Monday, November 27, 2006

Early Reports on Ledbetter Supreme Court Oral Argument

4united_states_supreme_court_112904_12Update:  Here is the Ledbetter oral argument transcript from today. Here's a quote from Justice Scalia from the transcript that I think best shows the way the Court is heading in this case:

JUSTICE SCALIA: I don't really see a vast difference between a promotion and being elevated to a higher pay grade. I mean, there may be no different responsibilities but it's a single act of discrimination: "No, you're not going to move up to the next pay level." I don't see why that's different from "no, you're not going to move up to the next job."

Well, as reported in a previous post, the oral argument in the pay discrimination case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear took place today.

Here are some early reports of that argument from the AP:

Justices engaged in a lively, but inconclusive debate over how to apply a 180-day deadline for complaining about discriminatory pay decisions under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.


Eight justices joined in the questioning. Justice Clarence Thomas was, customary for him, silent, but he could play a pivotal role in deciding the case. Thomas once was chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is responsible for investigating workplace discrimination claims.

Applying the 180-day deadline to decisions made years ago makes no sense in a situation in which the disparity grew over time, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said.

Early on, "there is no reason to think there is going to be this inequality," she argued.

But Chief Justice John Roberts was skeptical that employees could "challenge the discrimination 15 years later."

Nothing to say exactly how the court will come out based on the above, but I too think that Justice Thomas will play a decisive role in this case in finding, consistent with the Morgan decision of four years ago, that this is a discrete act of discrimination case and Goodyear should prevail.  It might, however, only be a 6-3 or 5-4 decision because other Justices, like Justice Ginsburg, might see this as a case in which a disparity in employment terms grows over time, and thus does not take place on any particular day.

For further commentary on this case and its importance, see this FindLaw piece by Joanna Grossman (Hofstra) and Deborah Brake (Pitt), who wrote an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff in Ledbetter.

Hat Tip:  How Appealing


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Tracked on Nov 27, 2006 3:38:19 PM


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