Monday, June 10, 2024

Abrams & Potts on "The Rhetoric of Abortion in Amicus Briefs"

I have published The Rhetoric of Abortion in Amicus Briefs with the University of Missouri Law Review. The work is in Volume 89 at page 399. Here is the abstract: 

The amicus briefs filed in landmark abortion cases before the U.S. Supreme Court serve as a barometer revealing how various constituencies talk about abortion, women, fetuses, physicians, rights, and harms over time. This article conducts an interdisciplinary legal-linguistic study of the amicus briefs that were filed in the milestone abortion cases of Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health. As the first large-scale study of all amicus briefs submitted in these key cases, this article identifies the roles of amicus briefs, analyzes their rhetorical strategies, and describes how their authors engage with the Court. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, the study reveals how the discursive construction of the pregnant person, fetus, physician, and abortion as a right have evolved over fifty years and shows why these shifts matter. In so doing, this study offers historical perspectives into evolving arguments in abortion litigation, contemporaneous insights into the status of polarized abortion politics, and future implications for amicus activity and abortion advocacy.

June 10, 2024 in Abortion, Constitutional, Courts, Gender, Healthcare, Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 6, 2024

Sweeny and Canon on "The Language of Love v. Beshear"

JoAnne Sweeny and Dan Canon have published The Language of Love v. Beshear: Telling a Client's Story While Creating a Civil Rights Case Narrative in volume 17 of the Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors. The article was shared on SSRN here. The Introduction is excerpted here: 

We tend to think of a good lawyer as being a vigorous, focused advocate, one who thinks first and foremost of the interests, needs, and desires of their clients. But what if the client’s case will affect an entire group of people; a group who may also seek to have its collective rights vindicated? This is the dilemma of the civil rights attorney—how does an effective advocate balance the specific needs of the client with the broader, long-term needs of the group the client represents? And who should have a say in what story is told on behalf of the client? In civil rights cases, it is not just the client, but activists, organizations, academics, and the media who have a stake in the outcome. How much of a say should they have in the creation of a litigation story that will most directly impact a single client? How are those stories crafted? With careless, blunt-force litigation, or with purposefulness? And does it matter who gets to tell the story?

 

* * *


Focusing on the Kentucky case, Love v. Beshear, this article shows how civil rights attorneys may be constrained by their dual roles—advisors to their clients and advocates for civil rights—and how they decide what story to tell to remain true to their clients’ needs while keeping engaged with the larger civil rights issues inherent in these impact litigation cases. Moreover, once the litigation has begun, the other players—organizations, media, even the judges themselves—can change the story, highlighting what they see fit. The ultimate story of who a lawyer’s clients are ultimately may not be up to the lawyer or the client.  

 

It concludes: 

 

Obergefell built a bridge to same-sex marriage, creating solid ground for the next group of civil rights lawyers
to again expand our understanding of what relationships and “equal dignity” really mean. As the country’s understanding of same-sex couples has evolved, so has the array of stories that lawyers can tell about groups that may be insular or unfamiliar to the broader public. For example, now that transgender, bisexual, nonbinary, and polyamorous people’s stories are becoming more mainstream, their stories can be used to champion a broader understanding (and legal recognition) of fundamental rights. This continuous opening of new chapters to familiar stories is the essence of civil rights advocacy.

May 6, 2024 in Courts, Gender, Judges, Legal History, Same-sex marriage, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Ethical and Practical Significance of Narratives in Court Cases

Sharon Bassan, Implicit Narratives About Women, Drexel University, Research Paper Series, forthcoming 

In the dynamic landscape of legal academia, narrative analysis emerges as a captivating and essential avenue of exploration. Narratives shape laws, policies, and societal norms, urging readers to recognize the profound influence of stories in the often-overlooked realms of legal discourse. Yet, the realm of storytelling, particularly within the nuanced sphere of court rulings, often goes unnoticed. The article takes the reader on an intellectual journey, delving into the intricate world where legal, ethical, and feminist perspectives converge with the power of storytelling, where narratives wield transformative power. It offers critical reading of the rhetoric and narratives in two legal cases that address the constitutionality of restricted access to reproductive practices. The first, a Supreme Court ruling from Israel, establishes the eligibility of same-sex couples and single men for domestic surrogacy services after years of ineligibility. The second, the ruling of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. At first glance, it may seem like another article on reproductive technologies. Well, it isn’t. The article contends that the narratives woven within legal proceedings are not mere rhetorical devices but wield ethical and practical significance. Focusing on the importance of the narrative in court and what they imply about women in society the article carves out the implicit image of women as implied by the narratives in the courts’ ruling and considers the rulings’ potential to affect women’s life opportunities. This analysis serves as a methodological tool to uncover the underlying values, assumptions, and narratives that courts both rely upon and, perhaps more significantly, dismiss.

Findings expose tensions between women’s rights and life opportunities and competing interests – those of single men to be parents (in the Israeli case) and those of fetuses (in the Dobbs case). The analysis shows a similar use of narratives in both contexts - systematically downplaying women’s interests, restricting their opportunities and minimizing their autonomy. The realistic analysis advocated for in the article emphasizes the imperative of adopting a women-focused narrative when discussing reproductive practices performed on women's bodies. The failure to do so, the article argues, carries far-reaching ramifications on women's experiences and life opportunities. Lessons from both cases are relevant to ongoing and future advocacy fights, and the future implications they entail.

April 23, 2024 in Courts, Family, Gender, Reproductive Rights, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Ethical and Practical Significance of Using Feminist Narratives in Court Cases

Sharon Bassan, Implicit Narratives About Women, Drexel University, Research Paper Series, forthcoming 

In the dynamic landscape of legal academia, narrative analysis emerges as a captivating and essential avenue of exploration. Narratives shape laws, policies, and societal norms, urging readers to recognize the profound influence of stories in the often-overlooked realms of legal discourse. Yet, the realm of storytelling, particularly within the nuanced sphere of court rulings, often goes unnoticed. The article takes the reader on an intellectual journey, delving into the intricate world where legal, ethical, and feminist perspectives converge with the power of storytelling, where narratives wield transformative power. It offers critical reading of the rhetoric and narratives in two legal cases that address the constitutionality of restricted access to reproductive practices. The first, a Supreme Court ruling from Israel, establishes the eligibility of same-sex couples and single men for domestic surrogacy services after years of ineligibility. The second, the ruling of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. At first glance, it may seem like another article on reproductive technologies. Well, it isn’t. The article contends that the narratives woven within legal proceedings are not mere rhetorical devices but wield ethical and practical significance. Focusing on the importance of the narrative in court and what they imply about women in society the article carves out the implicit image of women as implied by the narratives in the courts’ ruling and considers the rulings’ potential to affect women’s life opportunities. This analysis serves as a methodological tool to uncover the underlying values, assumptions, and narratives that courts both rely upon and, perhaps more significantly, dismiss.

Findings expose tensions between women’s rights and life opportunities and competing interests – those of single men to be parents (in the Israeli case) and those of fetuses (in the Dobbs case). The analysis shows a similar use of narratives in both contexts - systematically downplaying women’s interests, restricting their opportunities and minimizing their autonomy. The realistic analysis advocated for in the article emphasizes the imperative of adopting a women-focused narrative when discussing reproductive practices performed on women's bodies. The failure to do so, the article argues, carries far-reaching ramifications on women's experiences and life opportunities. Lessons from both cases are relevant to ongoing and future advocacy fights, and the future implications they entail.

April 23, 2024 in Courts, Family, Gender, Reproductive Rights, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 12, 2024

Book Feminized Justice: The Story of the Toronto Women's Courts 1913-1934

I came across this book as part of my research on the history of Women's Courts, and thought it was worth a share. 

Amanda Glasbeek, Feminized Justice: The Toronto Women's Court, 1913-1914 

In 1913, Toronto launched Canada’s first woman’s police court. The court was run by and for women, but was it a great achievement? This multifaceted portrait of the cases, defendants, and officials that graced its halls reveals a fundamental contradiction at the experiment’s core: the Toronto Women’s Police Court was both a site for feminist adaptations of justice and a court empowered to punish women. Reconstructed from case files and newspaper accounts, this engrossing portrait of the trials and tribulations that accompanied an early experiment in feminized justice sheds new light on maternal feminist politics, women and crime, and the role of resistance, agency, and experience in the criminal justice system.

Feminized Justice: The Toronto Women's Court, 1913-34 (Law and Society)

 

 

April 12, 2024 in Courts, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 8, 2024

Rachel Rebouché on "Facts on Trial: Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA and the Battle over Mailed Medication Abortion"

Rachel Rebouché has published "Facts on Trial: Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA and the Battle over Mailed Medication Abortion" in Volume 95 of the Colorado Law Review. The article concludes: 

April 8, 2024 in Abortion, Courts, Healthcare, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

NYT Coverage of Brenda Andrew's Case and Submitted Sex Stereotyping Amicus Brief

Adam Liptak of the New York Times wrote on April 1st covering Brenda Andrew's case before the Supreme Court. The article, titled Did Prosecutors’ Sex Shaming Help Send Brenda Andrew to Death Row?, included a cite to the amicus brief previously covered by this Blog and available here. The article cites one of Andrew's lawyers stating: 

Every single day the state was presenting gendered evidence about her appearance, about her clothing, about her sexual practices, about her skills as a mother,” she said. “We’ve got someone who is at risk of execution for not conforming to gender stereotypes.

The Supreme Court is deciding whether to hear the case. The questions on certiorari are excerpted below from the full opinion

  1. Whether clearly established federal law as determined by this Court forbids the prosecution’s use of a woman’s plainly irrelevant sexual history, gender presentation, and role as a mother and wife to assess guilt and punishment.
  2. Whether this Court should summarily reverse in light of cumulative effect of the errors in this case at guilt and sentencing, including the introduction of a custodial statement made without the warnings Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) requires.

April 8, 2024 in Courts, Gender, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

SCOTUS to Consider Whether Gender Bias and Sex Shaming Contributed to Death Penalty Conviction

NY Times, Did Prosecutors' Sex Shaming Help Send Brenda Andrew to Death Row?

*** 

Later this month, the Supreme Court will consider whether to hear Ms. Andrew’s appeal, which said the display of her underwear was a representative part of an unrelenting strategy by prosecutors, as a dissenting judge put it, “of introducing evidence that has no purpose other than to hammer home that Brenda Andrew is a bad wife, a bad mother and a bad woman.”

Nathalie Greenfield, one of Ms. Andrew’s lawyers, said gender stereotypes infected the trial and poisoned the jury.

“Every single day the state was presenting gendered evidence about her appearance, about her clothing, about her sexual practices, about her skills as a mother,” she said. “We’ve got someone who is at risk of execution for not conforming to gender stereotypes.” ***

“Gender bias is normalized and tolerated to an extent that racial bias no longer is in the administration of the death penalty,” said Sandra Babcock, a law professor at Cornell who represents Ms. Andrew in a related case. “Women on trial for capital murder have been subjected to similar shaming tactics for hundreds of years.”

In urging the Supreme Court not to hear the case, Andrew v. White, No. 23-6573, prosecutors said almost nothing to justify using evidence about Ms. Andrew’s appearance and sexuality. They argued instead that it was “but a drop in the ocean” in the case against her. State and federal appeals courts have more or less agreed, suggesting that the prosecutors’ presentation was regrettable but that there was ample evidence of Ms. Andrew’s guilt

See Supreme Court Amicus Brief Argues Brenda Andrew's Capital Murder Case Used Prejudicial "Sexualized Evidence", Gender & the Law Blog.

April 2, 2024 in Constitutional, Courts, Gender, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 1, 2024

New Report on Harms of Michigan's Forced Parental Consent Law for Abortion

A new report is available on the harms of Michigan's forced parental consent law. The report was authored by the ACLU of Michigan, Human Rights Watch, and the Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health after in-depth interviews, data analysis, and a survey of secondary sources. The full report is available here

Its findings are excerpted here: 

Young people who can, do involve a parent in an abortion decision and care. While most young people do talk to a parent when facing a pregnancy, every situation is different, and not every young person can.

Young people who do not involve their parents have compelling reasons, rooted in their safety and well-being. They often fear abuse, alienation, or being forced to continue a pregnancy against their will.

Some young people are belittled, humiliated, or punished by their parents. Some parents even ask doctors to withhold pain medication for young people’s procedural abortions, against medical advice.

Judicial bypass is burdensome and difficult to navigate. For young people without resources or access to information, it can be impossible.

Judicial bypass is invasive, distressing, traumatizing, and often arbitrary. It feels punitive to young people, and may be especially harmful to young people of color.

Forced parental consent delays abortion care. Judicial bypass often delays care by a week or more, limiting patients’ already constrained and time-sensitive healthcare options and pushing them into more expensive and invasive procedures. In some cases, the delays caused by navigating forced parental consent and judicial bypass leave young people ineligible for medication abortion, a noninvasive and more common method of care, available only up to 11 weeks of pregnancy.

Young people are capable of making healthcare decisions. Michigan law allows young people to consent to all other forms of pregnancy-related health care — including those with significantly higher health risks than abortion — such as a C-section.

The Report recommends that "[a]ll young people should be safe and healthy. Michigan should invest in solutions that promote healthy families and strong healthcare networks and keep private family conversations free from intrusive laws and policies." It asks the Michigan legislature to "[r]epeal the Parental Rights Restoration Act 211 of 1990 as a matter of urgency and ensure that young people under 18 can access abortion care without being forced to involve a parent or legal guardian, or a judge, in their decision-making."

April 1, 2024 in Abortion, Courts, Healthcare, Legislation, Pregnancy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 18, 2024

Hillel Bavli on "Stereotypes as Evidence"

Hillel Bavli has published a draft of Stereotypes as Evidence on SSRN. This article is forthcoming in volume 77 of the Stanford Law Review in 2025. It analyzes how the admission of profile evidence "involves substantial risks for the aims of fairness and equal treatment based on race, gender, economic status, and other personal characteristics."

Baserate evidence connects a defendant to an act through the defendant’s membership in a certain population. It includes evidence arising from forensic analysis, criminal profiling, statistical analysis, artificial intelligence, and many other common and emerging scientific methods. But while this evidence is prevalent in civil and criminal trials, it is poorly understood, and there is little predictability in how a court will decide its admissibility or even what standard the court will apply.

 

In this article, I show that although some forms of baserate evidence are desirable and even critical to achieving an accurate case outcome, a common form of baserate evidence called profile evidence constitutes unrecognized character evidence—evidence that a defendant acted in accordance with a certain character trait and that is prohibited by federal and state evidentiary rules. To show this, and to describe precisely the relationship between baserate evidence and character evidence, I draw on an area of statistics called Bayesian inference to define a new concept that I call population-propensity evidence. It describes a behavioral propensity of a population to suggest that an individual member of the population acted in accordance with this propensity. I show that this evidence—a form of baserate evidence that involves behavioral stereotyping—relies on impermissible character reasoning and therefore determines whether baserate evidence constitutes character evidence.

 

Finally, I discuss critical implications of my analysis. First, I show how an understanding of population-propensity evidence contributes descriptively to resolving longstanding confusion and inconsistency surrounding baserate evidence and profile evidence in particular. I then demonstrate that applying the rule against character evidence to determine the admissibility of profile evidence is essential to achieving correct and predictable evidentiary decisions, to minimizing the influence of implicit biases based on race and other personal characteristics of a defendant, and to reaching accurate verdicts.

 

March 18, 2024 in Courts, Judges, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Laura Portuondo on "Gendered Liberty"

Laura Portuondo has posted Gendered Liberty on SSRN. This article is forthcoming in the Georgetown Law Review in 2024. The abstract previews: 

Individual liberty is ascendant in constitutional law, but only for some. First Amendment doctrine has increasingly protected liberty interests in conduct linked to conscientious identity, as exemplified by newly successful claims to religious exemptions from antidiscrimination law. This contrasts with shrinking Fourteenth Amendment protections for liberty interests in conduct linked to gender identity, as exemplified by the recently eliminated right to abortion and imperiled rights to contraception, marriage, and sexual intimacy. More muscular protections for conscientious liberty have diminished even statutory protections for gender-related conduct. The result is a liberty jurisprudence that increasingly protects conservative religious objectors, even as it increasingly dismisses marginalized gender groups. This Article argues that this disparity is neither a requirement of constitutional doctrine nor an extension of a neutral theory of liberty. Instead, it emerges from a gendered theory of liberty: one that protects the freedom to enforce traditional ideas about gender and denies the freedom to challenge them.

By describing gendered liberty, this Article shows that the fall of liberty under the Fourteenth Amendment and its rise under the First Amendment are symbiotic. These doctrines work together to launder controversial judgments about the value of gender nonconformity into seemingly neutral stories about liberty. In doing so, they permit the Supreme Court to subordinate the autonomy and self-determination of those who would defy gender stereotypes to that of those who would enforce gender stereotypes. More importantly, they permit the Supreme Court to deny that it is engaged in a project of subordination at all. This Article resists these claims of neutrality and the stories about liberty they rely on by showing that liberty includes those who do not conform to gendered expectations.

March 18, 2024 in Constitutional, Courts, Gender, Reproductive Rights, Same-sex marriage, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 11, 2024

Maybell Romero on "Shamed"

Maybell Romero has posted a draft work-in-progress on SSRN titled "Shamed." The abstract previews: 

Victims of rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse have long had to contend with victim blaming and victim shaming. While legal scholars have had fruitful and theoretically engaging debates regarding the validity and merits of using shaming sanctions and shaming criminal defendants, there has been precious little written about the shame that victims face, let alone a recognition that their interaction with shame as both a social force and emotion is multidimensional. In a previous piece titled “Ruined”, I examined the language judges use during sentencing hearings in sexual assault cases to describe victims, such as pronouncing them “broken,” “ruined,” or “destroyed.” This Article serves as a continuation of the inquiry I started in “Ruined” by expanding in focus. It seeks to differentiate between the related concepts of shame and stigma and explain why shaming of rape victims is so common. I propose a novel typology with which to examine a rape victim’s experience and separate the shame that victims are made to feel by the criminal adjudicative process, the shame victims are supposed to perform, and the shame victims are supposed to feel into discrete components to consider, revealing that shame in relation to such victims is multilayered and much more complex than legal scholarship has made it out to be.

I share my own experiences with each of these manifestations of shame to demonstrate the usefulness of my new typology, but I also relate how I have felt ashamed to come forward with my story as a practicing attorney as well as my experiences of being shamed in the legal academy. I conclude, however, with a note of optimism, reflecting on the positive things to have come with my very public self-disclosure of being a rape and sexual abuse victim and hoping to encourage others to employ personal narrative and autoethnographic methods in their own scholarship, as well.

March 11, 2024 in Courts, Violence Against Women, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 4, 2024

Siegel and Ziegler on "Abortion-Eugenics Discourse in Dobbs: A Social Movement History"

Reva Siegel and Mary Ziegler have posted Abortion-Eugenics Discourse in Dobbs: A Social Movement History on SSRN. It is forthcoming in volume 2 of the Journal of American Constitutional History in 2024. Here is the abstract.

 

Black Americans have long debated whether birth control and abortion threaten or uplift the community. In this Essay, we show that antiabortion advocates have intervened these debates by associating abortion with eugenics. For decades, antiabortion advocates have blamed racially disparate abortion rates on intentional discrimination—often highlighting a shadowy figure named Margaret Sanger—rather than explaining the disparity as resulting from structural racism. We follow this abortion-is-eugenic argument from the streets to the pages of the United States Reports, where it appears in the much-studied 2019 decision of Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana & Kentucky and in the Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Antiabortion advocates have developed a constitutional memory of "Sanger" to suggest that criminalizing abortion is necessary to achieving racial justice. We demonstrate how that memory is mobilized in constitutional law and politics to legitimize reproductive coercion and to deflect attention from the structural roots of racial disparities in abortion rates today—conditions for which laws criminalizing abortion provide no relief.

March 4, 2024 in Abortion, Courts, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kenya Court Affirmed the Right to Respectful Maternal Care

The Center for Reproductive Rights reports on a victory in Kenya's Court of Appeals. The facts of the case are excerpted from the opinion here: 

a. She was admitted to the hospital – and the hospital was overstretched to the extent that she had to share a bed with another patient;

b. She had to purchase her own drugs and cotton wool despite the government policy and Presidential directive that maternity services were free of charge;

c. She gave birth on the floor, in the corridor of the hospital, and without assistance;

d. She underwent physical and verbal abuse at the hands of the two nurses who attended to her when she fell unconscious on the floor;

e. She was forced to carry her un-expelled placenta back to the delivery room in further act of cruelty and humiliation;

f. She was not informed of the process she could use to file any grievance she had. 

The court held: 

28.The inevitable conclusion is that, upon an independent review of the evidence presented to the trial court, Josephine sufficiently proved her factual claims. The question that follows this conclusion is whether the facts, as proved, demonstrated constitutional violations to entitle her to the declarations the court made in her favour and against the appellants.

 

29.It is not, at all, contested that under our Constitution, every woman is entitled to respectful maternal care during childbirth as part of their social and economic rights enshrined in Article 43 of the Constitution. That aspect of the right to health is not subject to progressive realization. It is part of the minimum core of the right that must be realizable immediately and not progressively. The minimum core of a woman’s right to respectful maternal care during child birth must, as the trial court expounded, include

a. The right to be free from physical violence and verbal abuse during labour and childbirth;

b. The right to be free from discrimination during labour and childbirth;

c. The right to a dignified and respectful care – including being granted acceptable levels of privacy and confidentiality during labour and childbirth.

March 4, 2024 in Courts, Family, Healthcare, International, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 26, 2024

Supreme Court Amicus Brief Argues Brenda Andrew's Capital Murder Case Used Prejudicial "Sexualized Evidence"

A coalition of amici, including a former federal judge, Fair and Just Prosecution, 17 law professors, and 4 domestic violence researchers, have filed an amicus brief in support of Brenda Andrew's petition for cert. in her capital murder case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The brief challenges the weaponizing of gender bias as a jury persuasion tool: "The noxious effects of gender bias pack a powerful punch in the courtroom—and prosecutors know it. Some prosecutors, including those that tried Ms. Andrew, deliberately invoke gender bias, strategically emphasizing a woman’s departure from feminine ideals “to turn jurors against female defendants,” rather than meeting their burden of proof with actual evidence." The brief argues: 

Brenda Andrew’s capital murder prosecution was tainted with irrelevant and prejudicial evidence that spoke not to her criminal culpability, but to her failure to comply with society’s gender-biased expectations about how women should and should not behave. Repeatedly, the prosecution elicited testimony designed to paint Ms. Andrew as a hypersexual seductress and an uncaring mother. The prosecution’s leitmotif of gender deviance was an implicit theme and an explicit exhortation at trial: because Ms. Andrew did not behave as a “virtuous” woman should, the jury should convict her and subject her to the harshest punishment possible. By the time the case was submitted to the jury, the prosecution had deflected the jury’s focus from an inquiry into Ms. Andrew’s guilt or innocence to a referendum on Ms. Andrew’s femininity and morality.

 

Ms. Andrew’s case is an exceptional example of the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office weaponizing gender bias to poison proceedings against a female defendant who had no prior criminal record, in a case that involved no allegation of torture or exceptional cruelty. This brief includes a portion of the trove of sexualizing evidence in Ms. Andrew’s trial, and presents scholarship demonstrating how prejudicial that evidence was. Until these prosecutorial tactics are eradicated from American courtrooms, “[j]ustice is likely to remain a lottery while so much depends on the woman’s fulfillment of society’s expectations.” [citation omitted] Amici urge this Court to grant Ms. Andrew’s petition for a writ of certiorari.

February 26, 2024 in Constitutional, Courts, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ziegler, Cahn, and Suter on "The Massive Legal Fallout from Alabama's IVF Ruling"

Mary Ziegler, Naomi Cahn, and Sonia Suter have published a commentary with MSNBC titled The Massive Legal Fallout from Alabama's IVF Ruling is Just the Beginning. The full published opinion from the Alabama Supreme Court can be accessed here. The Court held that "[t]he central question . . . is whether the Act contains an unwritten exception to that rule for extrauterine children -- that is, unborn children who are located outside of a biological uterus at the time they are killed. Under existing black-letter law, the answer to that question is no: the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act applies to all unborn children, regardless of their location."

Ziegler, Cahn, and Suter preview the problematic breadth of this holding. Here is an excerpt: 

Increasingly, since the Dobbs ruling, states like Alabama put a high price tag on pursuing justice for reproductive harms. While the unintentional destruction of embryos that occurred in this case was well-suited to some sort of legal remedy, it seems perverse to choose between a punitive vision of fetal rights and restitution for those grieving the loss of potential parenthood. There are remedies that don’t go all the way to personhood. Even in the Alabama case, the plaintiffs had other claims unrelated to personhood. Others have claimed breach of contract, malpractice, and even loss of the right to become a parent. 

 

Instead, the state court turned a case about three couples’ grief into an opportunity to proclaim the close relationship between Christianity and state constitutional law — and to advance an idea of personhood that so-called abolitionists in the anti-abortion movement argue requires the punishment of women themselves. Strikingly absent from the court’s decision, however, is a meaningful discussion of what the decision means for those who seek to become parents – or for those who don’t. 

February 26, 2024 in Abortion, Courts, Family, Healthcare, Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 9, 2024

Ohio AG Keeps Lawsuit Alive Defending 6 Week Abortion Ban Even After Voters Passed Constitutional Amendment for Reproductive Freedom

News 5 Cleveland, Ohio AG Fighting for "Other Provisions" in 6-Week Abortion Ban, Maintains Ban is Unconstitutional

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost asked that the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas throw out a lawsuit that would eliminate the six-week abortion ban, just months after saying that said ban would be void if voters chose to legalize and protect access to abortion.

Now, Yost’s team is explaining that although the filing has no explicit mention of this, the AG only wants to fight for "other provisions" — and not the ban itself.***

The AG’s office filed a procedural document Friday that responds to all claims that were made by six-week ban challengers, including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Ohio, and indicates arguments the office will make throughout the life of the lawsuit.

The response by the Attorney General’s Office is a common legal document that is required as part of the legal process, according to Case Western Reserve University constitutional law professor Jonathan Entin.

“The lawyer's job is to provide the strongest case with the strongest set of arguments available on behalf of the client's position,” Entin said. “The attorney general's client is the state.”

Tracy Thomas, University of Akron director of constitutional law, said it came as a surprise that the state attorney is continuing the lawsuit fight to try to save the law.

“Given the vote [on Issue 1], given the governor saying ‘we’re going to respect the vote,’ I think what was expected was not keeping this lawsuit going,” Thomas said.

Immediately after the abortion amendment passed, DeWine told News 5 that he did “certainly accept the results of Issue 1 in Ohio.”” 

But given the polarizing politics on the issue of abortion rights, Thomas said keeping the lawsuit going, if just to delay a ruling until more legislative decisions on reproductive rights can be made, could be one strategy at play.

“Laws and constitutions are only as good as the courts enforcing them,” she said.

February 9, 2024 in Abortion, Courts, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Empirical Study of Appellate Patent Litigation Reveals Ongoing Racial and Gender Disparities of Lawyers

Paul Gugliuzza, Rachel Rebouche & Jordana Goodman, Inequality on Appeal: The Intersection of Race and Gender in Patent Litigation  

Today, roughly 40% of lawyers are women, 15% are persons of color, and 8% are women of color. Yet people of color, and women of all races, rarely climb to the most elite levels of law practice. This article, based on an original, hand-coded dataset of the gender and race of thousands of lawyers and case outcomes, provides a stark illustration of on-going racial and gender disparities, focusing on the high-stakes world of appellate patent litigation.

All appeals in patent cases nationwide are heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a court that is itself quite diverse: out of twelve active judges, five are women and four are persons of color, two of whom are women of color. But, out of 6,000-plus oral arguments presented to the Federal Circuit in patent cases from 2010 through 2019, a staggering 93% were delivered by white attorneys. Barely 2% were by Black or Hispanic/Latino attorneys. Adding in data about gender, white male attorneys alone argued 82% of patent cases during the decade we studied. Women of color, by contrast, argued fewer than 2%.

Crucially, those disparities bear no relation to attorney performance. Appellants in Federal Circuit patent cases win about a quarter of the time and appellees win about three-quarters of the time—with no correlation based on race, gender, or the intersection of the two. The one cohort of lawyers in our study that does win more frequently is a small group of lawyers at large law firms who argue Federal Circuit patent appeals more frequently than anyone else. That group of roughly 65 lawyers is, like our dataset overall, overwhelmingly white and male.

In general, our study tells a dispiriting story: despite increasing diversity among law students and lawyers, and no connection between a lawyer’s gender or race and case outcomes, a lack of diversity persists at the legal profession’s highest levels. However, we identify discrete areas of patent practice where women, people of color, and women of color are more visible—most notably, in representing the federal government (as opposed to private-sector clients) in patent appeals. Those findings provide a foundation for ideas to make the patent system, and high-level law practice generally, more diverse and inclusive.

January 18, 2024 in Courts, Equal Employment, Technology, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 18, 2023

Legal Scholar Amicus Brief Argues to Sustain or Increase Scrutiny Level for Transgender Inmate

Kyle Velte, Ezra Young, Jeremiah Ho, M. Dru Levasseur, Nancy Marcus, Dara Purvis, Eliot Traez, Ann Tweedy, Brief Amici Curiae Legal Scholars of Sex and Gender In Support of Plaintiff-Appellant

This amicus brief was filed in Griffith v. El Paso County, Colorado, case no. 23-1135 (10th Circuit) in support of appellant Darlene Griffith. Amici curiae are legal scholars of sex and gender. They offer expertise in their personal capacities to assist the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in assessing whether the El Paso County Sheriff officials violated Ms. Griffith’s Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection when they refused to house Ms. Griffith, a transgender woman, in the women's unit of the El Paso County Jail as a pretrial detainee.

December 18, 2023 in Constitutional, Courts, Gender, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Legal Experts Examine Controversial Forensic Test That Has Helped Convict Women of Murder for Stillbirth

Legal Experts to Examine a Controversial Forensic Test That Has Helped Convicted Women of Murder

Legal experts from two universities will convene a group to study a dubious forensic test that has helped send some women to prison for murder though the women insisted they had stillbirths.

Last month, ProPublica reported on what’s known as the lung float test, which some medical examiners use to help determine whether a child was stillborn or was born alive and took a breath.

In response to the investigation, Aziza Ahmed, a professor at Boston University School of Law, and Daniel Medwed, professor of law and criminal justice at Northeastern University, announced they will lead the Floating Lung Test Research Study Group. The group, which will consist of lawyers and medical professionals, will be sponsored by the Boston University Program on Reproductive Justice and the Center for Public Interest Advocacy and Collaboration at Northeastern University School of Law.

December 12, 2023 in Courts, Healthcare, Pregnancy | Permalink | Comments (0)