human rights lawyer in the New York office of Equality Now, an international women’s rights organization, and a member of the national ERA Coalition. “Most people said it came out of nowhere, but people had been working on the ground in many states for many years. It just wasn’t getting any attention.”


What Took So Long?

 

While the Nineteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1920, recognized women’s right to vote, it did not make women equal under the law. Further, it was only one strand of a series of demands made by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and abolitionist Lucretia Mott at the historic Seneca Falls Constitutional Convention in 1848 that included a broad list of social and civil rights, such as no-fault divorce and equal marital property rights. The Equal Rights Amendment was authored by Quaker abolitionist Alice Paul in 1923 and revised in 1943.

 

“Paul had a group of women lawyers from every state who analyzed the statutes in each state, and they came up with 350 statutes in 30 different areas of law where there was inequality,” says Tracy Thomas, director of the Center for Constitutional Law at the University of Akron (Ohio) School of Law.

 

According to Thomas, the ERA was met with opposition from the beginning. ERA advocates clashed with the labor movement, which was fighting for minimum wage and workplace safety. “The way they had been successful was by saying that women needed protection because legislators could understand that, so there was the fear that if you said the women were equal to men, nobody would get workplace protection,” Thomas explains.

 


Eventually, those issues faded following the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 and the rise
of the civil rights movement.

July 23, 2020 in Constitutional, Legal History, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 20, 2020

Giving Gender Discrimination a Meaningful Remedy: Rewriting Justice Ginsburg's Opinion in Morales-Santana

I have just published: Tracy Thomas, Rewriting Sessions v. Morales-Santana, in Feminist Judgments: Family Law Opinions Rewritten (Rachel Rebouche ed., July 2020)

In Sessions v. Morales-Santana, 137 S. Ct. 1678 (2017), the Supreme Court in an opinion by Justice Ginsburg struck down a citizenship law that discriminated against children born abroad to US citizens based on whether the citizen was their father or their mother.  The opinion was widely held to be a model of equal protection analysis, documenting the legal history of the Court's gender equal protection law and recognizing the masculinity side of gender discrimination against men.  

However, the opinion was problematic for its refusal to order a meaningful remedy for the petitioner.  The Court did not grant the discrimination victim relief, but instead ordered the government to adopt formally equal rules going forward, and that those rules should be the more stringent rule for fathers. The Court was focused on restraining the government rather than redressing the individual's harm.

I have written about the remedial problem of so-called leveling down unequal treatment to deny the benefit.  Tracy Thomas, Leveling Down Gender Equality,  Harvard J. Law & Gender (2019).

In this book chapter, I apply these criticisms to rewrite the Court's opinion to properly award a meaningful remedy as required by due process.  This book is part of the US Feminist Judgments Project rewriting key court decisions as if they had been informed by feminist theory. 

 

 

 

July 20, 2020 in Books, Constitutional, Family, Masculinities, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Where is God When we Need Her?" Women's Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief as Key to Promoting Gender Equality

Cochav Elkayam-Levy, "Where Is God When We Need Her? Women’s Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief as Key to Promoting Gender Equality"  95, Tulane L. Rev. (forthcoming)


Belief is a fundamental right of every woman. It articulates women's freedom to follow their aims and beliefs and protects their personal autonomy to pursue their chosen faith (be it theistic, non-theistic or atheistic). It also guarantees that women would be able to freely express their diverse opinions, moral convictions and experiences without social or other constraints. Yet this article reveals that women’s belief liberties are a blind spot in human rights law. The right to freedom of religion or belief has thus far been widely viewed by the international community as an obstacle to women's advancement; Among many aspects of this problem, this article considers the implications of the omission of the right to freedom of religion or belief from the Women’s Convention. It shows that states receive little guidance on how to secure this right in ways that also respect the right to gender equality. It also identifies a conflict syndrome by which women are predominantly viewed through the lens of harmful practices. Lastly, it calls attention to the fact that, presently, no state is being systematically supervised for implementing this fundamental right of women. Examining possibilities for change, the article demonstrates that the right of women to gender equality and to freedom of religion or belief are inseparably linked and that international mechanisms protecting women’s belief liberties could tremendously contribute to advancing women’s equal status.

July 20, 2020 in Constitutional, International, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Virtual Conference: The 15th & 19th Amendments on the Anniversary of their Ratifications

Massachusetts Historical Society, “Shall Not Be Denied”: The 15th and 19th Amendments at the Sesquicentennial and Centennial of Their Ratifications

“Shall Not Be Denied”: The 15th and 19th Amendments at the Sesquicentennial and Centennial of their Ratifications, October 12-16, 2020

Registration opens in August!

As a result of ongoing public health concerns, the Massachusetts Historical Society has altered its original plan for an in-person conference in October 2020. Rather than meeting for two days of sessions, we will host the conference panels online between Monday, 12 October and Friday, 16 October 2020. The originally scheduled keynote panel will be postponed until it is safe to hold the event in person at the MHS.

Download Conference Schedule 

The year 2020 marks the anniversaries of two critical amendments to the United States Constitution. Spaced fifty years apart, the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments, ratified in 1870 and 1920, respectively, prohibited the use of race or sex to deny American citizens the franchise. However, the amendments did not prevent states from adopting other methods of discrimination. Viewed as the product of two different movements—abolitionism and the Civil War on the one hand and the Progressive campaigns and the First World War on the other—these two periods and amendments are not often considered together. This conference revisits the long journey to secure voting rights for African Americans and women in United States history. It considers the legal precedents and hurdles that each amendment faced, the meaning and uneven outcomes of each, the social context that allowed for ultimate ratification, the role of key individuals and groups in these respective contexts, and how each amendment has been remembered over time.

At a later date, a keynote panel will feature feature Profs. Alison M. Parker (University of Delaware) and Lisa Tetrault (Carnegie Mellon University) and will be moderated by Prof. Alex Keyssar (Harvard).

July 14, 2020 in Conferences, Constitutional, Legal History, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Guest Blogger Julie Suk on the ERA as a Political Question

Guest Blogger, Julie Suk is Professor of Sociology & Political Science, The Graduate Center - CUNY, and Visiting Professor at Yale Law School.  She is the author of the new book We the Women: The Unstoppable Mothers of the Equal Rights Amendment (forthcoming August 2020). You can follow her @JulieCSuk

 

Julie Suk, The Feminist ERA Worth Fighting For:: A Political Question

Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment earlier this year, one hundred years after the Nineteenth Amendment and nearly fifty years after the ERA was adopted by Congress. My forthcoming book, We the Women, chronicles women’s long battle for the ERA to argue that the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment should be added to the Constitution, despite the passage of roughly forty years after the ratification deadline.

But the procedural path by which the ERA gets saved will shape the ERA’s long-term legitimacy and feminist potential. That is why I filed an amicus brief in the litigation brought by Virginia in pursuit of a judicial declaration of the ERA’s validity, arguing that Congress, not the courts, should decide in the first instance what to do about the ERA ratification deadline. Joined by distinguished constitutional law professors Erwin Chemerinsky, Reva Siegel, and Noah Feldman, our brief applies the logic of Coleman v. Miller, which affirmed Congress’s power over time frames for ratification, and treated the reasonableness of ratification time frames as a nonjusticiable political question. In the lawsuit, the three states that ratified the ERA after the deadline are suing the National Archivist, who refuses to 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.  Virginia claims that Article V does not authorize Congress to impose ratification deadlines on sovereign states. The court has allowed an intervention by states that have not ratified the ERA, or voted to rescind their prior ratifications. In their motion for summary judgment, filed earlier this week, the intervenors urge the court to conclude that “the ERA that Congress proposed in 1972 failed of adoption in 1979 and can no longer be ratified,”and that they possess sovereign power as states to rescind their ratifications. If the court reaches the merits of the intervenor states’ arguments, more members of the sitting federal judiciary, on the DC Circuit and the Roberts Court, will eventually decide the fate of the ERA.

Our amicus brief supports no party, even though Virginia’s goal of a court declaring the ERA to be part of the Constitution now, after a century of struggle, is admittedly enticing for the ERA proponent. But here’s what ERA proponents can gain if Congress votes to removes the deadline first: feminist legislative history that guides its future meaning. This path could take longer, because congressional action to save the ERA might not be accomplished until after November’s election.

Pro-ERA groups like the ERA Coalition have already made incrementally successful efforts to persuade Congress to remove the deadline. In Congress, the House passed a resolution lifting the deadline on ratification in February 2020, 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). The ERA’s long-term legitimacy depends on Congress taking action to remove the deadline before Trump-appointed federal judges take the opportunity to declare the ERA forever expired. 

More importantly, congressional action is more likely to produce the robust ERA that its proponents are fighting for.  As 8 amicus briefs filed by many women’s groups make clear, ERA proponents want the ERA to go farther than judicially-created sex equality under the Equal Protection Clause, to reach pregnancy discrimination, the problems brought to light by the #MeToo movement, and the gender inequities in caregiving and essential work laid bare by the Covid-19 crisis.  They want the U.S. Constitution to learn from gender equality provisions promoting real equality in other constitutional democracies around the world that were adopted after the ERA was proposed. That robust ERA, moving beyond what was intended or imagined in the 1970s, is already being made by lawmakers through legislative hearings and debates about removing the deadline. This overtly political debate will not be part of a judicial decision in a litigation about Article V.

The 116th Congress had record numbers of women and women of color elected. When the House voted in February 2020 to recognize the ERA as valid “whenever ratified” by three-fourths of the states – which occurred when Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA in January, that vote came after two hearings and a floor debate. In April 2019, due largely to the persistent advocacy of the ERA Coalition, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on removing the deadline on the ERA.  In that hearing, constitutional law giant Kathleen Sullivan pointed to the gender equality provisions in constitutions around the world, and called the absence of such a provision in the United States a “national embarrassment.”  In November 2019, the House Judiciary Committee voted to report the ERA deadline removal favorably for a full vote by the House.  Unlike the all-male House Judiciary Committee that reported the ERA out in 1971, nearly one-third of the current committee consists of women. Several women of color on the committee, like Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, explained why the ERA was still needed in the markup hearing.  Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said that the ERA could reach discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, and caregiving responsibilities.  “A vote for the ERA is a vote for families,” she said, countering the 1970s STOP-ERA campaigns depicting the ERA as anti-family.

The House Judiciary Committee’s written report, issued in January 2020, suggested that the ERA

could provide a basis for Congress to engage in affirmative efforts to support gender equality both at home and in the workplace. Additionally, under some theories, the ERA could provide a basis for plaintiffs to challenge laws or policies that have a disparate impact on women, or support efforts to create gender balance in certain contexts.  Additionally, the ERA's prohibition against discrimination “on account of sex” could be interpreted to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In the floor debate leading to the House’s vote to lift the deadline, several Congresswomen from various states, ranging in age, race, and ethnic background, spoke to give the ERA meaning, including some who opposed it.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the ERA would help protect pregnant women and new mothers who were in the workforce.  Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim woman ever elected to Congress, said that the ERA was “about women of color, women with disabilities, transgender women, immigrant women.” In both the Judiciary Committee report and the floor debate, ERA opponents expressed the fear that the ERA would expand abortion access, to which Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler responded, “If people on the other side want to admit that equality of rights under the law means there must be a constitutional right to abortion, well, that is wonderful.“ Congress – the lawmaking body of democratically elected representatives from throughout the nation – is the only institution that can make the ERA address twenty-first century concerns, as new constitutional meanings emerge from dynamic dialogue with the political opposition.

In the Senate, Republican Lisa Murkowski has cosponsored S.J. 6, lifting the ERA deadline, along with Democrat Ben Cardin.  The Senate resolution now has 48 cosponsors.  On June 4, 2020, Senator Murkowski recognized the 101st anniversary of the Senate’s adoption of the women’s suffrage amendment. She pointed to Virginia’s ratification of the ERA and urged her Senate colleagues to remove the deadline. “I have asserted time and again . . . that you cannot put a time limit on women’s equality. . . Women’s equality is fundamental to the American way of life, and it is far past time to be expressly recognized in the Constitution.” In that same speech, she acknowledged the persistence of racial injustice and its connection to the struggle for women’s equality: “Today, June 4, is not only a recognition of women’s suffrage, but it is the funeral of George Floyd.”

Congressional efforts to remove the ratification deadline create opportunities for lawmakers to articulate why the ERA remains necessary and what its twenty-first century goals are. Congressional completion of ERA ratification will make the contributions of women lawmakers part of the twenty-first century ERA’s legislative history.  A judicial decision about the ratification deadline simply can’t do the feminist heavy lifting that the women in Congress are doing.  In 1978, women in Congress led the first extension of the ERA deadline, and clarified the ERA’s goals in those debates.  In the past year, as it debated the deadline removal, Congress has been at the center of updating the ERA to respond to the twenty-first century needs of all the nation’s people.  These meanings will become part of the ERA if Congress acts to remove the deadline.

July 14, 2020 in Books, Constitutional, Guest Bloggers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

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)

Monday, July 6, 2020

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)

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)

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

How Courts Have Responded to Equal Protection Claims of Pregnant Citizens Since the Nineteenth Amendment

Reva Siegel, The Pregnant Citizen, from Suffrage to the Present, Georgetown L. J. (forthcoming)

This Article examines how courts have responded to the equal protection claims of pregnant citizens over the century women were enfranchised. The lost history it recovers shows how equal protection changed—initially allowing government to enforce traditional family roles by exempting laws regulating pregnancy from close review, then over time subjecting laws regulating pregnancy to heightened equal protection scrutiny.

It is generally assumed that the Supreme Court’s 1974 decision in Geduldig v. Aiello insulates the regulation of pregnancy from equal protection scrutiny. The Article documents the traditional sex-role understandings Geduldig preserved and then demonstrates how the Supreme Court itself has limited the decision’s authority.

In particular, I show that the Rehnquist Court integrated laws regulating pregnancy into the equal protection sex-discrimination framework. In United States v. Virginia, the Supreme Court analyzed a law mandating the accommodation of pregnancy as classifying on the basis of sex and subject to heightened scrutiny; Virginia directs judges to look to history in enforcing the Equal Protection Clause to ensure that laws regulating pregnancy are not “used, as they once were . . . to create or perpetuate the legal, social, and economic inferiority of women.” In Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs, the Court then applied the antistereotyping principle to laws regulating pregnancy, as a growing number of commentators and courts have observed.

I conclude the Article by considering how courts and Congress might enforce the rights in Virginia and Hibbs in cases involving pregnancy under both the Fourteenth and the Nineteenth Amendments. To remedy law-driven sex-role stereotyping that has shaped the workplace, the household, and politics, the Article proposes that Congress adopt legislation mandating the reasonable accommodation of pregnant employees, such as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. These sex-role stereotypes affect all workers, but exact the greatest toll on low-wage workers and workers of color who are subject to rigid managerial supervision.

When we locate equal protection cases in history, we can see how an appeal to biology can enforce traditional sex roles as it did in Geduldig—and see why a court invoking Geduldig today to insulate the regulation of pregnancy from scrutiny under Virginia and Hibbs would not respect stare decisis, but instead retreat from core principles of the equal protection sex-discrimination case law.

June 9, 2020 in Constitutional, Legal History, Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Strong Public Support for the ERA, Except for the Insurance Industry

Carrie Baker, Ms., Reports of the ERA's Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

This is the final installment in a six-part series examining the half-century fight to add women to the U.S. Constitution—and a game plan on where we go from here.

Get caught up:

But today, despite resistance from Republicans in Congress and from the Trump administration, public support for the ERA is currently sky-high: The American Bar Association’s (ABA) 2020 Survey of Civic Literacy showed that a wide majority of respondents—83 percent—believe the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) should be ratified and incorporated into the U.S. Constitution. Only 8 percent opposed.

“That’s a powerful statement about what the public believes in,” said ABA president Judy Perry Martinez, for it “tells us is that Americans believe in equal rights for women and they know that until those words are in our Constitution, those equal rights will not in fact be believed and achieved by all.”

But, just like in the initial push for the ERA in the 1970s, opposition from business interests, especially the insurance industry, are ERA enemy number one.

“‘Women’s equality’ is not just words,” Smeal says. “It means real things, especially in the area of money. It means you have to stop discriminating against women in employment and in annuities, life insurance and health insurance. It involves billions and billions of dollars.”

Of course, earlier this year, under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House of Representatives voted to remove the arbitrary time line for the ERA with a bipartisan 232–183 vote.

“With this resolution, we take a giant step toward equality for women, progress for families and a stronger America—because we know when women succeed, America succeeds,” Pelosi said at a press conference ahead of the vote.

Meaning this fall, all eyes will be on the Senate.

May 27, 2020 in Constitutional, Legal History, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Court Strikes Down Florida Felon Pay-to-Vote Law, but Rejects 19th Amendment Claim of Gender Discrimination

Press Release, In a Victory for Voting Rights, Federal Court Rules that Florida's Pay-to-Vote System is Unconstitutional 

The full opinion is here: Jones v. DeSantis (N.D. Fla. 2020)

I want to think more about the new opinion from a federal district court dismissing women voters claims under the 19th Amendment.  Two issues strike me on an initial read.

1.  The court says there is no reason to treat the 19th differently from the 15th or 14th.  This conclusion results in requiring an intentional state of mind for gender discrimination under the 19th Amendment.  The standard of discriminatory purpose is a requirement of proving gender discrimination under the 14th Amendment, and the court says also for the 15th.  However, reading in the historical context may raise a question here.  SCOTUS explicitly held in Minor v. Happersett (1874) that the 14th Amendment did not apply to women's state voting rights.  Reading the 14th Amendment standards into the 19th, seems to do just this.  There is also some significant history on the 19th A itself that might suggest a different conclusion.

2.  It is troubling the court discounts the gender discrimination claim by focusing on the impact on men.   The court notes that more men than women are felons, so more men generally are impacted by the law.  Rather than comparing the two groups similarly situated -- felons -- and then addressing the discrimination against those women felons.  This focus on men, rather than the women plaintiffs in a case, was also seen recently in the US Women's Soccer pay discrimination case.  It may represent an emerging litigation trend of dismissing, both legally and socially, women's claims of disparate impact.  

Here is the court's 19th Amendment claim analysis:

XII. Gender Discrimination


The McCoy plaintiffs assert the pay-to-vote requirement discriminates against women in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and violates the Nineteenth Amendment, which provides that a citizen’s right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged . . . on account of sex.”

 

To prevail under the Fourteenth Amendment, the plaintiffs must show intentional gender discrimination—that is, the plaintiffs must show that gender was a motivating factor in the adoption of the pay-to-vote system. This is the same standard that applies to race discrimination, as addressed above.


The plaintiffs assert the Nineteenth Amendment should be read more liberally, but the better view is that the standards are the same. The Nineteenth Amendment was an effort to put women on the same level as men with respect to voting, just as the Fifteenth Amendment was an effort to put African American men on the same level as white men. Indeed, the Nineteenth Amendment copied critical language from the Fifteenth, which provides that a citizen’s right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged . . . on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” As is settled, a claim under the Fifteenth Amendment requires the same showing of intentional discrimination as the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. See, e.g., Burton v. City of Belle Glade, 178 F.3d 1175, 1187 n.8 (11th Cir. 1999) (stating “vote dilution, vote denial, and traditional race discrimination claims arising under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments all require proof of intentional discrimination”). In sum, there is no reason to read the Nineteenth Amendment differently from the Fifteenth.

 

On the facts, the plaintiffs’ theory is that women with felony convictions, especially those who have served prison sentences, are less likely than men to obtain employment and, when employed at all, are likely to be paid substantially less than men.  The problem is even worse for African American women. This pattern is not limited to felons; it is true in the economy at large.

 

As a result, a woman with LFOs is less likely than a man with the same LFOs to be able to pay them. This means the pay-to-vote requirement is more likely to render a given woman ineligible to vote than an identically situated man.

 

This does not, however, establish intentional discrimination. Instead, this is in effect, an assertion that the pay-to-vote requirement has a disparate impact on women. For gender discrimination, as for race discrimination, see supra Section IX, disparate impact is relevant to, but without more does not establish, intentional discrimination. Here there is nothing more—no direct or circumstantial evidence of gender bias, and no reason to believe gender had anything to do with the adoption of Amendment 4, the enactment of SB7066, or the State’s implementation of this system.

 

Moreover, the pay-to-vote requirement renders many more men than women ineligible to vote. This is so because men are disproportionately represented among felons. As a result, even though the impact on a given woman with LFOs is likely to be greater than the impact on a given man with the same LFOs, the pay-to-vote
requirement overall has a disparate impact on men, not women. Even if disparate impact was sufficient to establish a constitutional violation, the plaintiffs would not prevail on their gender claim.

 

May 26, 2020 in Constitutional, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 22, 2020

"Jane Roe" from Roe v. Wade Retracts Anti-Abortion Conversion in Posthumous Documentary, "AKA Jane Roe"

Michelle Goldberg, Jane Roe's Pro-Life Conversion Was a Con

It was a cultural coup for the right when McCorvey publicly turned against legal abortion. Jane Roe rejecting Roe v. Wade was something abortion opponents could throw in the faces of pro-choice activists. So it is a bombshell that McCorvey has revealed, in the posthumous new documentary “AKA Jane Roe,” that it was, at least in some sense, an act. “I am a good actress,” she said.

 

The movie, which debuts on Friday on FX, also makes clear that anti-abortion leaders understood this. They’ve been perpetrating a scam on us all for 25 years.

 
In the documentary’s final 20 minutes, McCorvey, who died of heart failure in 2017, gives what she calls her “deathbed confession.” She and the pro-life movement, she said, were using each other: “I took their money, and they put me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say, and that’s what I’d say.”
 

In her career as a pro-life icon, she collected nearly half a million dollars. But at the end of her life, she once again affirmed a belief in the right to abortion, and evinced pride in Roe v. Wade. “Roe isn’t going anywhere,” she said early on election night in 2016, when she thought Hillary Clinton was going to win. “They can try, but it’s not happening, baby.”***

 

Given the political damage done by her cynical about-face, it’s surprising how sympathetic McCorvey — campy, foul-mouthed and irreverent — comes off. She was a lost soul from a traumatic background. Her father was absent and her mother beat her, and she ended up in reform school after running away from home at 10. She entered an abusive marriage at 16, became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and lost custody of her first child.

 
As she’s told the story, she signed up as the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade not because she wanted to make history but because she was desperate for an abortion. She never got one: By the time the case was decided, she’d given birth and put the baby up for adoption.

 

Later, McCorvey resented not being given a more prominent role as a pro-choice activist. The movement found her embarrassing, especially when, in 1987, she admitted that she’d lied when she’d said the pregnancy at the heart of Roe was a result of rape.***

 

“She was not the poster girl that would have been helpful to the pro-choice movement,” Charlotte Taft, a former director of the Abortion Care Network, says in the film. “However, an articulate, educated person could not have been the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade.” It was women like McCorvey — those without the resources to travel to pro-choice states — who endured forced childbirth in the years before Roe was decided. “People who are plaintiffs in cases are usually messy people,” said Kissling.

 

Many of the headlines about “AKA Jane Roe” have emphasized that McCorvey was paid to renounce abortion rights, but after watching it I don’t think it was all about money. McCorvey wanted respect and attention, to be honored and cherished. At times, people in the pro-choice movement tried to help her; for a while she was represented by the feminist superlawyer Gloria Allred. She made money giving speeches and selling the rights to her story, including for an Emmy-winning made-for-TV movie.

May 22, 2020 in Abortion, Constitutional, Pop Culture, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Papers from the Feminist Legal Theory Research Network at Next Week's Law & Society Association Virtual Meeting

I am probably one of the few people in the world who is thrilled that the Law & Society Annual Conference is virtual -- since I will now be able to attend.  In general virtual conferences open up access to some barriers to participation due to finances,  travel, family, disability, and health issues.

You can register for the virtual conference here at the Law & Society Association website.  

Scheduled papers to be presented from the Feminist Legal Theory Research Network:

 

Time

Title

Type

Wed, 5/27
1:00 PM - 2:45 PM

#MeToo: The Narrative of Resistance Meets the Rule of Law

Plenary Session 

Thu, 5/28
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Moving Rules: Struggles for Reproductive Justice on Uneven Terrain

Paper Session 

Thu, 5/28
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Sexual Harassment: Victims and Survivors

Paper Session 

Thu, 5/28
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

CRN07: Feminist Legal Theory Business Meeting

Business Meeting 

Thu, 5/28
2:15 PM - 4:00 PM

Families, Laws, and Institutions

Paper Session 

Thu, 5/28
2:15 PM - 4:00 PM

The State and Violence: New Proposals for Stopping the Cycle

Paper Session 

Fri, 5/29
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Normativity in Men, Women, and Bodies

Paper Session 

Fri, 5/29
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

The Politicization of Safety: Critical Perspectives on Domestic Violence Responses

Roundtable Session 

Fri, 5/29
1:00 PM - 2:15 PM

Sexual Harassers, Sex Crimes, and Accountability

Paper Session 

Fri, 5/29
4:00 PM - 5:45 PM

Women's Rights in the Shadow of the Constitution

Paper Session 

Sat, 5/30
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Perspectives on Sex, Work and New Legal Orders

Paper Session 

Sat, 5/30
1:00 PM - 2:45 PM

Trans and Queer Life in Private and Public

Paper Session 

Sat, 5/30
4:00 PM - 5:45 PM

Human Rights in an Unequal World: Autonomy, Status, and Other Stories

Paper Session 

Sun, 5/31
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Feminist Legal Theory in a Public/Private World

Paper Session 

Sun, 5/31
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Laws of Social Reproduction

Paper Session 

Sun, 5/31
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Intimate Lies and the Law

Author Meets Reader (AMR) Session 

Sun, 5/31
2:15 PM - 4:00 PM

Feminist Judgments on Reproductive Justice and Family Law

Roundtable Session 

Sun, 5/31
2:15 PM - 4:00 PM

Women and Gender in Private, Public, and Places in Between: Old Doctrines Meet New Realities in the Twenty-First Century

Paper Session 

May 20, 2020 in Conferences, Constitutional, Equal Employment, Family, Masculinities, Reproductive Rights, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Video: Voting Rights in a Time of Pandemic, Thinking About Women's Suffrage and the 1918 Spanish Flu

Kimberly Hamlin, Laptop Lecture Series: Voting Rights in a Time of Pandemic

Have a minute? Check out today’s Laptop Lecture “Voting Rights in a Time of Pandemic” by Kimberly Hamlin, Associate Professor of History and American Studies, which explores how the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic complicated suffragist efforts to pass the 19th Amendment in the House.

 

May 12, 2020 in Constitutional, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump Administration Seeks to Dismiss Lawsuit to Certify ERA

Trump Administration Asks Court to Toss Lawsuit Over ERA

The Trump administration has asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit filed by three Democratic state attorneys general seeking to force the U.S. archivist to recognize Virginia’s vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and adopt it in the U.S. Constitution.

 

Virginia became the 38th and final state needed to make the ERA part of the Constitution in January, after the General Assembly passed and ratified the amendment.

 

Attorney General Mark Herring sued David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States, after the National Archives and Record Administration said Ferriero would “take no action” to certify the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment. Herring was joined in the lawsuit by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, the attorneys general of ratifying states number 36 and 37.**

 

On Thursday, the Trump administration asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that ratification is not an issue to be decided by the courts.

 

In a memo supporting the motion to dismiss, Assistant Attorney General Joseph Hunt said the Supreme Court held nearly a century ago that Congress may set a deadline for the ratification of constitutional amendments so that the contemporaneous will of the people is reflected in the amendments.

 

Herring and other attorneys general argue that the deadline — first set for 1979 and later extended to 1982 — is not binding.

 

The administration argues that the three states ratified the ERA decades after Congress’ ratification deadline and are asking the court to mandate that the archivist certify the ERA.

 

“But that request is contrary to Supreme Court precedent prohibiting courts from second-guessing the legislature’s inclusion of a deadline for ratification,” they argued.

 

In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the attorneys general argue that a proposed constitutional amendment automatically becomes valid as part of the Constitution as soon as it is ratified by the legislatures of three-quarters of the states, or 38. They also argue that the archivist’s duty to certify the amendment is “mandatory and purely ministerial.”

May 12, 2020 in Constitutional, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)