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Marriage is Just the Beginning for Equality

Standing in front of the Supreme Court on the morning of June 26th, 2015 is a moment I will never forget. Rainbow flag in one hand, the news open on my cell phone in the other, I stood ready for a decision on marriage equality. The moment the Court announced that every state in the country must allow same-sex couples to marry, a cheer went up from the crowd. Couples kissed, flags were waved, and newscasters announced that it was the “culmination” of decades of activism.

Although that day was truly a day of celebration, do not take our joy as a signal that LGBTQ people are now equal. Equal marriage does not mark the end of the fight for equality for LGBTQ people. President Obama was right when he said the decision that day “made our union a little more perfect.” However, it is only a little more perfect. We still have a very long way to go before LGBTQ people are equals under the law. Read more »

Women Win: Wrapping Up the Supreme Court 2014-2015 Term

The 2014-2015 Supreme Court Term witnessed a number of blockbuster cases affecting women’s rights, from health care, to marriage equality, to housing discrimination, to pregnancy discrimination and other workplace protections. Several of these cases led to historic victories, while others resulted in positive, but more limited, decisions. Read more »

Waiting for High Court After Its Stay of Texas Anti-Abortion Provisions

This post is cross-posted from ACSLaw's blog

On Monday, the Supreme Court stayed enforcement of key provisions of HB2—Texas’ sweeping anti-abortion law—pending the Court’s decision whether to hear an appeal in the case. Only 9 abortion clinics would have remained open in the state had the law gone into effect leaving over 1.3 million women of reproductive age [PDF] more than 100 miles from the nearest abortion clinic.

The Fifth Circuits Unsound Reasoning Read more »

Love Wins: Supreme Court Recognizes Marriage Equality

Today, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision [PDF],holding that “same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry” and guaranteeing that the right to marry the person you love no longer depends on where you live. In doing so, the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitutions protections “extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs.” Read more »

Supreme Court Lets Doctors Practice Medicine, Not Politics

Yesterday was a good day for women’s health and the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship. The Supreme Court refused to review the Fourth Circuit’s decision striking down a coercive North Carolina law that inserted politicians’ views where they don’t belong.

The law, passed in 2011, would have subjected every woman in North Carolina to an unnecessary and invasive procedure before she could get an abortion. And it forced doctors to prioritize the messages of anti-abortion politicians over good medicine. Every court that has considered this law, including a federal district court and the Fourth Circuit, found it unconstitutional. Read more »

Why the Griswold Case Matters to 99% of Women (and Everyone Else Too)

Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court decided the case of Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized access to and use of birth control. Whether you’re part of the 99% of women who use birth control at some point in their lives or not, Griswold has had an impact your life. Griswold was the foundation for many of the rights that shape our lives today, like the right to determine if and when to have children, the right to determine how to raise your children, and the right to have intimate relationships with whomever you love. Read more »

I'm All About Griswold

Growing up, I was not fond of my middle name. Griswold isn’t exactly every eight-year-old’s dream middle name. I tried to avoid anything with monogrammed initials for fear that someone would ask me what the G stood for. Grace served as a convenient substitute. Then I heard about Griswold v. Read more »

Finding Griswold's Missing Women

Fifty years ago this week, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution did not permit a state to prohibit the use of contraceptives within marriage or the provision of contraceptives to married people. Finding a “zone of privacy created by several fundamental constitutional guarantees,” the majority concluded that the contraception bans unconstitutionally intruded on marriage, which the Court described as “a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred.” Seven years later, in Eisenstadt v. Baird, the Court extended the constitutional right to use birth control to unmarried couples.

By guaranteeing legal access to birth control, the Griswold decision opened the door for dramatic changes for women and for our society. As the Supreme Court has since observed, “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”  In fact, research has shown that availability of reliable birth control has been a key driver of the increases in U.S. women’s education, labor force participation, average earnings, and the narrowing in the wage gap between women and men achieved over recent decades. Read more »

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Civil Rights

Today the Supreme Court issued a major victory for civil rights in its 8-1 EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores [PDF] decision.  More surprising than the favorable decision or the fact that it was nearly unanimous, is the author of the majority opinion: Justice Scalia. According to Justice Scalia and the majority of the Court, Abercrombie may have violated a job applicant’s civil rights when it rejected her application because she wore a hijab, even though her religious beliefs never came up in the interview.

The case focused on Samantha Elauf, a practicing Muslim who had applied for a sales position with Abercrombie Kids. Following an interview with the store manager, who rated her as qualified for hire, the store manager was concerned that Samantha’s head scarf might violate the store’s Look Policy, which prohibited employees from wearing “caps.” The district manager told the store manager that all headwear, religious or not, violates the store’s Look Policy, and directed the store manager to therefore not hire Samantha. Samantha filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the EEOC sued Abercrombie on Samantha’s behalf for violating her religious rights under Title VII. Read more »

Walking a Fine Line: The Supreme Court (Mostly) Maintains Respect for EEOC Authority in Mach Mining v. EEOC Decision

Last week, the Supreme Court unanimously decided in Mach Mining v. EEOC that while courts can review the EEOC’s conciliation process, the scope of that review is extremely limited, in order to give the legislated deference to the agency and protect confidentiality in negotiations.

What does that mean, why is it important, and what are its implications?

What it means.

This case began when a woman filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging that Mach Mining violated Title VII by refusing to hire her as a miner based on her sex, evidenced in part because Mach Mining had never actually hired a female miner before (and did not even have a women’s bathroom on its mining premises). As required under Title VII, the EEOC first attempted to conciliate the dispute—meaning that it first attempted an informal resolution with the employer before filing a lawsuit—but, reaching no resolution, it sued the company in court. Read more »