Hearings on Roberts Begin; Groups Opposing Roberts Hold Demonstrations
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on John Roberts for the Supreme Court begin today. Women’s and civil rights groups held a dawn vigil and a lunchtime demonstration today to urge Senators to vote “no” on Roberts.
“As Chief Justice, John Roberts would be in the nation’s top judicial leadership position and could lead the rollback of the gains made by women and people of color over the past 40 years,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. His record indicates he would greatly weaken anti-discrimination statutes in employment and education; ignore wage discrimination; gut Title IX; water down voting rights; cut back affirmative action; eliminate the right to privacy (which he has mocked); and reverse Roe v. Wade.
Heightening the already grave concerns of women’s rights organizations is Roberts’ position on sex discrimination and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Based on documents released from Roberts’ time in the Reagan Administration, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) concluded that Roberts “objected to, and was willing simply to ignore,” the settled principle that laws or government policies that discriminate “on the basis of sex [are] subject to ‘heightened scrutiny’ – and will be struck down unless the government can show it has an ‘exceedingly persuasive justification’ for the discrimination.” In several memos, Roberts argued that only racial discrimination is covered in the 14th Amendment’s required heightened scrutiny, not sex discrimination. This same view was expressed by Robert Bork during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, and it was one of the main reasons he was rejected, along with his views on the right to privacy. This view is very dangerous for women’s opportunities and protection from discrimination – as the NWLC explains, “[i]n the absence of an Equal Rights Amendment, it is this very constitutional guarantee that has prevented states and the federal government from limiting women’s careers, their service on juries, the family benefits to which they are entitled while serving in the military, educational opportunities, social security benefits for their families, and equal treatment for women in a myriad of other ways.”
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .