Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Book Review, Kerri Stone's, Panes of the Glass Ceiling

Rona Kaufman Kitchen, Feminist Legal Theory and Stone's Panes of the Glass Ceiling, 17 FIU L. Rev. 771 (2023).

In her book, Panes of the Glass Ceiling: The Unspoken Beliefs Behind the Law’s Failure to Help Women Achieve Professional Parity, Professor Kerri Lynn Stone explores and deconstructs the many practical reasons why women have been unable to achieve equality in employment. Professor Stone painstakingly deconstructs the belief systems that underlie the American workplace and the path to professional success to reveal many of the nuanced reasons why women, despite their education, skill, and commitment to the workforce, continue to struggle to achieve professional success comparative to men. Stone insightfully explains why women continue to experience irremediable discrimination in employment almost sixty years after Congress outlawed sex discrimination in employment. Stone’s book is a long overdue deconstruction and indictment of the toxic masculinity and seemingly benign social norms that pervade workplace culture and its negative impact on women and equality. Her book is geared toward an audience that wants to understand the problems women face in employment today and solve those problems. While she provides historical context for many of the beliefs that ground the panes of the glass ceiling, her focus is not on theory or history. It is a book about the reality of 2022 and a map for how to shift that reality in 2023 and beyond.

This book review seeks to provide deeper grounding for Stone’s panes of the glass ceiling by placing her work in the broader historical and theoretical context of feminism, the women’s movement, and the history of women in the American labor force. This discussion proceeds in three parts. Part I provides the historical context for discrimination against women in the American workplace and anti-discrimination law by tracing the evolution of the modern women’s movement and the history of women’s participation in the labor force. Part II discusses Professor Kerri Stone’s panes of the glass ceiling and places each pane in theoretical context. Part III concludes with a brief discussion of how Stone’s articulation of the panes or the glass ceiling and her suggestions for reform contribute to the ongoing feminist legal theory discourse.

April 24, 2024 in Books, Equal Employment, Theory | 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)

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Book Review, Not Everything is About Gender, Reviewing Judith Butler's New Book

Katha Pollitt, Books: Not Everything is About Gender, Atlantic

udith butler, for many years a professor of rhetoric and comparative literature at UC Berkeley, might be among the most influential intellectuals alive today. Even if you have never heard of them (Butler identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns), you are living in their world, in which babies are “assigned” male or female at birth, and performativity is, at least on campus, an ordinary English word. Butler’s breakout 1990 book, Gender Trouble, argued that biological sex, like gender, is socially constructed, with its physical manifestations mattering only to the degree society assigns them meaning. The book is required reading in just about every women’s-, gender-, or sexuality-studies department. Butler has won a raft of international honors and been burned in effigy as a witch in Brazil. How many thinkers can say as much? ***

The central idea of Who’s Afraid of Gender? is that fascism is gaining strength around the world, and that its weapon is what Butler calls the “phantasm of gender,” which they describe as a confused and irrational bundle of fears that displaces real dangers onto imaginary ones. Instead of facing up to the problems of, for example, war, declining living standards, environmental damage, and climate change, right-wing leaders whip up hysteria about threats to patriarchy, traditional families, and heterosexuality. And it works, Butler argues: “Circulating the phantasm of ‘gender’ is also one way for existing powers—states, churches, political movements—to frighten people to come back into their ranks, to accept censorship, and to externalize their fear and hatred onto vulnerable communities.” ***

In the United States, this politicized use of the word gender itself has not caught on as it has in much of the world, where, as an English word for which many languages have no equivalent, it is often used to attack feminism and LGBTQ rights as foreign imports. Still, as Butler notes, America’s Christian fundamentalists and far-right Republicans are fervently in the anti-gender vanguard, whether or not these groups actually use the word gender.

April 11, 2024 in Books, Gender, Scholarship, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Book Review, Not Everything is About Gender, Reviewing Judith Butler's New Book

Katha Pollitt, Books: Not Everything is About Gender, Atlantic

udith butler, for many years a professor of rhetoric and comparative literature at UC Berkeley, might be among the most influential intellectuals alive today. Even if you have never heard of them (Butler identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns), you are living in their world, in which babies are “assigned” male or female at birth, and performativity is, at least on campus, an ordinary English word. Butler’s breakout 1990 book, Gender Trouble, argued that biological sex, like gender, is socially constructed, with its physical manifestations mattering only to the degree society assigns them meaning. The book is required reading in just about every women’s-, gender-, or sexuality-studies department. Butler has won a raft of international honors and been burned in effigy as a witch in Brazil. How many thinkers can say as much? ***

The central idea of Who’s Afraid of Gender? is that fascism is gaining strength around the world, and that its weapon is what Butler calls the “phantasm of gender,” which they describe as a confused and irrational bundle of fears that displaces real dangers onto imaginary ones. Instead of facing up to the problems of, for example, war, declining living standards, environmental damage, and climate change, right-wing leaders whip up hysteria about threats to patriarchy, traditional families, and heterosexuality. And it works, Butler argues: “Circulating the phantasm of ‘gender’ is also one way for existing powers—states, churches, political movements—to frighten people to come back into their ranks, to accept censorship, and to externalize their fear and hatred onto vulnerable communities.” ***

In the United States, this politicized use of the word gender itself has not caught on as it has in much of the world, where, as an English word for which many languages have no equivalent, it is often used to attack feminism and LGBTQ rights as foreign imports. Still, as Butler notes, America’s Christian fundamentalists and far-right Republicans are fervently in the anti-gender vanguard, whether or not these groups actually use the word gender.

April 11, 2024 in Books, Gender, Scholarship, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 25, 2024

Forthcoming Book on "The Feminist Legislation Project"

A new book is available for pre-orders now, The Feminist Legislation Project: Rewriting Laws for Gender-Based Justice. The book is edited by Becky Batagol, Kate Seear, Heli Askola, and Jamie Walvisch. It will be released in July 2024. The legislation is Australian-based with global applicability. Here is a summary: 

In this book, leading law academics along with lawyers, activists and others demonstrate what legislation could look like if its concern was to create justice for women.

Each chapter contains a short piece of legislation - proposed in order to address a contemporary legal problem from a feminist perspective. These range across criminal law (sexual offences, Indigenous women's experiences of criminal law, laws in relation to forced marriage, modern slavery, childcare and sentencing), civil law (aged care and housing rights, regulating the gig economy; surrogacy, gender equity in the construction industry) and constitutional law (human rights legislation, reimagining parliaments where laws are made for the benefit of women). The proposed laws are, moreover, drafted with feedback from a senior parliamentary draftsperson (providing guidance to contributors in a personal capacity), to ensure conformity with legislative rigour, as well as accompanied by an explanation of their reasons and their aims. Although the legislation is Australian-based, the issues raised by each are recognisably global, and are reflected in the legislation of most other nations.

This first feminist legislation project will appeal to scholars of feminist legal studies, gender and the law, gender studies and others studying or working in relevant legal areas.

March 25, 2024 in Books, Gender, International, Legislation, Theory | 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)

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

A New Look at Tort Law's Categorization of Wrongdoing in Non-Collaborative Sex

Cristina Tilley, Impaired, in Pairs, 73 DePaul L. Rev. (2024)

Rape, like many other one-on-one aggressions, can be treated as both a crime and a tort. But neither body of law responds effectively to these aggressions. Criminal rape prosecution is notoriously difficult, and civil rape suits are notoriously rare. Today, as private law theorists have begun to study tort’s potential to drive social justice on issues of race, gender, and class, it is an ideal time to reassess the terms of civil liability for intimate injury. Culture has long limited “real rape” to premeditated, stranger-on-stranger, aggression. Consequently, tort has long categorized what this Essay terms “non-collaborative sex” as an intentional tort in which a predator strategically targets a plaintiff whose autonomy will be negated. The modern reality – that many, if not most, rapes take place between drunken acquaintances whose cognition and judgment have been dulled – is underaccounted for in modern tort doctrine. This Article urges a new look at tort’s categorization of wrongdoing in non-collaborative sex. The reflexive assumption that sexual wronging is intentional has placed the weight of sexual assault adjudication on the question of female consent. And while tort doctrine appears willing to acknowledge that sex often goes wrong when drugs and alcohol are involved, it takes a curiously gendered approach to the role that impairment plays. How so? The Restatement of Tort fixates on holding women responsible when they drunkenly, but mistakenly, signal consent. But it does not consider whether to hold men responsible when they drunkenly, but mistakenly, conclude they have consent. When both parties are cognitively dulled in this fashion, it may be doctrinally unprincipled to say that either has the capacity to intend their actions. If so, the Article suggests, physical oppression associated with non-collaborative, intoxicated, sex might be better placed in the tort categories of negligence or strict liability, where cognitive purpose is not the sine qua non of wrongdoing.

March 13, 2024 in Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 11, 2024

New Volume of "Feminist Judgments Rewritten" Published in Immigration Law

The "Feminist Judgments Project" has published another volume in its Cambridge University Press series. This volume, titled Feminist Judgments: Immigration Law Opinions Rewritten was edited by Kathleen Kim, Kevin Lapp and Jennifer Lee. Here is the book's description: 

This volume, part of the Feminist Judgment Series, shows how feminist legal theory along with critical race theory and intersectional modes of critique might transform immigration law. Here, a diverse collection of scholars and lawyers bring critical feminist, race, and intersectional insights to Supreme Court opinions. Feminist reasoning values the perspectives of outsiders, exposes the deep-rooted bias in the legal opinions of courts, and illuminates the effects of ostensibly neutral policies that create and maintain oppression and hierarchy. One by one, the chapters reimagine the norms that drive immigration policies and practices. In place of discrimination and subordination, the authors demand welcome and equality. Where current law omits the voice and stories of noncitizens, the authors center their lives and experiences. Collectively, they reveal how a feminist vision of immigration law could center a commitment to equality and justice and foster a country where diverse newcomers readily flourish with dignity.

March 11, 2024 in Books, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

A Feminist Approach to Competition Law and Policy

Kati Cseres, Feminist Competition Law, Cambridge Handbook on the Theoretical Foundations of Antitrust and Competition Law (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2024)

This paper takes up the challenge to show what a feminist approach to competition law and policy is, and what its contribution can be to the scholarship of competition law.

Despite increasing attention from academics and policy makers concerning the intersection of gender equality and competition law, most debates and discussions add gender to the analytical framework, economic calculation or survey, but fail to investigate the gender divisions that deeply bifurcate the structure of modern society, including legal rules, formal and informal institutions and enforcement practices. The implications of gendered lives, experiences and social realities on people’s preferences, choices and decisions in markets remain outside of such discussions. Therefore, feminist methodology and feminist social science research on gendered social realities remains a blind spot in current debates and discussions.

Remarkably, a similar blind spot exists in the diverse strands of feminist social science research, notably feminist legal and economic scholarship that has already been applied to various legal fields, but have engaged less thoroughly with the legal frameworks of market processes. Therefore, competition law has been a blind spot in these investigations so far.

By focusing on the central role of gender and women’s experiences, feminists take a contextualized lens and draw attention to the complexity of the economy, economic activities and the embeddedness of markets in broader social, economic and political contexts. Their analysis is multidimensional and pluralist, with a strong focus on human diversity and intersectionality. Feminist approaches go beyond merely adding gender to the analysis and investigate the deeper layers of legal rules, economic models and enforcement practices that entrench gendered power structures, dynamics, institutional arrangements and produce and reproduce various forms of inequalities.

From the richness of feminist methodologies, I draw on feminist legal theory, feminist (institutional) economics and feminist political economy to demonstrate how feminist approaches probe the alleged ‘neutrality’ and objectivity of competition law and to unpack the gendered nature (and impact) of its underlying legal rules, concepts and enforcement practices. I explore various assumptions embedded in existing competition rules and concepts, show which gender-based consequences the application of these rules and concepts may have and how policy makers and enforcers could implement gender into the substantive analysis of specific cases as well as into the procedures and institutional arrangements in the enforcement of competition law.

I argue that feminists’ analytical lens is, in fact, intimately related to the analytical lens of competition law. The focus of their analysis concern power structures and dynamics, investigate how various social and economic actors are impacted through these power inequalities and strive to control excessive power and change existing social, economic and political structures. However, the site and scope of their analysis differs. Competition law is concerned with market processes, structures and activities, while feminists repeatedly and forcefully called attention to those activities, processes and arrangements that lie outside of the market and the economy.

March 5, 2024 in Business, International, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Feminist Pedagogy in Legal Education

Jamie Abrams, Feminist Pedagogy in Legal Education, Oxford Handbook of Feminism & the Law in the U.S. (Deborah Brake, Martha Chamallas & Verna Williams, eds. 2023).

This chapter . . .  traces and evaluates the influences of feminism in legal education. It explores how feminist critiques challenged the substance of legal rules, the methods of law teaching, and the culture of legal education. Following decades of advocacy, feminist pedagogical reforms have generated new fields, new courses, new laws, new leaders, and new feminist spaces. This chapter captures many reasons to celebrate the accomplishments of our feminist pioneers and champions. It also serves as a critical call to action to modern faculty, administrators, and students to carry the work forward with a vigilant purpose and determination.

February 21, 2024 in Education, Law schools, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Book Review, In Pursuit of Collective Liberation in Feminist Constitutionalism

Yvette Butler, In Pursuit of Collective Liberation in Feminist Constitutionalism, 122(6) Mich. Law Rev. ___ (April 2024, Forthcoming).

Julie Suk’s book, After Misogyny responds to the tension between present day misogyny and the overarching gains women have made in American society. She does this by explaining that misogyny is not merely about physical violence toward women or hatred of women. Instead, she reframes misogyny as societal over-entitlement to women’s labor and men’s over-empowerment in the eyes of the law. Over-entitlement stems from the substantial benefits individual men and society reap from women—including their reproductive labor—without just compensation. Over-empowerment is about the explicit legal enforcement of that entitlement. Suk explores over-entitlement through the legal claim of unjust enrichment to describe how men and society have benefitted from women’s labor. She then ends on a recommendation to use the Takings Clause to remedy use of women’s reproductive capacities without compensation.

Throughout the book, Suk uses a variety of stories to illustrate her concepts. As someone who writes about epistemology within the critical race theory tradition, in particular, I found this use of narrative particularly enjoyable. Narrative is a particularly important and powerful way to understand how constitutional theory and law are shaped. The goal of reframing narratives and reinterpreting a constitution is to transform the rights and duties between people and the state. According to Suk, such a transformation is necessary to remedy societal over-empowerment. The result of that transformation: misogyny collapses and becomes democracy. Only through this transformation do women become equal citizens.

While I enjoyed Suk’s book and these transformative goals, portions of it gave me pause. Suk’s suggestions fall short of the radical transformations required to truly advance Collective Liberatory goals. As discussed in Section III.B., Collective Liberation seeks to avoid viewing justice as a zero-sum game. Instead, Collective Liberation acknowledges the interconnectedness of struggles against subordination. In my view, it counsels striving for the best version of justice – one that is truly transformative and does not merely shift scraps of rights between groups through reformist reforms. This issue will be the focus of this Review. Suk’s work is helpful for articulating reforms, but her recommendations could go even further. She seems to fall into the same trap of proposing reformist reforms that have the potential to perpetuate, rather than help address, gender injustice.

Ultimately, I see Suk’s book as an important contribution because her concepts of over-entitlement and over-empowerment can easily be applied to other issues. I have already recommended her book to several people when I have noticed that an entitlement/empowerment framing may be useful to their analysis. While prospective readers should not glean too much hope from the title—misogyny and the patriarchy are still alive and well—Suk’s book provides important guidance as to what misogyny really is and how to address it more effectively.

January 18, 2024 in Books, Constitutional, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Feminist Judgments: Immigration Opinions Rewritten

Kathleen Kim, Kevin Lapp & Jennifer Lee, Feminist Judgments: Immigration Opinions Rewritten (Introduction),  
Feminist Judgments: Immigration Law Opinions Rewritten , pp. 1 - 14, Cambridge University Press, 2023

This volume, part of the Feminist Judgment Series, shows how feminist legal theory along with critical race theory and intersectional modes of critique might transform immigration law. Here, a diverse collection of scholars and lawyers bring critical feminist, race, and intersectional insights to Supreme Court opinions. Feminist reason values the perspectives of outsiders, exposes the deep-rooted bias in the legal opinions of courts, and illuminates the effects of ostensibly neutral policies that create and maintain oppression and hierarchy. One by one, the chapters reimagine the norms that drive immigration policies and practices. In place of discrimination and subordination, the authors demand welcome and equality. Where current law omits the voice and stories of noncitizens, the authors center their lives and experiences. Collectively, they reveal how a feminist vision of immigration law could center a commitment to equality and justice and foster a country where diverse newcomers readily flourish with dignity.

December 12, 2023 in Books, International, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 27, 2023

Rachel Arnow-Richman on "Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Panes of Equity Partnership"

Rachel Arnow-Richman has posted Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Panes of Equity Partnership on SSRN. This article is forthcoming in the Florida International University Law Review. The abstract is excerpted here:

This Article . . . explores the partnership pay gap in large law firms and the role of high-profile litigation in facilitating pay equity. There is a rich literature and extensive data on the gender attainment gap in elite law practice, particularly with regard to women’s attrition from practice and poor representation within the partnership ranks. Less attention has been paid to the way in which the exceptional women who achieve equity partner status continue to lag behind their male peers. This Article explores “Women v. BigLaw,” a cluster of equal pay cases brought by women partners . . . against elite firms. [I]t reveals how the same unspoken beliefs that underlie the law firm glass ceiling operate above it, placing women partners at the bottom of a new compensation hierarchy centered on origination credit. Due to historical allocations, a culture of deference toward male rainmakers, and implicitly biased attorney development and evaluation practices, origination operates as a form of “legacy credit” that locks in preexisting entitlements favoring male partners. Despite this, gender equity in law practice has been framed principally as a professional value, not a legal imperative. Women v. BigLaw and the unprecedented use of the court system by women lawyers reveals, however, that partnership pay practices pose a liability risk to firms. This new reality may incent structural change in ways that attention to gender equity as a managerial and professional goal could not.

November 27, 2023 in Theory, Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Aya Gruber Publishes "A Tale of Two Me Toos"

Aya Gruber has published A Tale of Two Me Toos in volume 2023 of the Illinois Law Review. The abstract is excerpted here: 

What is #MeToo’s legacy? The conventional account currently being indelibly forged into our collective memory is that #MeToo was an unconditional progressive victory. It was a reckoning of the disempowered against the powerful that profoundly challenged sexist culture. This Article complicates and even counters that narrative by shining a light on #MeToo’s dark side, namely, its carceral and neoliberal messages and policy reforms. Although today’s George-Floyd-mindful feminists often describe #MeToo as having nothing to do with criminal law, the reality is that the movement featured familiar tough-on-crime discourses, passionately called for more criminal law and prosecutorial power, and, in fact, produced several new carceral laws and policies. Yet, just hours after famous actor Alyssa Milano sent the tweet heard around the world, Black Twitter revealed that Me Too already existed: Tarana Burke’s “me too movement.” This Me Too centered on survivors’ material and emotional needs, focused on young women of color living in socioeconomic precarity, and embraced noncriminal “transformative justice.” Milano’s #MeToo, by contrast, incorporated popular narratives of criminality, bolstered the legitimacy of the penal state, and relied on traditional notions of sex and gender. And it was Milano’s that became the Me Too. This Article contrasts the two Me Toos to critique the individualistic and punitive #MeToo movement that is and mourn the intersectional and restorative Me Too movement that could have been. #MeToo’s emphasis on sensational stories and social media derived evidence of “epidemics” effectively cut off debate, enabling carceral reforms to pass at a dizzying pace. This Article is the first to catalogue, describe, and examine the actual criminal laws and policies erected in #MeToo’s name. Even a surface analysis of these reforms reveals that, contrary to advocates’ claims, they do not just close “loopholes.” Instead, each new or broadened criminal law raises troubling issues of civil liberties, defendants’ rights, and state power, and each portends to sweep in people—including women—who bear little resemblance to the unrepentant monstrous offenders featured in #MeToo discourse.

November 27, 2023 in Gender, Theory, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Reviewing Clarke's Sex Discrimination Formalism

Leah Litman, Toggle Boggle, JOTWELL, reviewing Jessica A. Clarke, Sex Discrimination Formalism, __ Va. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2023), available on SSRN (Aug. 13, 2023).

What is sex discrimination? Or, more generally, what is discrimination?

This question has often centered around a few recurring divisions in constitutional and antidiscrimination law. One division is between intentional discrimination and disparate impact theories of liability; another break is between formal equality and substantive equality; another, related divide is between anti-classification theories of equality and anti-subordination theories.

In her timely new article, Sex Discrimination Formalism, Professor Jessica Clarke smartly unpacks the category of “formal equality” and shows that, at different points, it encompasses a family of different theories that sometimes travel together, but not always. Clarke argues that courts applying “formal” approaches to equality are sometimes using “but for” causation, asking whether some protected trait or characteristic is the but-for cause of differential treatment. But courts adopting a “formal” approach to equality sometimes use “anti-classification” theories of equality, asking if a protected trait or characteristic has been used to categorize or sort individuals. Finally, courts might use a “similarly situated” test that examines whether someone has been treated differently than someone who is “similarly situated” to them (but who does not have a particular trait or characteristic).

Clarke points out that Bostock v. Clayton County blended all of these different approaches as it engaged in a formal approach to Title VII. (In Bostock, the Court held that Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination because of sex entailed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.) That is, Bostock could plausibly maintain that all of the three theories pointed toward the same conclusion. But there are times when the different approaches might yield different results. For pregnancy discrimination, some courts have concluded that sex is a but-for cause of the discrimination. But courts applying a “similarly situated” or “anti-classification” test have rejected arguments that pregnancy discrimination is a kind of sex discrimination.

These differences are not just academic. They help clarify some of what is happening in recent decisions

November 21, 2023 in Constitutional, Gender, LGBT, SCOTUS, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 13, 2023

Prabha Kotiswaran on "Laws of Social Reproduction"

Prabha Kotiswaran has published Laws of Social Reproduction in volume 19 of the Annual Review of Law and Social Sciences. The abstract states: 

Feminists have long demonstrated the invisibility of women’s reproductive labor, performed in bearing and raising children, maintaining households, and socially sustaining male labor. Every wave of feminist struggle from the late nineteenth century onward has actively queried the inequalities that characterize women’s performance of such work, variously referred to as unpaid domestic and care work, domestic labor, or care work. Robust traditions of scholarship on women’s unpaid work animate various disciplines, often spilling into political struggles for adequate recognition of this work. As the pandemic has rendered visible once again the reproductive labor of women the world over, this article offers an overview of social reproduction theory, feminist legal theorizations of reproductive labor, and how we might recuperate a rich tradition of theorizing on social reproduction to develop a materialist approach to law’s regulation of reproductive labor across the marriage-market spectrum with a view to social and economic justice.

November 13, 2023 in Reproductive Rights, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Deep Disagreements in the Last Five Years of Equality Jurisprudence at the Supreme Court of Canada

Jennifer Koshan & Jonnette Watson Hamilton, "'Clarifications' or 'Wholesale Revisions'? The Last Five Years of Equality Jurisprudence at the Supreme Court of Canada" (2023) Supreme Court Law Review (Forthcoming)
Presented at the Asper Centre's Litigating Equality Symposium at the University of Toronto in May 2023

Over the past five years, the Supreme Court of Canada’s equality jurisprudence under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has revealed deep disagreements within the Court. This paper reviews the six decisions that comprise that jurisprudence, drawing out the major points of contention on the role of substantive equality, the test for section 15(1), adverse effects discrimination, causation, evidence, contextualization, and positive obligations. Our argument is that while the section 15 majorities in the first three decisions – Alliance, Centrale, and Fraser – attempted to respond to the critiques of equality-seeking groups, these decisions could not paper over the profoundly ideological disagreements embedded in equality rights jurisprudence, particularly in cases of systemic discrimination. In light of the recent push-back by a significant proportion of the Court in R v CP and a majority in Sharma, we also discuss the implications of the six decisions for equality-promoting litigation strategies going forward.

October 19, 2023 in Constitutional, Courts, Gender, International, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

A Theory of Perversity as an Outer Bound of Rational Basis Review

Professor Boone's theory discussed, and then applied to the contexts of abstinence-only sex education, mandatory arrest laws in domestic violence, and targeted regulation of abortion providers.

Meghan Boone, Perverse & Irrational, 16 Harv. Law & Policy Rev. (2022)  

In our system of representative democracy, legislatures are given a great deal of latitude to select and pass laws that they deem to be in the public interest. Assuming that no suspect class or fundamental right is involved, the Constitution has been interpreted to only require legislative action to satisfy rational basis review—a highly deferential standard that requires only that a legitimate purpose exist and the means adopted to achieve that purpose are rationally related to that purpose. Under rational basis review, legislatures can and do enact laws that are significantly over- or underinclusive to the identified problem. They can enact laws that do not even accomplish their intended purpose in most instances. They can even enact laws which are unsupported by any evidence, much less high-quality evidence. And yet . . . courts insist that rational basis review still means something. That it is something other than a blank check for legislatures to do as they will.

This Article explores one example of the outer bounds of rationality—demonstrated perversity. That is, a law that clearly contravenes the overarching legislative intent because the law is solely or primarily responsible for producing the opposite result of that intent. Although often unnamed as such, perversity presents itself across the legislative landscape, from mundane local ordinances to sweeping federal legislation. And while not explicitly recognized as a basis for finding a law unconstitutional, Supreme Court precedent clearly hints at the possibility that demonstrated perversity could be a basis for invalidating laws.

By defining perversity, identifying when and how it occurs, and exploring how it might be used to challenge the constitutionality of various government actions, this Article aims to illuminate an undertheorized corner of the already robust literature on rational basis review. It argues that current rational basis review precedent already employs a type of perversity analysis, although courts fail to explicitly acknowledge it as such. Moreover, it argues that modern changes in scientific and empirical methodologies and the explosion of the information economy demonstrate the need for this type of analysis; without it, rational basis review is meaningless. Ultimately, the Article concludes that while rational basis scrutiny gives legislatures wide latitude, courts must set a constitutional limit by striking down statutes which cause outcomes clearly counterproductive to legislative goals.

October 18, 2023 in Abortion, Education, Reproductive Rights, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)