Senate Hearings Set for Title IX Critic Nominated to DC Circuit Court
In an unorthodox move, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) scheduled a hearing next week for the confirmation of Thomas Griffith during Congress’ lame-duck session. Griffith, an outspoken critic of Title IX, was nominated by President Bush last May to the DC Circuit Court of appeals, considered the second most powerful court in the country. The Washington Post reports that Senator Hatch, a proponent of Griffith’s, was eager to set the confirmation hearing before his committee chairmanship ends. Since Griffith’s nomination, controversy has arisen upon the discovery that he has been practicing law without a license in both the District and in Utah. This revelation is thought to have contributed to his receipt of the lowest possible passing grade by the American Bar Association in September.
Currently the senior legal counsel for Brigham Young University, Griffith was a member of the President's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics that recommended weakening enforcement of Title IX, the landmark 1972 law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. While on the Commission, Griffith proposed removing the proportionality test as one of the three criteria schools are required to meet to comply with Title IX athletics requirements. Griffith's proposal to remove this provision, critical to the effectiveness of Title IX in athletics, failed by a vote of 11-4. When asked by another commission member how his position stands up to the eight federal courts that have upheld the use of the proportionality test, Griffith replied, "They said it was a reasonable interpretation, not required. I believe they're wrong."
"Title IX has been instrumental in providing equal opportunities for women and girls in education, including sports. Such a detractor of equal opportunity in education must not be given this position of power to gut Title IX," warns FMF Education Equity Director Sue Klein. According to the American Association of University Women, there is reason for concern that, given his stance on Title IX, Griffith could also look unfavorably on cases involving policies that have a negative effect on women and minorities, employment discrimination, and affirmative action.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .