Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Baby Ruth

Armen’s previous post turned out to be a bit premature, as yesterday’s Supreme Court announcements were more of a whimper than a bang. The only case decided was Ledbetter v. Goodyear, in which the Court held that “employees claiming they received disparate treatment based on gender or race must do so within 180 days of the original discriminatory action -- not within 180 days of their last paycheck” (HT Law.com).

The case is noteworthy, however, not just for its ideological fault lines (an expected and ominous 5-4 split), but also because Justice Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench. I thought this was noteworthy because I couldn’t remember her doing this in the past, yet it was the second time this term (she also read her opinion in Carhart).

The New York Times picked up on this as well, here. It quotes former Ginsburg clerk, and current Boalt superstar, Prof. Liu. The Times mentions a few possible reasons for Ginsburg’s sudden verbosity—theatrics, sour grapes, strategic judgment. But I think, and the article indicates as well, that Ruthie is just simply pissed off. She can see the writing on the wall with the new Court, and she isn’t willing to be a silent minority. Prof. Liu also suggests that she sees her own personal and professional struggles in these cases, and that “after 15 years on the court, she’s finally voicing some complaints of her own.”

I personally am happy to hear her speak out—there are too few strong liberal voices in the federal judiciary. Perhaps she can be the much needed steward of practical liberal values during the inevitable regressive slog of the next few years.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

grades for rakowski's estates and trusts are up

5/31/2007 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is actually a pretty big case. It sounds like a minor technicality about statutes of limitations, but it effectively limits the scope of recovery under Title VI. The woman in this case was paid WAY less than every single man in the same job for years--only she didn't find out until years later. The court majority said because she didn't know about the initial decision to seriously underpay her on the basis of gender, she can't recover for that discrimination when she eventually finds out about it. No matter that retirement savings, pensions, and social security are all based on earnings during your career--and therefore not only was she paid less, but her benefits--public and private--are all accordingly less, due to discrimination. RBG spoke up because this is a huge and unfair limitation on Title VI recovery.

6/02/2007 6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ack Title VII

6/02/2007 6:47 PM  
Blogger Max Power said...

Thanks for the note 6:47. I agree that it's an important case, but I'm not so into employment law so it was RBG speaking up that caught my interest more than the case itself. You're definitely right she spoke up b/c this was a huge and unfair limitation on Title VII, but I just think her speaking up is symbolic of something even bigger, in terms of her role on the new Court.

6/03/2007 10:53 PM  

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