Monday, October 11, 2021

Report Concludes More Women are Serving Life Sentences

The Sentencing Project, National Women's Justice Institute, and the Cornell University Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide published a report concluding that more women are serving life sentence. This collaborative report "seeks to highlight the experiences of incarcerated women and girls, to eliminate extreme sentences, and to reduce the influence of racial and gender bias in the criminal legal system." 

The report reveals that: 

Extreme punishments, including the death penalty and life imprisonment, are a hallmark of the United States’ harsh criminal legal system. Nationwide one of every 15 women in prison — over 6,600 women — are serving a sentence of life with parole, life without parole, or a virtual life sentence of 50 years or more. The nearly 2,000 women serving life-without-parole (LWOP) sentences1 can expect to die in prison. Death sentences are permitted by 27 states and the federal government, and currently 52 women sit on death row. This report presents new data on the prevalence of both of these extreme sentences imposed on women.

It concludes that: 

Women represent a small but growing portion of the prison population facing extreme sentences. Reforms advanced to end the use of extreme sentences will need to pay attention to the nuanced life experiences of women serving life in prison, as these have shaped their behaviors as well as their prison experiences. A wealth of evidence suggests that women encounter gender-based stigma and bias that negatively affects their court outcomes. Their experience of violence--both as victims and as perpetrators--are distinct from the experiences of men, but women are subjected to a criminal legal system that does not acknowledge these important differences.

October 11, 2021 in Courts | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Supreme Court Sneak Attack on Abortion Access in Kentucky

Rewire reports on the upcoming case of Cameron v. EMW Women's Surgical Center being argued in the Supreme Court tomorrow.  The issue before the court is "whether a state attorney general vested with the power to defend state law should be permitted to intervene after a federal court of appeals invalidates a state statute when no other state actor will defend the law." While it will not address the merits of abortion law, the stakes are still high:

If Cameron is able to intervene and the law gets upheld, it could effectively ban abortion after 15 weeks in a state that has just two clinics and multiple restrictions, including a 24-hour waiting period and bans on insurance coverage of the procedure. Both clinics are in downtown Louisville, which means access is limited for people in other areas of the state.

Notably, the article also revisits the issue of struggles to enforce Louisville's new ordinance imposing a clinic buffer zone. The article notes the disparities in how racial justice protesters were handled after Breonna Taylor's death, compared to anti-abortion protesters. Interviewing the owner of EMW Women's Medical Center, Ona Marshall, and clinic escort and support fund director, Meg Sasse Stern, Rewire reports that: 

[A]dvocates pushed for the safety zone because of the lack of enforcement of various city ordinances regulating things like harassment, noise, and sidewalk access. She also noted that these same ordinances were enforced against social justice protests after Breonna Taylor’s death, and the Louisville Metro Police Department is now under a pattern and practice investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. LMPD arrested the state’s only Black woman lawmaker, state Rep. Attica Scott, during a September 2020 protest.

“Anti-abortion protesters are ignored and just treated differently than other protesters,” Marshall said. Stern agreed that the difference is obvious: “I cannot ignore the vast difference in treatment received by these anti-abortion protesters and the way that our police department treats protesters that are demanding police stop killing Black and brown people.”

Both Marshall and Stern are skeptical that the safety zone around EMW will be enforced due to anti-abortion sentiments in the police department. During an August 2020 Metro Council meeting about the proposed safety zone, former council member David Yates, now a Democratic state senator, said he received text messages from police officers asking, “who’s going to enforce this – lol.”

October 11, 2021 in Abortion, Courts, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

National Women's Soccer Players Display Solidarity and Issue Statement

In an article appropriately titled Enough is Enough, WDRB Louisville captured an emotional moment this week when players around the National's Women's Soccer League stopped play at the sixth minute of the game. The six minute mark denoted how it took six years for allegations of sexual coercion and harassment to be acted upon.  The players locked arms at midfield in solidarity. 

The Player's Association also published this list of demands and statement: 

Tonight, we reclaim our place on the field, because we will not let our joy be taken from us. But this is not business as usual.

Teams will stop play in each of tonight’s games at the 6th minute. Players will join together in solidarity at the center circle for one minute in honor of the 6 years it took for Mana, Sinead, and all those who fought for too long to be heard. We call on fans to stand in silence with us. During that time, we ask you to stand in that pain and discomfort with us, as we consider what we have been asked to sit with for too long. We call on you to consider, in that minute, what is demanded of each of us to reclaim our league and our sport.

Following the game, the media are advised that players will refuse to answer any questions that do not relate to abuse and systemic change in NWSL.

Systemic transformation is not something you say. It is something you do. We, as players, demand the following:

1. Every coach, General Manager, representative on the Board of Governors, and owner voluntarily submit to the Players Association’s independent investigation into abusive conduct. They may notify Executive Director Meghann Burke of their agreement with this demand by the close of business on Wednesday, October 13, 2021.

2. The scope of NWSL’s investigation announced on Sunday evening, October 4, 2021, be expanded to include an investigation of each of the twelve NWSL Clubs represented on the Board of Governors to determine whether any abuse, whether presently known or unknown, has occurred at any point in time.

3. The scope of NWSL’s investigation further be expanded to determine whether any League Office staff, NWSL Club, or person in a position of power within NWSL neglected to investigate concerns of abuse raised by any player or employee at any point in time.

4. NWSL adopt an immediate “Step Back Protocol” whereby any person in a position of power (e.g. owner, representative on the Board of Governors, General Manager, or Management Supervisor) at the time that a Club either hired or separated from employment a coach who was, is, or will be under investigation for abuse be suspended from any governance or oversight role within NWSL pending the conclusion of an independent investigation, effective immediately. For any Club that took swift action to protect players upon the discovery of facts that were not previously known to the Club, the immediate disclosure to the Players Association of the circumstances and the policies or practices implemented to prevent the same from happening again may be grounds to restore that person to their position quickly, with the Players Association’s agreement.

5. NWSL immediately agree to disclose all investigative reports referenced in its statement of October 3, 2021.

6. NWSL immediately agree to disclose to the Players Association any and all findings, conclusions, and reports are obtained pursuant to their statement of October 3, 2021, including but not limited to the reopening of the 2015 Paul Riley investigation.

7. NWSL agrees to cooperate with the Players Association’s own independent investigation by a written email to Executive Director Meghann Burke by the close of business on Wednesday, October 13, 2021.

8. NWSL agrees that representatives of the Players Association have an opportunity to meet with potential Commissioner candidates and have a meaningful opportunity to be heard in the selection of the next Commissioner.

The reckoning has already begun. We will not be silent. We will be relentless in our pursuit of a league that deserves the players in it.

#NoMoreSilence

October 11, 2021 in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 8, 2021

Women Law Deans, Gender Sidelining, and Presumptions of Incompetence

Laura Padilla, Women Law Deans, Gender Sidelining, and Presumptions of Incompetence, Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law, & Justice (forthcoming).

Although the percentage of female law deans has increased to approximately 32.5% from 18.7% in the 2005-06 academic year, there is still much work to be done.  As Professor Padilla points out, these numbers are still not reflective of representation of women in the general population or entering law schools.  Furthermore, women of color are represented at an even greater disparity at just 9% (up from 1.8% in the 2005-06 academic year).

In this article, Professor Padilla discusses a number of reasons for the disparity and the challenges unique to female deans and female deans of color once in this pivotal leadership role.  Among these is presumptions of incompetence.  “It is remarkable that women with top qualifications which equal or outdo men’s qualifications still endure prove-it-again bias, are questioned about their competency, and are rarely recognized as capable until they prove otherwise.” Another example is gender sidelining. Gender sidelining can take many forms including women being “interrupted more, and hav[ing] their ideas more harshly scrutinized,” excluded from “interacting with powerful donors or alumni, or otherwise conducting business where women are rare,” and being put under pressure to “overcome the resentment of their colleagues by making extraordinary efforts to ‘fit in’ and put others at ease.”  Additionally, “[w]omen’s mistakes tend to be noticed with greater frequency and are remembered for longer; they tend to be judged more rigorously than men by their superiors; and they tend to receive more polarized evaluations.”  Having to navigate these additional challenges on top of an already demanding position is an untenable situation facing female law deans.  “The battles are real and the impacts can be devastating, but they can also lead to greater strength, resilience, and satisfaction.”

Creating the environment where women deans are able to get to “greater strength, resilience, and satisfaction” requires intentionality. “Women bring something new and different to leadership: a greater willingness to change, be flexible, and approach old problems in new ways.” As pointed out in this article, it is “intriguing to consider how much more productive women leaders would be if they could just focus on their work without dodging so many unnecessary challenges.”  To help current women deans be successful, and encourage the recruitment and retention of new deans, the article suggests a number of concrete steps an institution can take.  These include continuing to increase women in leadership, because opening those doors in any institution makes it easier for the doors to open for others and reduces tokenism; promoting a broader range of leadership styles and recognizing when a preferred leadership style may have gendered connotations; providing ongoing support and training, including mentorship; and promoting an institutional culture of calling out biases and encouraging allyship.  Institutions committed to inclusion at all levels of leadership should utilize these tools to, as Professor Padilla writes, “flip the script on these destructive forces and celebrate the strength, change, and opportunities women bring to law school communities through their leadership.”

October 8, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Britney Spears, Carrie Buck, and the Awful History of Controlling "Unfit" Women

Wash Post, Britney Spears, Carrie Buck, and the Awful History of Controlling "Unfit" Women

In a June hearing, Spears said that her conservatorship was “abusive,” and that her father forced her to work and to keep a birth-control device in her body so that she could not become pregnant. The claims shocked the public, including many celebrities, who have increasingly voiced their support for her.

But to historians of eugenics, Spears’s ordeal sounds very familiar. It’s a story of control — control of a woman’s labor, civil rights, parental custody, legal representation and even her reproductive system.***

In the early 20th century, a lot of states were “chasing the white whale” of a eugenics law that would pass constitutional scrutiny, said Elizabeth Catte, a public historian and author of the scorching book “Pure America: Eugenics and the Making of Modern Virginia.” Indiana passed a eugenics-based law allowing forced sterilization in 1907, but it was overturned in court, as was California’s in 1909.

Then Virginia gave it a try with its own law in 1924, and went looking for a test case to legitimize it.

Carrie Buck was born into poverty in Charlottesville in 1906. Her father abandoned the family, and her mother was soon accused of “immorality” and committed to the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded — essentially a work camp for White people the state didn’t like. Buck was separated from her siblings and sent to live with a wealthy foster family, who forced her to leave school during sixth grade and serve as a housekeeper in their home.

When Buck was 17, she was raped by the nephew of her foster mother and became pregnant. Probably to save face, the family accused her of promiscuity and feeblemindedness, and in 1924, she was committed to the same colony as her mother. Her infant daughter was given to her foster mother.

In an 8-to-1 decision, the Supreme Court agreed, with Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously declaring, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” (Many words now used as mild insults, such as “moron,” “imbecile,” and “idiot,” have a long history of being used as clinical diagnoses.)

Buck, along with her mother and her sister, was subsequently sterilized by having her fallopian tubes cut and cauterized. Buck’s daughter died when she was 8.

All told, Virginia robbed 8,000 people of their ability to have children.

Spears’s situation has made Catte “think a lot about women that I write about, even though they are incredibly poor women,” and Spears is not.

“The choice to deprive them of their reproductive freedom through sterilization was only one half of the state’s control over their lives,” she said. “The second half is control over their labor.”

October 6, 2021 in Legal History, Poverty, Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

LGBTQ Youth and the Promise of the SCOTUS Quartet of Cases by Justice Kennedy

Michael Higdon, LGBTQ Youth and the Promise of the Kennedy Quartet, Cardozo Law Review (forthcoming)

The Supreme Court has only issued four opinions endorsing the constitutional rights of sexual minorities, each of them authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy. These four cases, which this article refers to collectively as “the Kennedy Quartet,” have done much to advance the equality of LGBTQ adults in the United States. The question remains, however, as to what extent those cases likewise protect LGBTQ children. Far from simply being an academic question, this issue has taken on increased urgency as legislators in a number of states—thwarted by the Kennedy Quartet in their ability to target LGBTQ adults—have turned their attentions to those sexual minorities who are still children. In so doing, they have passed laws that, among other things, punish adolescent sexual activity more harshly when it involves two people of the same sex, prohibit discussions in public schools that portray homosexuality in anything other than a negative light, and deny transgender youth the ability to compete in school athletics or use restrooms that correspond to their gender identity. These laws are harmful enough in their own right but are particularly pernicious in light of the harms those children already face simply by virtue of being a sexual minority in a homophobic society. Looking at the Kennedy Quartet in conjunction with the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence regarding the constitutional rights of children, this Article argues that such laws are unconstitutional. It does so by, first, challenging the argument that the Kennedy Quartet pertains only to adults. Second, and more importantly, this Article then distills from those cases three key protections applicable to the entire LGBTQ community—children included—that these current laws violate. The hope is that this analysis will assist judges, legislators, and policy makers alike as they look for ways to put an end to this wave of discriminatory laws and, in their place, lobby for more inclusive legislation.

October 6, 2021 in Gender, LGBT, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rethinking the Theory of Feminist Backlash

Sally Kenney, Backlash Against Feminism: Rethinking a Loaded Concept, The Oxford Handbook of Feminism and Law in the United States (Deborah L. Brake, Martha Chamallas & Verna L. Williams, eds., Forthcoming).

Backlash is a reaction to real or perceived change leaving progressives worse off by catalyzing conservatives to oppose change by, changing their opinions to be more negative, holding opposing views more deeply, or propelling them to act violently. The claim that progressive social change has been counterproductive is an empirical one but too often those diagnosing backlash fail to distinguish what is truly a measurable setback from the fierce countermobilization of pre-existing opponents who are losing ground. Progressives themselves have famously warned against using courts in particular to advance the causes of civil rights, gender equality, or gay rights, yet careful examination reveals no regression. Once we complicate a simple linear understanding of progress, think about gender inequality intersectionally, and add an analysis of discursive countermobilizations to simple empirical measures of progress, the implicit baggage the concept carries outweighs its usefulness.

October 6, 2021 in Gender, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

CFP Governing Bodies--Bodily Autonomy and the Law (Detroit Mercy Law Review)

The University of Detroit Mercy Law Review is accepting submissions for the annual symposium, Governing Bodies: Bodily Autonomy and the Law, on Friday, March 4, 2022, in Detroit, Michigan.

Bodily autonomy has been regulated or banned on many levels throughout our history, ranging from slavery to the right to an abortion, assisted suicide, transgender rights, and even issues surrounding the present COVID-19 pandemic. While these laws and regulations have led to controversy and protest, it remains unclear where exactly the line should be drawn limiting government power over our bodies, or if there should be a line at all.

Detroit Mercy Law Review invites academics, scholars, practitioners, and other stakeholders to submit proposals for panel presentation and potential publication on topics involving governments and entities attempting to regulate bodily autonomy. These may include, but are not limited to, the following: slavery, vaccine passports and mandates, abortion laws, assisted suicide, data privacy issues, and transgender rights.

 

Submission Procedure

Proposals should be approximately 250–500 words, double-spaced, and should detail the proposed topic and presentation. Proposals must be submitted no later than 5 PM EST Friday, October 15, 2021, by email to Mackenzie Clark, Symposium Director, at lawreview@udmercy.edu. In your e-mail, please indicate whether your proposal is for a presentation only or if you plan to submit an article based on your presentation for potential publication in the Detroit Mercy Law Review. Also, please include a current CV or resume.

Decisions will be emailed on or before Monday, November 7, 2021. The final completed manuscripts must be submitted by Friday, March 11, 2022, for editing to commence by the Law Review staff.

October 6, 2021 in Abortion, Call for Papers, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

CFP Feminist Legal Theory Network at Law and Society Annual Meeting

The Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network of the Law and Society Association
Global Meeting on Law & Society, Lisbon, Portugal & Virtual, July 13-16, 2022

Call for Papers – Friday, October 29 Deadline

Dear friends and colleagues,

We write to invite you to participate in panels sponsored by the Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network (FLT CRN) at the LSA-sponsored Global Meeting on Law & Society, July 13-16, 2022. Information about the conference (including registration and planning your visit) is at: https://www.lawandsociety.org/lisbon-2022-homepage.  Please note that the meeting is going to be held later than usual.

The theme for the Global Meeting is Rage, Reckoning, & Remedy. Feminist legal theory should and does have a lot to say about all three topics and the urgency with which we confront them now – globally but amidst vast and escalating inequality and a crisis of rising hate, fascism, and illiberal policies across the globe.

In this context, we are especially interested in papers that bring a critical feminist lens to their topics and that embrace the international character of the conference. Such papers will address the intersectional, gendered aspects of their subjects.
The following non-exhaustive list is intended to provide examples of topic areas, and not to limit scholarly and creative engagement of feminist legal theory with the conference themes:

● Present-day inequalities caused by unacknowledged and unaddressed (or inadequately addressed) legacies of slavery and colonialism.
● Consequences of neoliberal economic and social policies amidst (so-called) globalization.
● World health and environmental crises such as HIV/AIDS, Covid 19, climate change, and military, police, and other pervasive violence against marginalized people and communities around the globe.
● Critiques of international law and human rights approaches and institutions.
● Rule of law, access to justice, and legal empowerment issues and approaches.
● Inequalities related to reproduction and reproductive technologies.
● Perspectives on exploitation and resistance movements.
● Transnational/International/Comparative feminist critiques of any topic.

We especially welcome proposals that would permit us to collaborate with other CRNs and that are (give the multidisciplinary character of LSA) multidisciplinary in approach. We strongly encourage colleagues from the Global South and indigenous colleagues to submit proposals.

Our goal is to stimulate focused discussion of papers on which scholars are currently working. Thus, while proposals may reference work that is well on the way to publication, we are particularly eager to solicit proposals for works-in-progress that are at an earlier stage and will benefit from the discussion that the panels will provide.

SUBMISSION TYPES
Per the LSA guidelines, there are several types of submissions:
1. Individual papers
2. Paper Sessions: Panels that are formed around a single theme. These consist of 4-5 paper presenters, 1 Chair and 1 Discussant (who can be the same person), and last 1 hour and 45 minutes.
3. Roundtables: These may be formed around a topic and consist of 4-8 participants, 1 Chair, and last 1 hour and 45 minutes.
4. Author Meets Reader (AMR): These are for scholarly books published in 2021. For more information, please see https://www.lawandsociety.org/author-meets-reader-newbooks- in-the-field/

LSA also encourages submission of other “creative” formats for this conference. If you have an idea that you think would work well in one of these formats, please let us know.


CRN PRIORITIES FOR THIS CONFERENCE
Individual paper submissions. The CRN gives preference this year to individual submissions. A committee of the CRN will assign individual papers to panels based on the subject. Our panels will use the conference format, which requires four papers, but we will continue our custom of assigning a chair for the panel and a commentator for each individual paper. As a condition of participating as a panelist, you must also agree to serve as a chair or commentator for another panel or participant. We will of course take into account your scheduling and topic preferences to the degree possible.

Pre-formed group submissions. Although we prefer individual paper submissions, we will consider pre-formed panels, roundtables, AMR sessions, and other group submissions that meet the following guidelines:
1. The presenters have not presented together at LSA before.
2. Junior colleagues are included.
3. A diversity of institutions are represented.
4. Interdisciplinary and international perspectives are included.


If you are already planning a conference session with at least four panelists and papers that you would like to see included in the Feminist Legal Theory CRN, please let the organizers know.

The duties of a chair are to organize the panel logistically, including registering it online with the LSA and moderating the panel. The chair will develop a 100–250-word description for the session and submit the session proposal to LSA before their upcoming deadline on November 10, 2021, so that each panelist can submit his or her proposal using the panel number assigned. Chairs will also be responsible for assigning commentators but may wait to do so until panels have been scheduled later this winter.

The duties of a commentator are to read a minimum of two papers and provide verbal comments as well as brief written (email is fine) comments.

SUBMISSION PROCESS AND GUIDELINES
Individual Papers: Please email your abstract, up to three key terms (e.g., International law, violence against women, criminal law), and whether you will be virtual to 1femnistlegaltheory@gmail.com with the Email Subject: Individual Paper Last Name.

Panels and Roundtables: Please email your abstract and up to three key terms (e.g., International law, violence against women, criminal law) and all proposal members, identifying chair and discussant and whether any member will be virtual to
1femnistlegaltheory@gmail.com with the Email Subject: Panel Proposal or Roundtable Proposal Last Name.

Author Meets Reader Panels: Please email your book title and all panel members, identify chair and, whether any panelist will be virtual to 1femnistlegaltheory@gmail.com with the Email Subject: AMR Proposal Last Name.

Please remember that group proposals that are repeated from previous years, that are composed of scholars from a single institution, that contain no junior scholars and other forms of diversity may be rejected.

Be sure to first carefully read the LSA guidelines for submission formats here:
https://www.lawandsociety.org/types-of-submissions/. Please note that LSA rules limit you to participating only once as a paper panelist or roundtable participant.

Please submit all proposals by Friday, October 29. This will permit us to organize papers into panels (and potentially other formats) and submit them prior to the LSA’s deadline on November 10. If we are unable to accept your proposal for the CRN, we will notify you by early November so that you can submit an independent proposal to the conference.

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS
Please send any questions or comments to the CRN email address: 1femnistlegaltheory@gmail.com. Please do not send questions or submissions to individual committee members or in response to this email.

We look forward to the conference and hope you’ll join us in Lisbon or virtually to discuss our scholarship and connect with others doing work on feminist legal theory.


Best,
LSA Planning Committee
Cyra Akila Choudhury (co-chair)
Elizabeth MacDowell (co-chair)
April Cherry
Laura Kessler
Anibal Rosario-Lebron
Sheila Velez Martin
Ezgi Şerif

October 6, 2021 in Call for Papers, Conferences, International, Scholarship, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Marriage Apostates: Why Heterosexuals Seek Same-Sex Registered Partnerships

Marriage Apostates: Why Heterosexuals Seek Same-Sex Registered Partnerships

By: Nausica Palazzo

Published in: Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Forthcoming

Same-sex marriage is now recognized in several jurisdictions in the West. This result is ascribable to the untiring work of LGBTQ groups, that have utilized much of their energies to attain it. Pervasive forms of discrimination because of one’s sexual orientation are still in place, such as legislation restricting access to foster and adoption services. But there is little doubt that marriage equality constituted a watershed moment for LGBTQ politics. As Justice Roberts’ immortal words in Obergefell attest to, “[n]o union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union two people become something greater than once they were.” After the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell, gay and lesbian couples could also finally create the most profound of all unions, and cease being second-class citizens. Since marriage was seen by many as “the final stop for ‘full equality’ for lesbians and gay men,” a question lurked behind these events: “what now?” The question has various ramifications. “What now?” within the LGBTQ movement? Since the final objective has now been reached, the structure, financing, and strategies of the LGBTQ movement are inevitably changing. It will thus be interesting to see which battles the movement will prioritize in the next decades. A second, more crucial “what now?” bears upon the future of family law and policy. It concerns the fate of nonmarital statuses, that have been erased at the stroke of a pen after marriage equality.

. . .

Nonmarital statuses can promote a more pluralistic model of relationship recognition, and, as I will argue, offer legal protection to families that eschew the paradigm of the traditional marital family. The case of jurisdictions that have adopted nonmarital statuses as an alternative to marriage compellingly demonstrates this point. A nonmarital status is considered as an alternative to marriage when both opposite and same-sex partners can sign up. The rationale of alternative statuses is not that of offering a separate-but-equal regime for same-sex couples but a distinct regime that any couple can choose in lieu of marriage. Examples of jurisdictions adopting these laws are Illinois, Hawaii, and Colorado and, outside of the U.S., France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxemburg. Interestingly, in these countries, not only are nonmarital statuses being preserved but they are also becoming increasingly popular amongst heterosexual couples. 

October 5, 2021 in Constitutional, Courts, Family, Gender, International, LGBT, Same-sex marriage | Permalink | Comments (0)

From Digital Platforms to Facial Recognition Technologies: Structural Challenges to Women’s Activism

From Digital Platforms to Facial Recognition Technologies: Structural Challenges to Women’s Activism

By: Monika Zalnieriute

Submission to the Thematic Report on Girls’ and Young Women’s Activism for the 50th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Girls and women face many challenges in engaging in activism across the globe. Both online and in public spaces in our cities, which are increasingly surveilled and monitored by government and law enforcement agencies, women face challenges. In this submission, I would like to draw attention to several issues in particular. First, many countries around the world do have discriminatory face-covering laws, which ban Muslim face coverings in public spaces and thus prevent young women and girl activists from Muslim cultural backgrounds from exercising their rights to freedom of assembly, expression and opinion, among other rights. Second, a lot of public places, including cities and airports, are increasingly equipped with facial recognition technology, which undermines women's activism in city streets and squares. Third, in the digital environment and on media platforms, women from marginalized groups, such as LGBTI communities, face new threats and challenges – their speech and expression are often suppressed and also weaponized against them. Furthermore, the rise of large-scale data collection and algorithm-driven analysis targeting sensitive information poses many threats for women activists, especially from LGBTI communities, who are especially vulnerable to privacy intrusion due to their often hostile social, political, and even legal environments. I invite the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls to:

1) Call on the UN bodies to enhance their understanding of theory intersectionality. I have recently proposed a way to enhance judicial interpretation of reconceptualizing by reference to a modified concept of “harmful cultural practices”, (paper is freely available on SSRN).
2) Call for a ban on the use of facial recognition technology by governments in public city spaces.
3) Call for the development of binding international human rights law for private actors to remedy the violations of freedom of expression of women activists, especially from LGBTI communities in the digital environment.

October 5, 2021 in Constitutional, Gender, International, LGBT, Religion, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 4, 2021

Black Women Police Officers Allege an "Enterprise-Wide Culture of Race and Sex Discrimination"

A class of Black female police officers in Washington, D.C. has sued the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) alleging an "enterprise-wide culture of race and sex discrimination and intense pervasive retaliation against those who dared to complaint about, report, or oppose unlawful discrimination." Every woman in the class has worked for MPD for years and has previously complained multiple times about race and sex discrimination.  The complaint alleges that: 

There are four fundamental characteristics of the MPD that this class action lawsuit seeks to change: 1) MPD has a male-dominated culture that accepts and perpetuates the most demeaning, degrading and disrespectful discourse and actions by and between officers; 2) MPD has a culture that nurtures and encourages supervisory and management officers to abuse their power to exact petty vengeance on subordinates and make their lives miserable; 3) MPD has a profoundly dysfunctional and corrupt EEO Office run by a man who has repeatedly expressed hostility to women officers, and who colludes with management to crush Black women who complain about race and gender discrimination and sexual harassment; and 4) MPD, with the full participation and/or approval of the Chiefs of Police, engages in repeated, coordinated and relentless retaliation campaigns against Black women officers who complain about or oppose discrimination, or other police misconduct. In combination, these four MPD characteristics create a profoundly toxic work environment for Black woman officers.

The 209-page complaint chronicles extensively the allegations against MPD and MPD's retaliatory responses. The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages, health care related to physical and emotional harms, reinstatement of terminated or retired officers, applicable back pay, revised performance records, reimbursement for leave associated with the discrimination, future damages, attorneys fees, and appropriate injunctive relief.  

October 4, 2021 in Equal Employment, Masculinities, Race, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pennsylvania Bill Seeks "Dignity for Incarcerated Women"

Pennsylvania has introduced a bill seeking dignity for incarcerated women. The bill was sent to the House Judiciary Committee on September 21.  An accompanying memo from bill sponsors explains to the members of the house that:  

Over the past three decades Pennsylvania has seen a significant increase in the number of incarcerated women. While we believe in supporting a system that serves justice, women who are incarcerated face a number of unique issues regarding their heath and the health of their children. Despite being incarcerated, these women are still our mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters, and it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure we treat them with dignity.  

Through extensive consultation and collaboration with our state Department of Corrections, county wardens, corrections officers, various interest groups, and subject matter experts, we have identified a number of best practices, many of which are already in place, that we believe will not only benefit incarcerated women, but their children, families, and society as a whole. Specifically, our bill will provide for the following well vetted provisions at both the state and county level, with necessary oversight from children and youth services, and limited exceptions where extenuating circumstances and/or capacity constraints prevent safe practice and enforcement.  With common sense exceptions in all cases, the bill:

                1. Prohibits the shackling of pregnant women.  
                2. Prohibits solitary confinement of pregnant women.  
                3. Provides for trauma informed care training of corrections officers interacting with pregnant and postpartum women. 
                4. Provides for up to three days of post-delivery bonding time between mother and new born child.  
                5. Provides for accommodation of adequate visitation time between minor children and incarcerated individuals (male or female) who were the sole legal guardian of those minor children at the time of their arrest. 
                6. Prohibits full body searches of incarcerated females by male guards.  
                7. Provides for appropriate amount of feminine hygiene products at no cost to incarcerated women. 
                8. Provides for limited coverage of cost to transport individuals to a safe location upon release.   

The full text of the bill is available here

October 4, 2021 in Constitutional, Family, Healthcare, Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Assembly Passes Menstrual Equity for All Act

The California Assembly has passed the Menstrual Equity for All Act. It is awaiting the Governor's signature. Current law requires feminine hygiene products be provided in schools that meet a 40% public poverty threshold.  The Legislative Counsel's Digest summarizes that: 

This bill would enact the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2021, which would require a public school, as provided, maintaining any combination of classes from grades 6 to 12, inclusive, to stock the school’s restrooms with an adequate supply of free menstrual products, as defined, available and accessible, free of cost, in all women’s restrooms and all-gender restrooms, and in at least one men’s restroom, at all times, and to post a designated notice, on or before the start of the 2022–23 school year, as prescribed.
 
This bill would require the California State University and each community college district, and would encourage the Regents of the University of California and private universities, colleges, and institutions of higher learning, to stock an adequate supply of menstrual products, available and accessible, free of cost, at no fewer than one designated and accessible central location on each campus and to post a designated notice, as provided.
This bill was authored and championed by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia. It expands the 2017 law that she also authored. The bill received widespread bipartisan support.  

October 4, 2021 in Education, Healthcare, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 1, 2021

Following Bostock, How Employers Can Lead the Way to Embrace Transgender Employees in the Workplace

Nanci K. Carr, Following Bostock, How Employers Can Lead the Way to Embrace Transgender Employees in the Workplace, Denver Law Review Forum (2021).

Much has been written about the Supreme Court’s affirmation in Bostock v. Clayton that Title VII’s prohibition on the basis of sex includes protection for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly the legal implications related to other aspects of employment law. In this article, however, Professor Carr goes beyond legal requirements to encourage employers to recognize that the time has come to develop policies and training that not only “compl[ies] with the law, but also . . . embrace[s] transgender people in the workplace.” This is especially timely as the “EEOC has identified LGBTQ employees’ rights as an enforcement priority.”

This article includes a number of suggestions for developing antidiscrimination and antiharassment policies and training that include gender identity and gender expression. Specifically, Professor Carr emphasizes the importance of striking the balance of inviting transgender employees into the discussion when developing such policies and trainings, without placing the burden on these employees for the education of the employer’s workforce. “[I]t should not be their burden to bear; employers are responsible for ensuring safe workplaces.” To that end, senior management, in consultation with external guidance from organizations like Pride at Work or the National Center for Transgender Equality, should be the main developers and implementers of these polices and trainings. Professor Carr also identifies key elements to inclusive and welcoming policies and trainings such as those that specifically address name changes, pronoun usage, dress codes, healthcare and healthcare insurance, and restrooms.

Taking the steps to create a more inclusive workplace for transgender employees ultimately leads to a better environment for all. “While compliance with the law is mandatory, the additional benefit to employers is that creating a workplace climate of respect, trust, and understanding of all employees leads to a great probability of employee retention.”

October 1, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Iceland Parliament (Almost) Reaches Gender Parity and Europe's First Female-Majority Legislature

Iceland Elected the First Female-Majority Parliament in Europe. A Recount Reversed It.

Iceland heralded a weekend election result that would have made it the first country in Europe to have more women than men in parliament. But the celebrations were brief: A late recount put it just below gender parity.

 

Early results showed women won 33 seats in Iceland’s 63-seat Parliament, known as the Althing, up from 24 in the previous vote. Hours later, a surprise recount in the west of the country changed the outcome, leaving female candidates with 30 seats, according to state broadcaster RUV.

That is still the highest representation for women in Europe, at nearly 48 percent, ahead of Sweden and Finland with 47 percent and 46 percent, respectively.

 

“The female victory remains the big story of these elections,” politics professor Olafur Hardarson told the state broadcaster after the recount.

 

On average, just over a quarter of legislators globally are women, according to data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Only three countries — Rwanda, Cuba and Nicaragua — have more women than men in parliament, while Mexico and the United Arab Emirates have a 50-50 split.

 

Iceland, a North Atlantic island of 371,000 people, has been ranked the most gender-equal country in the world for more than a decade by the World Economic Forum, based on measures such as economic opportunities, education, health and political leadership. It even bettered its overall score last year at a time when global progress stagnated during the coronavirus pandemic.

September 29, 2021 in International, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Messy Legal Future of a Post-Roe World of Abortion Law

Greer Donley, David S. Cohen, and Rachel Rebouché,  The Messy Post-Roe Legal Future Awaiting America, The Atlantic

America now faces the very real possibility that in just a few months’ time, the Supreme Court will interpret the U.S. Constitution to no longer protect the right to abortion. On September 1, S.B. 8—the most stringent abortion ban since before Roe v. Wade—took effect in Texas. Completely ignoring the protections of Roe, the Supreme Court refused to intervene. Though the Court’s decision was procedural in nature, it speaks volumes about the justices’ view on the importance of abortion rights and the future of Roe. That will matter greatly when, later this term, the Court decides a different abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, addressing a Mississippi law that, like S.B. 8 and the copycat laws coming down the pike, challenges the fundamental holding of Roe by banning abortion before fetal viability. If the Court does overturn Roe, much of the American legal landscape—and with it, the lived experiences of millions—could change overnight, and the result will be a giant, legal mess.***

 

Navigating a post-Roe country will be anything but simple. Perhaps the only certainty to expect is that a post-Roe country will be one of inequity. A little fewer than half of U.S. states, mostly concentrated in the South and the Midwest, are poised to ban abortion in almost all cases if the Supreme Court overrules Roe. Some of these bans will start immediately, either because of pre-Roe laws still on the books or new “trigger laws” that will take effect the moment Roe is overturned. Scholars and activists have long noted that wealthy women in those states will be able to travel to other states to obtain abortions. But three-quarters of people seeking abortions are low-income, a group that is disproportionately people of color, and they will face barriers that will make it almost impossible to get to another state.***

 

But beyond the inevitable inequality resulting from overturning Roe, not much else is clear. The basic rule of Roe is straightforward: Abortion before viability must be legal in every state. This rule may not ensure practical access everywhere—abortion care is very difficult to obtain in many places—but it does outline some clear prohibitions. However, if Roe is overturned, we will live in a country where every state creates its own rules. Some states will ban abortion almost entirely, some will allow it with substantial restrictions, and others will codify reliable and equitable abortion access.

September 29, 2021 in Abortion, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Book and Reviews: Anita Hill's "Believing" Sees Sexual Harassment and Gender-Based Violence as a Cultural and Structural Problem That Hurts Everyone

Anita Hill, Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence

“An elegant, impassioned demand that America see gender-based violence as a cultural and structural problem that hurts everyone, not just victims and survivors… It’s at times downright virtuosic in the threads it weaves together.”—NPR

From the woman who gave the landmark testimony against Clarence Thomas as a sexual menace, a new manifesto about the origins and course of gender violence in our society; a combination of memoir, personal accounts, law, and social analysis, and a powerful call to arms from one of our most prominent and poised survivors.

In 1991, Anita Hill began something that’s still unfinished work. The issues of gender violence, touching on sex, race, age, and power, are as urgent today as they were when she first testified. Believing is a story of America’s three decades long reckoning with gender violence, one that offers insights into its roots, and paths to creating dialogue and substantive change. It is a call to action that offers guidance based on what this brave, committed fighter has learned from a lifetime of advocacy and her search for solutions to a problem that is still tearing America apart.

NYT Review, Anita Hill Has Some Perspective to Offer

Anita Hill still speaks in the measured tones she did while being questioned before an all-white, all-male panel before the Senate in 1991 — a young law professor in a blue linen suit who would give the nation an overnight education in workplace sexual harassment.

 

Thirty years later, she is more academic than activist, focusing on pathways to progress, and continuing to teach law as a professor of social policy, law and gender studies at Brandeis University.

 

But to be honest, Hill’s patience is waning. “I really am running out,” she said in a video interview from her home in Massachusetts earlier this month.

 

Her new book, “Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence,” due out on Tuesday from Viking, aims to channel that impatience into something more substantive — a manifesto of sorts.

NPR Review, "Believing" Is a Book Only Anita Hill Could have Written

Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence is not a book about Anita Hill. Yes, it has plenty of her personal stories and, yes, it references her role at the center of the Supreme Court hearing firestorm that first acquainted many Americans with the concept of "sexual harassment." ***

 

The book first attempts to show how massive problems like harassment and assault are affecting everyone from the smallest children to adults, from the lowest-wage workers to the highest-paid celebrities. Then, Hill shows both the effects of the problem — the ways it not only hurts individuals but hampers political change and economic growth — and the myriad barriers to solving it. To try to tackle something so complex, she says, feels like trying to "boil the ocean."

September 29, 2021 in Books, Equal Employment, Race, Violence Against Women, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Accidental Feminism: Gender parity and selective mobility among India's professional elite

Accidental Feminism: gender parity and selective mobility among India's professional elite

Preface to: Accidental feminism: Gender parity and selective mobility among India's professional elite

By Swethaa Ballakrishnen

Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2021.

In India, elite law firms offer a surprising oasis for women within a hostile, predominantly male industry. Less than 10 percent of the country’s lawyers are female, but women in the most prestigious firms are significantly represented both at entry and partnership. Elite workspaces are notorious for being unfriendly to new actors, so what allows for aberration in certain workspaces?

Drawing from observations and interviews with more than 130 elite professionals, Accidental Feminism examines how a range of underlying mechanisms—gendered socialization and essentialism, family structures and dynamics, and firm and regulatory histories—afford certain professionals egalitarian outcomes that are not available to their local and global peers. Juxtaposing findings on the legal profession with those on elite consulting firms, Swethaa Ballakrishnen reveals that parity arises not from a commitment to create feminist organizations, but from structural factors that incidentally come together to do gender differently. Simultaneously, their research offers notes of caution: while conditional convergence may create equality in ways that more targeted endeavors fail to achieve, “accidental” developments are hard to replicate, and are, in this case, buttressed by embedded inequalities. Ballakrishnen examines whether gender parity produced without institutional sanction should still be considered feminist.

In offering new ways to think about equality movements and outcomes, Accidental Feminism forces readers to critically consider the work of intention in progress narratives.

September 28, 2021 in Books, Gender, International, Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Eighth Amendment Jurisprudence and Transgender Inmates: The “WPATH” to Evolving Standards of Decency

Eighth Amendment Jurisprudence and Transgender Inmates: The “WPATH” to Evolving Standards of Decency

By: Bryce Daniels

Published in: Michigan State Law Review, Vol. 2021, No. 1, 2021

There has never been a greater opportunity in American history to address the challenges facing gender dysphoric inmates than now. Gender dysphoria is a mental illness characterized by severe distress at the incongruence between one’s sex and one’s internalized gender identity.

Federal courts have signaled a willingness to consider the unique mental health challenges facing gender dysphoric people incarcerated in state and federal prisons as covered under “cruel and unusual punishments” jurisprudence requiring “adequate medical care.” One such remedy federal courts have been called upon to require is “sex reassignment surgery” (“SRS”). Such surgery would change the petitioning inmate’s anatomy or secondary sex characteristics to more closely align with [their] internalized gender identity.

The sister circuit split between the 1st Circuit, 5th Circuit, and 9th Circuit illuminates the diverse analytical methodologies that courts and petitioners have implemented to adjudicate and resolve challenged institutional “deliberate indifference” to gender dysphoric inmates’ medical necessities.

However, there is a notable commonality between all three circuits—the reliance on the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (“WPATH”) Standards of Care (“Standards”). The Standards are compared against existing jurisprudence for determining the scope of the Eighth Amendment, and the juxtaposition leaves much to be legally desired by petitioners seeking prison-provided SRS.
The reality of federal jurisprudential reliance on states’ actions, laws, and regulations to determine the scope of the Eighth Amendment, while damning petitioners’ claims, should be viewed as providing a clear path to constitutional respite and medical care for a deeply vulnerable population.

September 28, 2021 in Constitutional, Gender, Healthcare | Permalink | Comments (0)