Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Prof. Resnik's Brief History of the Role of Women's Concerns in Supreme Court Nomination Hearings

In a CNN opinion piece Prof. Judith Resnik traced the history of women's legal issues becoming a prominent factor in the history of Supreme Court nomination hearings.  The 1970 nomination hearing of George Harold Carswell was the first time that legal issues of importance to women were part of the inquiry.  Congresswoman Patsy Mink described Carswell of lacking any understanding of women's equality issues when he refused to review a case where a woman was denied a position because she had children, yet fathers were hired for that same position.  Carswell was rejected as was Robert Bork, whose hearing was held in 1987.  Judge Bork's opinion was that the equal protection clause did not protect women. He also referred to sexual harassment as "sexual escapades".

Prof. Resnik discusses the progressive influence of women's advocacy that led to the Clarence Thomas vote being delayed, a la Brett Kavanaugh.  Prof. Resnik's piece affirms the direct line of women's advocacy from the 70's to the present that has forced the consideration of issues important to women as a factor in Supreme Court nominees' hearings.  What remains to be seen with the Kavanaugh hearings is whether the vote will reflect the incremental progress of those advocating for women or whether we will observe a repeat of the Thomas hearings.

The full opinion piece may be read here.


Margaret Drew | Permalink


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