Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Small Business and Minimum Wage

Raising the minimum wage has been a topic of controversy this year.  Co-Editor Fran Quigley gives us important information on small business owners who support paying employees a living wage. 

Professor Quigley writes:

Although a substantial majority of Americans support increasing the federal minimum wage, some myths endure about the supposed dangers a wage hike would bring. The most insistent arguments are often put forward by so-called experts generously supported by multi-national corporations who pay their workers sub-poverty wages.

            There is the notion that raising the minimum wage will substantially decrease the number of jobs available. (Decades of research on the question has shown otherwise.) There is the idea that low-wage jobs are just teenage way stations along the path to a livable wage. (In our increasingly service-oriented economy, adults are usually the ones holding the poorest-paid jobs.)

            Some corporations even trot out a free market argument, skipping over the inconvenient fact that taxpayer-funded food and healthcare assistance is necessary to prop up the households of their employees.

            But one argument that may resonate most with Americans is the notion that a minimum wage hike will harm small businesses. As it turns out, one important group disputes that position: owners of small businesses.

            The organization Small Business Majority recently conducted a poll that showed that two-thirds of small business owners support increasing the minimum wage and adjusting it regularly to account for inflation. An even larger majority of small business owners reported already paying their workers salaries greater than the current minimum wage.

      The McDonald’s and Walmart business model may be built on exorbitant CEO salaries and referring their front-line employees to the welfare office, food pantries, and plasma banks. But that is not the way Mom and Pop stores want to operate, in part because low-paid workers have such limited purchasing power. “The biggest problem for Main Street businesses is lack of customer demand,” Business for a Fair Minimum Wage director Holly Sklar says. “Corporate profits are at their highest since 1950, as a percentage of national income, while the share going to employees is near its low point. We can’t build a strong economy on a falling wage floor.”

            Many Indianapolis business owners feel the same way. Recycle Force, a not-for-profit enterprise that employs formerly incarcerated men and women to recycle electronic waste, announced in February that it would be raising its own minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. That matches the target rate for the Fair Minimum Wage Act pending in Congress. It is also the hourly wage that President Obama recently ordered to be the floor for employees of federal contractors.

            Pizza King Indianapolis franchise owner Aaron Schaler has joined the cause, pledging to pay all of his workers over $10 per hour. Schaler announced the plan on the company’s Facebook page, saying “Not only do people deserve to make a living wage, but happy employees are productive employees.” Customers responded, saying the policy made them more likely to order their pizza from a company that treats its workers well.

            Gregg Keesling, the president of Recycle Force, has also received positive feedback for his wage hike decision. Small businesses benefit when their employees can sustain themselves on their take-home pay, Keesling says. “Non-profit and social enterprise business leaders should be at the forefront of this (minimum wage increase) movement. Raising our wages is smart for families, smart for crime prevention, and smart for business and growing our economy.

            “Most importantly, it is the right thing to do.”   

             

April 30, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sustaining Human Rights Lawyers Through Self-Care

I just returned from the AALS clinical conference held in Chicago. While I was unable to stay for the entire time, two days was sufficient to be refreshed by the energy and commitment of my clinical colleagues. The panel in which I participated focused on self-care. Pepperdine Clinician Brittany Stringfellow Otney organized the panel. In addition to Brittany and myself, Lynnette Parker of Santa Clara Law and Virgil Wiebe of St. Thomas School of Law presented on various aspects of trauma, the effect of trauma and methods for training students to effectively recognize the symptoms of trauma while avoiding or minimizing the impact of vicarious trauma. Self-care is essential in the human rights field.

All of us who engage in human rights work are exposed to traumatic narratives every day. Whether the exposure is through direct client contact, listening to students’ case summaries or reading cases, in some part of our humanity we have an emotional reaction. Our triumphs, big and small, bring us joy. Experiencing a broad range of emotions is helpful. When we can experience happiness as well as sadness, when we can maintain a sense of humor, we are living the human experience. But do we recognize when we are experiencing worry, sadness and negativity with an absence of joy?

I assume that all human rights workers have experienced times of sadness and exhaustion, even extended times of sadness and exhaustion. Without those experiences we cannot learn prevention. Through our learning to manage our work within appropriate boundaries, we can assist our students in managing the emotional aspects of their work and to appreciate the limits of the role that we play in our clients lives.

Some of the suggested readings and helpful tools that came out of the discussion are:

Professional Quality of Life Measurements  which provides a questionnaire for determining how we handle vicarious trauma.  A self-care assessment is available,  as well.

On line-videos such as Resilience Man  can jumpstart the discussion.

Other materials and tools are available on the AALS clinical conference website on the 2014 program page under the panel Motivating Self-Care.

The topic is a reminder that if we wish to train sustainable lawyers to continue our human rights work, then a priority must be paying attention to our triggers and emotional health.

April 29, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 28, 2014

National Human Rights Institutions

Despite considerable advocacy led by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the Columbia Human Rights Institute, the United States as yet has no national human rights institution tasked with overseeing U.S. compliance with international human rights obligations.  The LCCR and HRI produced a report on this issue in 2010.  More information on national human rights institutions is available from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights here.   Now, a just-published book deepens the analysis of the potential for NHRIs on the ground.  Chains of Justice, by Sonia Cardenas, published by University of Pennsylvania Press, examines the international proliferation of NHRIs and evaluates their impact through a series of case studies.    According to the blurb provided by the publisher,

    As human rights norms gained visibility at the end of the twentieth century, states began      creating NHRIs based on the idea that if international human rights standards were ever to take     root, they had to be firmly implanted within countries—impacting domestic laws and     administrative practices and even systems of education. However, this very position within a     complex state makes it particularly challenging to assess the design and influence of NHRIs:     some observers are inclined to associate NHRIs with ideals of restraint and accountability,     whereas others are suspicious of these institutions as "pretenders" in democratic disguise. In her     theoretically and politically grounded examination, Cardenas tackles the role of NHRIs, asking     how we can understand the global diffusion of these institutions, including why individual states     decide to create an NHRI at a particular time while others resist the trend. She explores the     influence of these institutions in states seeking mostly to appease international audiences as well     as their value in places where respect for human rights is already strong.

This work may provide useful grounding as both domestic advocates and the UN continue to press the U.S. to establish such a domestic body. 

April 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Co-Editor David Singleton is Honored with Harvard's Bellow Award

 Singletondheadshot[1]  David Singleton, a co-editor of this blog, was honored by Harvard Law School with the prestigious Gary Bellow Public Service Award.  The award is given to a graduate of the law school who has made a substantial contribution to social justice.  David, a professor with Chase (NKU) Law School, is executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center

Under his leadership, the Center has brought a human rights perspective to its representation of the incacerated.  More about the award and David's work may be read here.

April 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Breyer, Marshall and others Speak on The Future of Human Rights

On April 21, Georgetown Law Center hosted an interesting event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the New York Review of Books: an evening discussion on The Future of Human Rights.   Justice Stephen Breyer participated, along with retired Massachusetts Chief Justice Margaret Marshall and U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela Karlan, as well as others.  A brief summary of the discussion is here.  The event was recorded for C-Span, with the first panel here and the second panel here.  The wide-ranging conversation addressed economic and social rights, the universality of human rights, and comparative practices. 

 

 

April 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Human Rights and Justice for Juveniles

Jonathan Todres writes about the the harsh impact of "Direct File" statutes and the continuing challenges of bringing the U.S. into line with international human rights law on treatment of juveniles.

By Jonathan Todres

In the past decade, hard work by advocates for children have resulted in three significant Supreme Court decisions on juvenile justice.  In 2005, in Roper v. Simmons, the Supreme Court declared the death penalty to be “cruel and unusual” punishment as applied to juvenile offenders and thus unconstitutional.  Advocates then focused on sentences of life without possibility of parole (LWOP).  And in 2010, in Graham v. Florida, the Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to sentence juvenile offenders to life without parole for non-homicide defenses. Finally, in 2012, in Miller v Alabama, the Supreme Court extended its Graham ruling holding that all sentences of life without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders are unconstitutional.   These Supreme Court decisions bring US law in line with international human rights law (notably the Convention on the Rights of the Child, or CRC) on two key juvenile justice issues.

 However, as a new report reminds us, juvenile offenders still confront harsh treatment in many other ways in the criminal justice system. In Branded for Life: Florida’s Prosecution of Children as Adults under its "Direct File" Statute, Human Rights Watch reports that:

 Florida transfers more children out of the juvenile system and into adult court than any other state. In the last five years alone, more than 12,000 juvenile crime suspects in Florida were transferred to the adult court system…. [D]ata show that more than 60 percent of the juveniles Florida transferred to adult court during this period were charged with nonviolent felonies. Only 2.7 percent were prosecuted for murder.….The new data show that nearly 98 percent of the juveniles in adult court in Florida end up there pursuant to the state’s “direct file” statute, which gives prosecutors unfettered discretion to move a wide range of juvenile cases to adult court (including any 16- and 17-year-old accused of a felony), with no involvement by a judge whatsoever.

 Direct file statutes are just one means of diverting children into the adult system, an approach that is inconsistent with core principles of human rights law.  Article 37 of the CRC mandates that: imprisonment of a child shall be used “for the shortest appropriate period of time” and that “[e]very child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age.”

 Punishment for criminal actions is appropriate, but much more work remains to ensure that all state law treats each juvenile offender in a manner respects human dignity and is consistent with the age and maturity of that child.

 As the late Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” He did not say we are judged by how we treat only well-behaved children. It’s how we treat all children. Despite progress on significant juvenile justice issues in recent years, the latest evidence on direct file statutes reminds us that there is much more work to be done.

April 24, 2014 in Children, Jonathan Todres | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Teaching Human Rights in a Professional Responsibility Class

For the past few years, I’ve devoted a session of my Professional Responsibility course to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and their application to lawyers.  It has been a hit with my students and, I think, helps better prepare them for the practice of law.  So far as I know, this material is not currently included in any of the usual Legal Ethics textbooks, but I've reached out to a couple of the textbook authors so I hope that will change soon.

The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were unanimously endorsed by the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2011. The Guidelines set out a “respect, protect and remedy” framework for businesses as they address human rights issues in their internal and external business operations. While many advocates continue to call for a binding treaty on business and human rights to amplify the guidelines, considerable work has gone into developing monitoring platforms for business and human rights issues in the interim.

Like other businesses, law firms come within the scope of the Guidelines. To conform to human rights norms, law firms should not only advise their business clients about human rights obligations, but must also examine their own business practices. Two organizations have taken a lead in translating the Guiding Principles for the law practice context:  Advocates for International Development (A4D) in London; and Shift, a New York-based project where General Counsel John Sherman is leading the effort.  A4D's initial report on law firm implementation of the Guiding Principles is here.  A number of leading U.K. firms have taken this issue seriously and in March 2014, the Law Society of the U.K. issued a set of recommendations on how members might integrate the Guiding Principles into their practices.  According to the Law Society Report,

        Utilising the UNGPs, which reflect existing norms, will ensure our profession retains a
        competitive advantage in what is an increasingly globalised marketplace. More importantly,
        promoting business respect for human rights is the right thing to do. Particularly so for a
        profession like ours, which has a deep and abiding commitment to human rights, equality
        before the law and justice.

One of the Law Society's recommendations is that business and human rights be a required course of study for law students.

In the U.S., the ABA has endorsed the Guiding Principles, noting in its report that the Principles implicate lawyers' advice offered under Model Rule of Professional Conduct 2.1 and its state analogues.  Rule 2.1 requires lawyers to exercise “independent professional judgment and render candid advice” and permits them to “refer not only to law but to other considerations such as moral, economic, social and political factors that may be relevant to the client's situation.”  This reference to the Model Rules as well as A4D's exploration of how law firms can implement the Guiding Principles provide a strong link tying this directly back to the traditional Professional Responsibility curriculum.

          

               

April 23, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Student's Perspective of Human Rights Advocacy

This post reminds us of the importance of the student experiences in human rights advocacy.  Are we always keeping in mind the mentoring of the next generation of human rights researchers and advocates?

Human Rights Clinic students Charlotte Cassel and James Slater along with Professor Caroline Bettinger-Lopez at the entrance to the United Nations Palais des Naciones in Geneva.

Co-Editor Carrie Bettinger Lopez submits this post written by her student Charlotte Casal (3L):

On March 26, 2014, I was fortunate enough to give the opening remarks at a thematic hearing on the implications of Stand Your Ground (“SYG”) laws in minority communities before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (“IACHR”) in Washington, D.C. It was an incredible culmination of a year of hard work in the Miami Law Human Rights Clinic on stand your ground laws, gun violence, and domestic violence.

I represented the Human Rights Clinic at the hearing. We were joined by an incredible delegation of attorneys, advocates, and impacted individuals that included Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton; Jordan Davis’s father, Ronald Davis; and representatives from the Dream Defenders, Community Justice Project of Florida Legal Services, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (“NAACP”), and the Free Marissa Now campaign, which focuses on the case of Marissa Alexander. As a group, we spoke about the proliferation of stand your ground laws, and the devastating impact these laws have had on the Martin, Davis, and Alexander families, amongst others. We also spoke about the ways in which our government—at the federal, state, and local levels—is responsible for protecting people’s fundamental rights as well as ensuring public safety To hear the testimony of the parents of Trayvon and Jordan was a powerful moment and left a lasting impression on those in the room and those who were watching the live webstream.

It was also important to recognize that despite the proliferation of stand your ground laws across the country, much of the focus has been on Florida because of the many high-profile cases here. As Ms. Fulton said, “it started here in Florida and it should end here in Florida.” I agree strongly with her, and as a coalition we will not stop until we achieve justice.

The hearing followed the recent review of the United States by the United Nations Human Rights Committee. During that week, numerous committee members expressed concern that SYG laws in the United States are incompatible with the fundamental right to life, echoing much of the language of a report on domestic violence, gun violence, “Stand Your Ground” laws produced by our team for the committee.  I was fortunate to also represent the Human Rights Clinic during the UN review in Geneva, which is documented here and here.

Building on the momentum from Geneva, the hearing before the Inter-American Commission was perfectly timed. After countless conference calls, meetings, and draft after draft of documents, the day had finally arrived. As we finalized our testimonies, the significance of what we had already achieved hit me. In a few short months we had pulled together local, state, and national advocates, as well as impacted family members to testify before an international human rights tribunal to explain why these laws must ultimately be repealed. Each member of our coalition understood that this would not result in a binding decision, or any immediate change. But we all felt strongly that these laws are one of many broken parts of our criminal justice system. As Mr. Davis stated “Stand Your Ground all over this country [are] trumping the rights of human rights.”

One member of our coalition – a philosopher – explained to me her frustration with the legal system. She articulated her concern that lawyers are forced to work within the confines of the system, whereas philosophers are trained to think more expansively and ask questions about “what it means.” As I responded to her, I realized I was articulating what we have been learning all semester in the clinic: human rights law and human rights bodies offer a forum to ask the broader questions. They provide those of us who are unsatisfied with domestic law an option to pursue justice elsewhere.

Much as we expected, and nearly verbatim to what was said in Geneva, the statement made by the U.S. government representative at the IACHR hearing indicated that because SYG laws are state law, there was little the federal government could do about them. Although expected, this response was nevertheless frustrating. The federal government can take action—it can conduct civil rights investigations into states whose SYG laws spur civil and human rights violations, or it can condition federal funding to law enforcement on the elimination of SYG provisions. Most important, though, is that it ultimately falls upon the United States government as a whole to ensure that all of its citizens’ fundamental human rights are respected.

Despite the disappointing attitude of the federal government, with the international attention we have brought to the issue of SYG laws, I am confident that through our continued efforts, the U.S. government will be forced to listen. I am grateful to the Inter-American Commission and the United Nations for providing us with an open forum to discuss these laws and highlight the ways in which they discriminate against minority groups and exacerbate an already biased criminal justice system. Our work is far from over but we now have the world’s attention. When our domestic legal system fails to protect American citizens, we must seek justice elsewhere.

April 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Native American Onendaga Tribe Sues U.S. for Human Rights Violations

After hundreds of years of experiencing human rights violations, the Onendaga Nation has filed a complaint with the Inter- American Human Rights Commission. 

by Margaret Drew

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The Onedaga Nation has sued the state of New York and the federal government in the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.  The tribe’s petition was filed on April 15th after the tribe was unsuccessful in requesting that the US Supreme Court hear its appeal of lower courts' dismissal of its suit alleging violations of the treaties with the Nation.  One of the claims in the Inter-American petition is the pollution of Onendaga Lake. 

According to the Onedaga Nation's website, the complaint opens with the following language:

"The Onondaga People wish to bring about a healing between themselves and all others who live in this region that has been the homeland of the Onondaga Nation since the dawn of time. The Nation and its people have a unique spiritual, cultural, and historic relationship with the land, which is embodied in Gayanashagowa, the Great Law of Peace. This relationship goes far beyond federal and state legal concepts of ownership, possession or legal rights. The people are one with the land, and consider themselves stewards of it. It is the duty of the Nation’s leaders to work for a healing of this land, to protect it, and to pass it on to future generations. The Onondaga Nation brings this action on behalf of its people in the hope that it may hasten the process of reconciliation and bring lasting justice, peace, and respect among all who inhabit the area."

Jeanne Shenandoah, communications officer with the Onendaga Nation, stated that the lake “… has been extremely environmentally damaged and we have been having different negotiations and meetings going on for years, hoping to have this lake cleaned [until] it’s not toxic anymore”.  Onendaga Creek is polluted, as well.  “Both of these waterways hold very strong spiritual attachments for us,” she added, “These two places have very strong spiritual meaning to our people, and they have been extremely degraded by some multi-national corporations that have come along and have caused the entire shore line to be damaged and toxic.”

Even though the state of New York has ordered clean up the waterways, the New York state standards are much lower than standards than the Nation.

 2.5 million acres from Pennsylvania to Canada once belonged to the Onenendaga Nation.  The tribe has attempted to reclaim the land for preservation purposes but has been unsuccessful.  The US Supreme Court denied the tribe’s petition for cert this past  October. Joe Heath, the Nation’s attorney, presented the tribe’s claims to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, having exhausted all recourse in the courts of the United States.

While the tribe is aware that the Human Rights Commission cannot force a remedy with either the state of New York or the U.S. government, the tribe hopes to bring awareness to the violations against them that are ongoing and that are a continuation of human rights violations against the tribe the government for hundreds of years. 

“Our access to basic equality and justice was fundamentally denied by the United States’ courts,” said Tadodaho Sid Hill of the Onondaga Nation. “Now, we’re calling on the international community to help us reach a healing process following centuries of violations and broken promises.”

April 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sex Selection Abortion and US Lawmaking

Sital Kalantry writes about U.S. jurisdictions promoting bans on sex selection abortion and developing a global feminist view. 

 

South Dakota Recently Passed a Law Banning Sex Selection Abortion

 by Sital Kalantry

Many people are aware that in some countries sex selection by many individuals in favor of boys has been so dramatic that it has changed national sex ratios.  Without any intervention, for every 105 boys born there should be 100 girls born.  But in India, as of the 2011 census, the child sex ratio (ages 0 to 6) fell to an all-time low of 100 boys to 91 girls.  Sex ratios have been male-skewed over the course of many decades such that today there is an oversupply of men who desire to be married to women but cannot find partners.  As India’s national elections are occurring now, some men are demanding brides in return for votes.

 

Even if sex selection has lead to a large-scale public crises in some parts of India, why have eights states is the United States passed laws prohibiting sex selection abortion? Stace Nelon, a Republican state representative running for US Senate from South Dakota, which passed a ban last month says: “I spent 18 years in Asia . . .And sadly, I can tell you that the rest of the world does not value the lives of women as much as I value the lives of my daughters.”  Don Haggar, a Republican state representative, stated added "[t]here are cultures that look at a sex-selection abortion as being culturally okay.  And I think that's a good thing that we invite them to come, but I think it's also important that we send a message that this is a state that values life, regardless of its sex.”

 

According to the New York Times, parties have seized up abortion as an issue in the mid-term elections in the United States with sex selection being on the priority list.  In an interesting twist, here is a campaign ad brought by a Republican candidate in Michigan against the Republican incumbent for his failure to support a ban on sex selection abortion.

 

A student in my International Human Rights Clinic, Fredrick William Watson, analyzed voting records across the six state legislatures that have passed laws banning sex selection abortions in the last four years (the other two states that have banned them – IL and PA—adopted these bans in 1984 and 1989 respectively). On average, 92% of the Republican elected representatives voted in favor of these bans across each state legislature that passed that sex selection prohibitions. On the other hand, 30% of Democrats voted in those state legislatures and 60% voted against them.   

 

Is son-preference based sex selection abortion prevalent in the United States?  Have bans on sex selection abortion changed sex ratios in states that adopted them in the 1980's?  What harms might sex selection bans cause (intended or unintended) in the U.S.?  If we are trying to prevent people from acting on their son-preference, then why do these laws not ban sex selection that can be done prior to implantation of the embryo?  Does the sex selection abortion prohibition stop a human rights violation or is it itself a human rights violation? Stay tuned for this and more information to be released in a report by the University of Chicago International Human Rights Clinic, in collaboration with economists and partner organizations which will demonstrate that these laws are based in  limited information and anti-immigrant views and do more harm than solve a purported problem that exists in the United States.  Separately, I conducted an analysis of legislative history of other sex selection laws in the United States in an article that was recently published and begin to develop a global feminist approach to understanding sex selection abortion.

 

 

 

April 18, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

New Work on Inequality: "A Court for the One Percent"

Professor Michele E. Gilman, a prolific author on poverty issues, has written the forthcoming article in Utah Law Review: " A Court for the One Percent: How the Supreme Court Contributes to Inequality."  The article rounds up the Court's recent jurisprudence on campaign finance reform alongside longstanding doctrines on education, wealth classifications and violence against women and delivers a stinging critique.  The author's abstract is here:

Abstract:     

This Article explores the United States Supreme Court’s role in furthering economic inequality. The Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 not only highlighted growing income and wealth inequality in the United States, but also pointed the blame at governmental policies that favor business interests and the wealthy due to their outsized influence on politicians. Numerous economists and political scientists agree with this thesis. However, in focusing ire on the political branches and big business, these critiques have largely overlooked the role of the judiciary in fostering economic inequality. The Court’s doctrine touches each of the major causes of economic inequality, which includes systemic failures of our educational system, a frayed social safety net, probusiness policies at the expense of consumers and employees, and the growing influence of money in politics. In each of these areas, the Court’s deference to legislative judgments is highly selective and driven by a class-blind view of the law that presumes that market-based results are natural, inevitable, and beneficial. For instance, the Court rejects government attempts to voluntarily desegregate schools, while deferring to laws that create unequal financing for poor school districts. The end result is that poor children receive subpar educations, dooming many of them to the bottom of the economic spectrum. Similarly, the Court overturned Congress’s attempt to rein in campaign financing, while upholding state voter identification laws that suppress the votes of the poor. These decisions distort the electoral process in favor of the wealthy. In short, the Court tends to defer to laws that create economic inequality, while striking down legislative attempts to level the playing field. While a popular conception of the Court is that it is designed to protect vulnerable minorities from majoritarian impulse, the Court, instead, is helping to protect a very powerful minority at the expense of the majority. This Article is one step toward understanding how law intertwines with politics and economics to create economic inequality.

****

The article does not explicitly engage with human rights analysis as an alternative framework,  but as I have written elsewhere, the issues of inequality raised by the Occupy movement are not easily mapped onto formal human rights norms.  Nevertheless, Gilman's analysis cries out for the development of new legal doctrines with less devastating human impacts, of which a domestic human rights framework may be one.

April 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Where There is a Will, There is a Way

Penny Venetis calls upon the U.S. to implement all Human Rights Treaties.  Is the U.S.  morally flawed in focusing its efforts on international trafficking while ignoring other vulnerable populations? 

 Where There is a Will, There is a Way:  The U.S. Should Implement All Human Rights Treaties That it Has Ratified With the Same Vigor That It Has Shown in Attempting to Eradicate Human Trafficking.

by Penny Venetis

The United States continues to come under criticism by the international community for failing to implement human rights treaties that it has already ratified, and for failing to ratify other major human rights treaties.   This was demonstrated most recently in 2013, when Congress rejected the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which has been ratified by 128 countries.   Even though the treaty was modeled on our very own forward-thinking Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and supported by Republican stalwarts like former Senator Bob Dole, the treaty died in the Senate in a 61 to 38 vote.

The United States has ratified only four of seven foundational international human rights treaties: the Genocide Convention in 1988; the ICCPR in 1992; CERD in 1994; and the Convention Against Torture also in 1994.  Remarkably, it took the U.S. nearly 40 years to ratify the uncontroversial Genocide Convention.  But, these treaties remain unenforceable domestically because Congress has saddled them with RUDs, or “reservations, understandings and declarations.” The most extreme type of RUD is the “non-self executing” RUD, which stays treaty enforcement indefinitely, unless Congress passes enabling legislation to enforce the treaty.  As such, what should be powerful declarations of fundamental rights are empty ceremonial pronouncements.

Adding insult to injury, Congress’s implementing legislation to enforce two of these four treaties -- Genocide Convention and Torture Convention -- radically watered them down; so much so, that our country, sadly, is still engaged in an active debate over whether our government should engage in torture.

The only notable exception to the U.S.’s poor human rights treaty ratification and implementation record is the “Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children,” part of the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.  This is the only human rights treaty ratified by the U.S. that has been  implemented with rigor.

  The United States ratified the “Palermo Protocol” in 2000, and immediately set to work on enforcing it.  Congress passed domestic implementing legislation in the form of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA).  The TVPA was re-authorized and strengthened four times since then-in 2003, 2006, 2008, and most recently in 2013.   Additionally, every state has enacted and implemented both criminal and civil anti-trafficking laws that mirror the Palermo Protocol and TVPA.   Legislatures have also made money available to train law enforcement in anti-trafficking techniques, and for anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns.

This is not to say that all aspects of federal and state anti-trafficking laws are perfect.  The money allocated for training barely scratches the surface.  Also, sex trafficking victims who are prostituted (including children) are processed through the criminal justice system and prosecuted, rather than being given needed services.  Although they may move to expunge their criminal records, they still suffer great harm by being treated as criminals rather than victims.

But, it is laudable that the U.S. has finally taken its international responsibilities seriously.  The human rights community should use the U.S.’s embrace of the Palermo Protocol as a advocacy tool.  We should argue that Congress and all 50 states have shown that they are fully capable of enforcing a human rights treaties domestically, and taking action to try to end horrendous abuses.  If government, at all levels, can coalesce around ending modern day slavery, then it can certainly do the same to eradicate torture, racism and other abuses that the U.S. has promised the world it would end. 

Human rights advocates can de-mystify human rights treaties and urge their enforcement by pointing to the TVPA and comparable state laws.  Anti-trafficking laws show that where there is a will, there is a way to enforce our human rights obligations.  Those laws also show that international treaties should not be treated with suspicion as “foreign” or “other.”   Rather, they should and can be embraced and enforced as the “supreme law of the land,” as envisioned by the Constitution.

 

 

April 16, 2014 in Penny Venetis | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Lantos Human Rights Commission and U.S. Human Rights

This year, with the ICCPR and CERD reviews, along with the pending UPR review, wouldn’t it be an appropriate time for a congressional hearing on US human rights compliance?  A few weeks ago, Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) spoke at Northeastern Law School.   Rep. McGovern has a long-time interest in human rights, dating back to his time as a Hill staffer working human rights in El Salvador, and he is now the co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the House of Representatives. 

When I first heard about the Human Rights Commission, I was excited.  Efforts to create a true national human rights institution – a U.S. Human Rights Commission that would implement human rights obligations domestically – have faltered.  Perhaps, I thought, the Lantos Commission was the next best thing: a broad-based, bipartisan body dedicated to addressing human rights issues.

The Lantos Commission website explains that it is a successor to the House Human Rights Caucus, institutionalized through an authorizing resolution in 2008, and that its mission is “to defend and advocate for internationally recognized human rights norms.”  Among other things, the Commission shall:
• Develop congressional strategies to promote, defend and advocate internationally recognized human rights norms reflecting the role and responsibilities of the United States Congress.
• Raise greater awareness of human rights issues among Members of Congress and their staff, as well as the public.
• Provide expert human rights advice to Members of Congress and their staff.
• Advocate on behalf of individuals or groups whose human rights are violated or are in danger of being violated.
• Collaborate closely with professional staff of relevant congressional committees on human rights matters.
• Collaborate closely with the President of the United States and the Executive Branch, as well as recognized national and international human rights entities, to promote human rights initiatives in the United States Congress.
• Encourage Members of Congress to actively engage in human rights matters.

Though I’m sure that the Commission also works behind the scenes, one of its major activities is holding weekly hearings on human rights issues.  Many of these hearings are webcast, and they provide a forum for airing many important human rights issues.

Unfortunately, when I looked over the list of the Commission’s hearings, I saw that it’s no substitute for the sort of U.S. Human Rights Commission that many have advocated for.  The Lantos Commission’s attention to human rights in the U.S. has been minimal. Recent hearings addressed issues in Honduras, Burma, Colombia, Turkey, and India.  A hearing last year on global violence against women looked abroad, rather than at our nation’s own track record.  I had to scroll back to 2011 to find a hearing that directly addressed human rights issues in the U.S.:  “The United States’ Government’s Relationship with the Human Rights Council.”   There were no hearings examining the criminalization of homelessness in the U.S., or the displaced persons after Hurricane Katrina, or mass incarceration, all serious human rights issues facing the U.S. that have attracted the interest of UN monitoring bodies and UN special experts.  Isn’t it time that the Lantos Commission caught up to the U.S. human rights movement and began airing these issues along with human rights issues elsewhere in the world?  

April 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Access to Justice as a Human Right - Part II

Make Access to Justice Part of the Global Development Agenda

 By Lauren E. Bartlett

 Building on my post last month on the right to counsel, I want to tell you about an opportunity to keep access to justice in the spotlight here in the U.S. and also on the international level.   There is a growing movement to press U.N. Member States to declare that justice, the rule of law, and legal empowerment, are essential principles in the new U.N. post-2015 development goals.  Last year, the Open Society Foundations and very notable people, including President Jimmy Carter, Madeleine Albright, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, made an appeal to the U.N. Member States to include justice in the goals. International groups have also included access to justice in draft post-2015 goals.  This movement presents a unique opportunity for U.S. human rights advocates.  If the U.S. government were to take on an international leadership role towards making access to justice a main part of its international platform, this could keep access to justice central to U.S. policy, as well as help advance the right to counsel and other access to justice causes here in the U.S.

 

As background, in 2000, the U.N. General Assembly passed the Millennium Declaration, which provided the basis for a new global initiative to reduce extreme poverty, support development and protect the environment.  The Millennium Declaration led to eight significant and measurable goals that became known as the Millenium Development Goals (“MDGs”), aimed at: 1) halving global poverty and hunger; 2) ensuring universal primary education; 3) promoting gender equality and empowering women; 4) vastly reducing child mortality; 5) improving maternal health; 6) halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; 7) ensuring environmental sustainability; and 8) creating a global partnership for development, by 2015.  The U.S. joined 189 world governments in 2000 in committing to achieving the MDGs. President Obama has reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the MDGs and the U.S. has played a leading role in the success of reaching some of the goals, including reducing extreme poverty rates by half and also halving the number of people without access to improved sources of water.  With the target date quickly approaching, the U.N. is working to build on the success of the MDGs by developing post-2015 development goals, which are expected to be adopted by U.N. Member States at a Summit in September 2015.  There is ample time for the U.S. to step up and take the lead on this issue, but the sooner the better. 

 

What U.S. advocates could hope for in the near future is perhaps an equivalent to the speech that Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made declaring “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights”.  Perhaps in years to come we could also hope for the launch of corresponding federal programs, such as the programs launched by the State Department and other federal agencies to support and defend LGBT rights abroad.  Whether due to internal pressure, international pressure, or most likely otherwise, the LGBT rights movement has made great progress in the U.S. in last few years.  The access to justice movement could benefit greatly from even a little of the overall success that the LGBT movement has seen recently. 

 

Pressing the U.S. to take a leadership role to make access to justice part of the post-2015 development goals is also the right thing to do.  There is much evidence that shows that justice drives development, helps fight poverty, and eliminate discriminatory practices.  Moreover, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. State Department have both developed cutting-edge rule of law programs and have spent billions of dollars worldwide.  The American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative is world-renowned.  U.S. foundations, such as the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundations, have also taken the lead in establishing international justice programs to drive development and fight poverty around the world.  The U.S. has much to be proud of and to promote in terms of both its justice system and its work to establish strong, effective and equal justice systems around the world.  It would be a natural and appropriate step for the U.S. to take the lead and make access to justice part of the post-2015 development goals.

April 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Maintaining Dignity for a Transgendered Incacerated Woman

 
Co-Editor David Singleton discusses a case of transgendered prisoner seeeking to maintain her therapy and her identity as a woman:

Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect – no matter what mistakes they have made.   But for people serving  time in prison, being treated inhumanely is the norm.  

 Consider the  case of Whitney Lee, a transgender woman currently incarcerated in Ohio’s prison system.  Born anatomically male, Whitney’s true identity is female.  For the past fifteen years, Whitney has lived her life as a woman.  Prior to her current incarceration, she had been undergoing estrogen hormone therapy since 1999 so that her body could look more feminine.  But soon after she entered the Ohio prison system in 2012, prison officials cut off her estrogen abruptly.  The discontinuation of hormone therapy wreaked havoc on Whitney, both physically and emotionally.  The breast tissue that Whitney began to develop withered.  Her facial hair returned.  And she became severely depressed.

 Whitney fought back.  Like many people in prisoner, she initially filed her case on her own.  But eventually she reached out to the Ohio Justice & Policy Center ("OJPC") for help, and OJPC took the case.  Recently, federal district court Judge Algenon Marbley granted Whitney’s motion for a temporary restraining order requiring prison officials to resume Whitney’s hormone therapy. 

 Cases like Whitney’s remind us that  no one should be stripped of her or his  human dignity, and that we must push back hard when it happens.

  Image2013-09-17-112839

 You may read more here.

April 11, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

CERD: U.S. Ratification at 20

Co-Editor Risa Kaufman discusses U.S. compliance under CERD and the symposium that will mark the 20th anniversary of the U.S. ratification:

May 2nd Symposium Marks 20th Anniversary of U.S. Ratification of the CERD

Risa E. Kaufman, Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute

What’s been the impact of U.S. ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination?   When the U.S. ratified the CERD in 1994, it committed itself to prohibiting and eliminating racial discrimination “in all its forms.” The CERD’s anti-discrimination and equality provisions are broader than U.S. Constitutional equal protection guarantees.  They prohibit policies that have a disparate impact, regardless of discriminatory intent, and require that governments take affirmative measures to remedy discrimination.

So, twenty years later, is the U.S. in compliance with its commitments under the treaty?  U.S. advocates will have a chance to weigh in on this question this coming summer, when the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reviews the United States under the treaty’s periodic review mechanism.  The United States filed its periodic report to the CERD Committee in June 2013, detailing its progress towards meeting its obligations under the CERD.  Over the summer, NGOs and other interested parties can submit their own alternative or “shadow” reports on U.S. compliance with the CERD.  And, in August, the CERD Committee will conduct an in-person review of the United States through an interactive, constructive dialogue at the United Nations in Geneva.  As with the ICCPR review earlier this month, many U.S. advocates are planning to attend.

On May 2, 2014, in advance of the formal review, the Bringing Human Rights Home Lawyers' Network will host a day-long symposium and CLE to examine the history and impact of U.S. ratification of the CERD and engagement with the CERD Committee, and explore possibilities for ensuring U.S. accountability for its human rights commitments.  Through the symposium, participants can gain a deeper understanding of the scope of protections under the CERD, opportunities it offers for engaging with the treaty monitoring body and government officials, and strategies for integrating the CERD framework to advance social justice advocacy.

This free full-day program will be hosted by Skadden Arps in its NYC Times Square office. Participants are eligible to receive 6 NYS CLE credits.  The program is co-sponsored by Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute; Northeastern University School of Law, Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy; Poverty and Race Research Action Council; American Civil Liberties Union; NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. & Race Research

It’s open to all who are interested in domestic implementation of human rights.  Please feel free to circulate widely.   

Click here for the agenda and to register.

April 10, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Solitary Confinement and Human Rights Abuses

Solitary confinement is one of the US prison practices found to be a human rights violation during the recent UNHuman Rights review of US compliance with the ICCPR

The current practice of solitary confinement reaches far beyond the original concepts of the Quakers and Anglicans who promoted the idea.  In 1839, members of both traditions recommended that each prisoner be held in a separate cell that would radiate out from a central guard location.  The thought was to initiate reform through solitude.  The expectation was that those confined to prison would reform through reflection developed during their isolation.  The isolation was not intended to be total. The warden was required to visit prisoners daily and the prisoners could consult with chaplains.  Isolation was thought to both punish and rehabilitate.  The confined were given the opportunity to become penitent when forced to consider their actions during the quiet of isolation.  The expectation of prisoner penitence gave way to calling these prisons “penitentiaries”. Eastern (PA) State Penitentiary was hoped to be the model penitentiary influenced by Quaker concepts.

In “Solitary Confinement: A Brief History” by Shelby Biggs, the author reflects that the development of prisons in the early 1800’s removed from communities the power to determine how offenders would be punished.  Prisons were considered a more humane method of punishment particularly with the later addition of a rehabilitation component. 

Now legendary is Charles Dickens' 1842 visit to Eastern State (PA) Prison, which was designed with  Quakers and Anglican principles in mind.  His goal was to assess how the social experiment in punishment and rehabilitation combined with reflection was progressing.  Dickens was shocked at the conditions he found.  "The system here, is rigid, strict and hopeless solitary confinement," Dickens concluded. "I believe it…to be cruel and wrong...I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain, to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body."    

The practice has continued with devastating results.  Some states have taken limited measures to reduce the use of solitary confinement.  New York has agreed to prohibit the use of solitary confinement (punitive segregation unit) for disciplinary purposes for juveniles and those who are pregnant or developmentally disabled.  But serious adverse consequences reach beyond prisoners in those categories.  Mary Buser, former Chief of Mental Health at Riker’s Island, wrote about her experiences working with those in solitary confinement and the disturbing mental health consequences on the prisoners she observed.  She describes the occupants’ mental health decomposition as “swift”, even where the occupant had no prior mental health diagnosis. Buser describes inmates who cower in corners, sometimes naked.  She speaks of blood smeared walls, makeshift nooses and shell shocked faces.  Only at the point of impending death or serious injury were inmates removed to a specialized unit at a different facility.

Limiting categories of those who will not be placed into solitary confinement is not enough.  Given our prison culture, such “reforms” are slow and insufficient. 

 Buser concludes: “Having worked 'behind bars' for five years in various capacities, I understand the rationale for solitary — the need to safeguard correctional staff, maintain jailhouse order and manage “high risk” inmates. If, however, the United States is truly to be the champion of human rights that Americans say we are, then surely we can find more humane methods of achieving these goals.”

April 9, 2014 in Incarcerated, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Seeking Justice for the Wrongfully Convicted Who Pleaded Guilty

Co-Editor Brian Howe discusses the difficulties presented when those convicted through "Alfred" pleas attempt to later prove their innocence:

Every wrongful conviction has its own story, and exonerations tend to be rare enough that they're typically treated as unique events.  That's fair enough-- an exoneration is usually a great story-- but there are trend lines and commonalities we can see by taking a step back and looking at the broader picture. 

 Along these lines, the National Registry of Exonerations has released data on the total exonerations nationwide in 2013.  Some of the recent trends are particularly interesting.  Exonerations based on DNA have continued to decline, even as the total number of exonerations hit a record high at 87.  Even more interesting is the increasing number of exonerations where an actually innocent person pleaded guilty.

"Fifteen of the 87 known exonerations in 2013 – 17% – occurred in cases in which the defendants were convicted after pleading guilty, also a record number. Such cases used to be far less common. The long-term rate has doubled since 2008, and the actual number continues to climb."

 The Registry explains the trend as one of increasing resources and attention:

 "Exoneration stories often note with approval that the defendant “always protested his innocence.” On the other hand, innocent defendants who plead guilty have a much harder time getting attention and help from anybody – friends and relatives, the media, innocence projects, prosecutors, police, courts. *** The pattern of exonerations in 2013 suggests that we are increasingly willing to consider and act

on the types of innocence claims that are often ignored [including] judgments based on guilty pleas by defendants who accepted plea bargains to avoid the risk of extreme punishment after trial."

 If true, this would be an encouraging sign.  As a legal matter, a guilty plea is almost always an admission of actual guilt.  As a practical matter, it can sometimes be a recognition by an actually innocent person that the odds are stacked against them. The power of prosecutors to pressure defendants into a plea is not breaking news. Over 40 years ago, the US Supreme Court endorsed the validity of "Alford pleas," in which a person maintains his or her innocence, but pleads guilty in order to lessen the probability of harsh sentencing after a trial. Despite the acknowledgment that it may be rational for an innocent person to plead guilty, most states have erected almost insurmountable barriers to later withdrawing that plea on the basis of new evidence. If increased attention to guilty pleas continues to lead to more exonerations, then courts and legislators may be increasingly exposed to the fact that the innocent can and do sometimes plead guilty, and the cycle may become self-perpetuating. 

April 8, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Immigrant Fairness, ICE and Secure Communities

Co-Editor Leigh Goodmark and Alex Tsouristakis write about their efforts to provide safety for immigrants by promoting leglislation to relieve local police from enforcing federal immigration policy:

The Gender Violence Clinic at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law recently joined with the Maryland ACLU and a coalition of several social justice groups, including CASA de Maryland and a number of religious groups, to support a bill that would prevent Maryland police from being forced to carry out federal civil immigration detainers under the Secure Communities program. The bill, which was sponsored by Delegate Gutierrez in the House and Senators Ramirez, Raskin, Montgomery, and several of their colleagues in the Senate, was modeled after a similar act that passed in California last year after much debate. Another bill based on the California bill passed in Connecticut, with unanimous votes in both houses.

The Maryland Law Enforcement Trust Act is a response to Secure Communities, a federal immigration program that allows Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take any biometric data the police record from people who have been arrested and use it scan the federal immigration database for any violations. At the same time, ICE can request that the police department hold a person for two business days beyond their normal release date, even if they haven't been charged with a crime and would ordinarily be free to go.

Under the bill, Maryland police would be restricted from carrying out these ICE holds, denying bail based on the presence of an immigration detainer, and investigating people solely on the suspicion of an immigration violation. In addition, law enforcement would be instructed not to make inmates available for interviews with federal immigration officers without written consent and counsel present. The bill is designed not to interfere with the normal criminal process, but to prevent abuses of the process on the basis of immigration violations.

Supporters of the bill testified on several issues, including the excessive costs to the state caused by immigration enforcement, the effects on safety and security in the community, and the chilling effect on undocumented victims of crime of the possibility of being arrested if they call law enforcement. In addition, a number of people came to share personal stories of how the federal program had affected them or people close to them, from a worker kept in sweatshop-like conditions out of fear of being deported by the police, to a priest who has seen two youth group leaders deported with no warning.

Members of the Gender Violence Clinic testified about the effects of immigration detainers on undocumented victims of domestic violence, citing two stories of women who had sought police protection, only to be caught up in Secure Communities, detained, and separated from their children. Stories like this spread through the community, and undocumented victims, who are already less likely to report crimes and abuse than documented victims and citizens, are thoroughly afraid to call the police when they know they might be deported as a result. When communication breaks down between the police and victims of crime, the police are unable to do their jobs and criminals and abusers can run rampant in the community.

In order to ensure compliance, the bill requires that state and local correctional facilities prepare yearly reports on the status of immigration detainers in the state. Each report would include the number of individuals held on immigration detainers, the number of days that individuals were held past their normal release date due to a detainer, the reason for arrest for each individual held because of a detainer, and the number of individuals transferred to federal immigration authorities. By requiring this information, the bill would prevent officers from “screening” for potential undocumented immigrants and ensure that inmates are not being held past their release dates.

Unfortunately, the bill received unfavorable reports in both houses in Maryland, and was withdrawn in the House as of 3/31. However, the issues it addressed continue to be an important part of the larger immigration reform debate, and advocates, including the Gender Violence Clinic, will continue to work toward reform.

April 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mayors, Equal Pay and Human Rights

Once again reflecting the influence of local elected officials to influence human rights policy, this week Mayor Anne Parker of Houston, Texas proposed legislation that would adopt a Human Rights Commission for the city.   Under the proposed plan, the city’s inspector general, along with the seven member commission, would review discrimination complaints lodged against city businesses. The ordinance would prohibit discrimination in public accommodations including bars and restaurants.   The legislation would essentially incorporate non-discrimination policies currently in effect with major corporations into local city businesses.  Mayor Parker noted that Houston was the only major U.S. city “without civil rights protections for its residents” noting that 185 cities and counties across the country have passed anti-discrimination legislation.  I cannot help but wonder about the ripple effects of Salt Lake City’s Mayor Becker’s visit to Geneva as part of the U.S. delegation to the U.N. review of U.S. compliance with the ICCPR.  (Martha Davis blogged about the Mayor’s appearance.)  Often we are most influenced by our peers and it is seems that local officials are those most interested in promoting human rights initiatives.  Language changes promote cultural shifts.  If local officials are discussing discrimination with human rights language then citizens will become comfortable with the terminology, creating an opening for the discussion of human rights principles and goals to a broader audience.  Mayor Parker gave several examples of Houston’s need for a human rights commission.  Among those examples was that an older woman should not be denied a job on a city contract.  While one critic of the proposed commission claimed that there are sufficient state and federal laws in place to protect against discrimination, apparently that is not the case.  The US Congress will consider the Paycheck Fairness Act  as early as next Tuesday.   If you are born a white women in the United States you earn 77% less than men. If you are an African American woman you are earning 64% of what white men earn.  According to Mom’s Rising, a Columbia University study found that with equal resumes and job experiences, mothers were offered $11,000 lower starting salaries than non-mothers. (Fathers, on the other hand, were offered $6,000 more in starting salaries than non-fathers.) When Congress passed the Equal Pay Act in 1963,  women earned 59 cents for each dollar earned by a man.  Over the past fifty years we have closed the pay differential by only 18 cents.  The consequences of unequal pay are obvious.  Women are poorer in retirement and have fewer resources for supporting their families.   The ability of women to extract themselves from poverty is delayed if not defeated by unequal and inadequate pay.  Hopefully Congress will take a lead from local politicians and recognize the injustice of unequal pay as a human rights violation.

 

April 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)