Friday, June 01, 2007

Judging Pay Inequity

This week's Supreme Court decision in the Ledbetter v. Goodyear case disables an important tool for addressing pay disparity between men and women. How can feminist philosophers address this decision?

Sadly, the decision
endorses a burdensome barrier to filing discrimination claims but is not suited to a philosophical response. The majority decision is deceitful in that it does not openly question the legality or morality of workplace discrimination. It gives support to discriminatory practices without justifying the change on principle.

It is, however, suited to a political response, and the Congress should work to overturn the ruling.

A New York Times article analyzes the fact that Justice Ginsburg gave her strongly worded dissent orally:
The oral dissent has not been, until now, Justice Ginsburg’s style. She has gone years without delivering one, and never before in her 15 years on the court has she delivered two in one term. In her past dissents, both oral and written, she has been reluctant to breach the court’s collegial norms. “What she is saying is that this is not law, it’s politics,” Pamela S. Karlan, a Stanford law professor, said of Justice Ginsburg’s comment linking the outcome in the abortion case to the fact of the court’s changed membership. “She is accusing the other side of making political claims, not legal claims.”

Feminist Law Professors
offer a brief analysis and many links.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissent is here.

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