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Senator Kennedy – Our Civil Rights Champion

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: August 26, 2009 at 09:45 pm

by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment, 
National Women's Law Center 

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Senator Kennedy: A Champion for Education

Posted by Neena Chaudhry, Senior Counsel and Director of Equal Opportunities in Athletics | Posted on: August 26, 2009 at 09:05 pm

by Neena Chaudhry, Senior Counsel, 
and Dina Lassow, Senior Counsel, 
National Women’s Law Center 

Along with others across the world, we mourn the passing of a legend today.  Senator Kennedy championed many causes, including the right to equal educational opportunities for all, regardless of race, sex, family income, language barriers, or disability.  One of his causes that is particularly near and dear to our hearts is Title IX. 

In addition to being a key supporter for passage of Title IX, Senator Kennedy led the fight to ensure that the reach of the law was as broad as originally intended.  In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled in Grove City College v. Bell that Title IX’s protection against discrimination was limited to the specific programs within a school that received federal funds.  This decision had devastating consequences because it meant that athletics programs, for example, would not be covered unless they received federal funds, which they typically did not.  It also meant that students were only protected against sexual harassment if the harassment took place in a dormitory or classroom that happened to have been built with federal aid – not one across the street.  Senator Kennedy came to the rescue and was the leading author of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988, which overturned the Supreme Court’s Grove City decision and required recipients of federal funds to comply with civil rights laws in all areas, not just in a particular program or activity that receives federal funding.

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Because of Ted Kennedy…

Posted by Grace Lesser, Program Assistant | Posted on: August 26, 2009 at 08:09 pm

by Grace Lesser, Program Assistant, 
National Women’s Law Center 

The day I graduated from college was electrifying. 10,000 people descended upon the Wesleyan campus – coming from near and far, some had connections to the University and others had never heard of it, some had a passion for politics and some were just curious. Barack Obama was our graduation speaker. It was a blazingly hot day, and as we passed through the metal detectors with our gowns draped over our arms, our excitement was shadowed by the sad reason for then-Senator Obama’s presence. He had come in place of our planned commencement speaker, Senator Ted Kennedy, who had recently been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

Obama’s commencement address focused on the predictable subjects: the breadth of the moment, our new responsibilities, the future to come. But it was also distinctly shaped by the absence and the example of Senator Kennedy. Just as Obama encouraged us stand up to the overwhelming challenges of health care, our educational system, and the environment, he was also channeling the Kennedy legacy. As he spoke about the importance of going into service, he was also referring to the lifelong commitment that Senator Kennedy had made to these very goals.

Obama’s voice boomed over the audience: It is rare in this country of ours that a person exists who has touched the lives of nearly every single American without many of us even realizing it. I thought about my own lifelong goals to make a meaningful contribution by fighting for the rights of women, and I realized that even in his absence that day, Senator Kennedy’s example was touching my life.

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Happy Women’s Equality Day!

Posted by Jill C. Morrison, Senior Counsel | Posted on: August 26, 2009 at 07:17 pm

by Jill Morrison, Senior Counsel, 
National Women's Law Center 

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Senator Kennedy: A Compassionate and Effective Champion for Women

Posted by | Posted on: August 26, 2009 at 06:34 pm

by Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President, 
National Women’s Law Center 

Not surprisingly in retrospect, when I began work on women’s rights in the early 1970s, Senator Kennedy was the very first Senator I met. I testified at a hearing he held in 1973, where he uncovered the coercive use of an experimental contraceptive drug on low-income and institutionalized women. Senator Kennedy showed enormous compassion and concern for the shameful plight faced by these women and great kindness and understanding when they came forward to testify. And he did not rest until government protections were promulgated to prevent such abuses in the future.

He mastered the intricacies of the laws at issue and what needed to be done to right the wrongs he had brought to light. And he put together a superb staff to carry out the strategy that he developed. I learned then what has been reinforced so many times since—that there was no more principled, more hard working nor more effective force in the fight for justice and a better life for all than Senator Kennedy.

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Commemorate Women's Equality Day…But Don't Break Out the Champagne Just Yet

Posted by NWLC, Intern | Posted on: August 26, 2009 at 05:46 pm

by Katie Carroll, Intern, 
National Women’s Law Center 

Today, as we reflect on the extraordinary legacy of Senator Edward Kennedy on behalf of women and their families, we also note that it is Women’s Equality Day – a day to commemorate the passage of the 19th amendment giving women full voting rights. But it’s also a day to remember the inequality that persists. 

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Senator Kennedy's Legacy on the Judiciary Committee – Bork and Beyond

Posted by Amy K. Matsui, Senior Counsel and Director of Women and the Courts | Posted on: August 26, 2009 at 04:44 pm

by Amy Matsui, Senior Counsel, 
National Women’s Law Center 

Senator Kennedy is rightly being remembered and celebrated for being a champion of legislation establishing and reinforcing civil rights protections for women during over four decades in the Senate.  But it should not be forgotten that he also worked to ensure that the protections set forth in legislation would not be given short shrift in the courtroom.

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