Tag Archives: Women’s Rights

#MeToo Movement revisits Clarence Thomas: a case for impeachment

The #MeToo movement has begun to hold powerful men who have abused women accountable for their actions. Many of these men have engaged in such behavior for decades, as the Harvey Weinstein case illustrates.

This has led Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of The New York Times and the co-author of Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas, a 1994 book about his controversial confirmation hearing, to revisit the issue in the current cover story of New York Magazine. Do You Believe Her Now?: With new evidence that Clarence Thomas lied to get onto the Supreme Court, it’s time to talk seriously about impeachment:

On the same fall night in 2016 that the infamous Access Hollywood tape featuring Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault was made public by the Washington Post and dominated the news, an Alaska attorney, Moira Smith, wrote on Facebook about her own experiences as a victim of sexual misconduct in 1999.

“At the age of 24, I found out I’d be attending a dinner at my boss’s house with Justice Clarence Thomas,” she began her post, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court justice who was famously accused of sexually harassing Anita Hill, a woman who had worked for him at two federal agencies, including the EEOC, the federal sexual-harassment watchdog.

“I was so incredibly excited to meet him, rough confirmation hearings notwithstanding,” Smith continued. “He was charming in many ways — giant, booming laugh, charismatic, approachable. But to my complete shock, he groped me while I was setting the table, suggesting I should ‘sit right next to him.’ When I feebly explained I’d been assigned to the other table, he groped again … ‘Are you sure?’ I said I was and proceeded to keep my distance.” Smith had been silent for 17 years but, infuriated by the “Grab ’em by the pussy” utterings of a presidential candidate, could keep quiet no more.

Tipped to the post by a Maryland legal source who knew Smith, Marcia Coyle, a highly regarded and scrupulously nonideological Supreme Court reporter for The National Law Journal, wrote a detailed story about Smith’s allegation of butt-squeezing, which included corroboration from Smith’s roommates at the time of the dinner and from her former husband. Coyle’s story, which Thomas denied, was published October 27, 2016. If you missed it, that’s because this news was immediately buried by a much bigger story — the James Comey letter reopening the Hillary Clinton email probe.

Smith, who has since resumed her life as a lawyer and isn’t doing any further interviews about Thomas, was on the early edge of #MeToo. Too early, perhaps: In the crescendo of recent sexual-harassment revelations, Thomas’s name has been surprisingly muted.

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2nd Annual Women’s March this weekend (updated)

The 2018 Women’s March in Washington will move forward as planned on Saturday despite a pending government shutdown. Women’s March Will Go On, Shutdown or Not:

An estimated 5,500 marchers will gather at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool at 11 a.m. for a series of speeches before winding their way east down Constitution Avenue and north to the White House gates to advocate for women’s inclusion in the political process.

The Reflecting Pool, which runs down the western end of the National Mall, is maintained by the National Park Service.

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A shutdown would furlough roughly 87 percent of the nearly 25,000 National Park Service employees until Congress can pass a spending measure to put them back to work.

All over the country, parks and monuments under NPS jurisdiction would be closed to visitors until Congress reaches a spending deal.

But the bureau has issued a “special provision … for first amendment activities in the National Mall and Memorial Parks” to carry on during a shutdown, according to a “contingency plan” outlined last September.

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This week in the GOP’s war on the civil rights of women and LGBTQ

The House on Tuesday approved a bill banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, advancing a key GOP priority for the third time in the past four years — this time, with a supportive Republican president in the White House. The purpose of the bill is to create a direct legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, which provides for access to abortion in the first 24 weeks.  With Trump’s backing, House approves ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy:

The bill, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is not expected to emerge from the Senate, where most Democrats and a handful of moderate Republicans can block its consideration. But antiabortion activists are calling President Trump’s endorsement of the bill a significant advance for their movement.

The White House said in a statement released Monday that the administration “strongly supports” the legislation “and applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections.”

The bill provides for abortions after 20 weeks gestation only when they are necessary to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest. Under the bill, abortions performed during that period could be carried out “only in the manner which, in reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive” — note, not the life of the mother — and would require a second physician trained in neonatal resuscitation to be present.

How Arizona’s congressional delegation voted:

Stricter Abortion Ban: The House on Oct. 3 voted, 237-189, to outlaw abortions after 20 weeks of fertilization on the belief that the fetus can feel pain by then. This repudiates Roe v. Wade’s ruling that abortion is legal up to viability that occurs at about 24 weeks or later. A yes vote was to pass HR 36

Voting yes: Martha McSally, R-2, Paul Gosar, R-4, Andy Biggs, R-5, David Schweikert, R-6, Trent Franks, R-8

Voting no: Tom O’Halleran, D-1, Raul Grijalva, D-3, Ruben Gallego, D-7, Kyrsten Sinema, D-9

Women’s Health Exemption: The House on Oct. 3 defeated, 181-246, a bid by Democrats to add an overall woman’s health exemption to HR 36 to go with exemptions already in the bill in cases of incest or rape or to save the mother’s life. A yes vote was to permit abortions after 20 weeks if necessary to protect the mother’s health.

Voting Yes: O’Halleran, Grijalva, Gallego, Sinema

Voting No: McSally, Gosar, Biggs, Schweikert, Franks

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Arizona House recesses rather than debate the Equal Rights Amendment

I posed the question the other day, Illinois Senate takes up the ERA today, whither Arizona?

Now we know the answer.

In the same way that our authoritarian Tea-Publican legislature has sought to shut down the voice of Arizona citizens by rendering their constitutional right to citizens initiatives an impossibility through a byzantine set of new rules, the same authoritarian Tea-Publican legislators shut down the voice of Democratic minority legislators who represent over 40 percent of the voters in Arizona.

Rep. Pamela Powers-Hannley (D-Tucson) complained during legislative floor action on Thursday that her bill to put Arizona on record in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment never even got a committee hearing. So she made a motion that the measure be brought to the full House for an immediate vote. GOP lawmakers stymie bid to vote on Equal Rights Amendment (Arizona Capitol Times):

The maneuver, which is legal under House rules, caught GOP leaders by surprise.

But rather than simply allowing a vote on her motion, Speaker J.D. Mesnard made a procedural motion to instead have the House recess. That was approved along party lines, denying Democrats the vote they sought — and effectively keeping Republicans from having to go on the record on whether they support or oppose the amendment.

* * *

A parade of Democrat lawmakers urged colleagues in the Republican-controlled House to quash the motion to recess and allow a vote.

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Illinois Senate takes up the ERA today, whither Arizona?

Back in March, the state of Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment … 35 Years After The Deadline:

[T]he state Senate approved the long-dormant ERA, which among other things guarantees that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The senators passed a measure sent to them by the state Assembly, which had already approved it earlier this week.

It has been a long, twisty path for the ERA, which was first passed by Congress in 1972 and last approved by a state (Indiana) in 1977. The amendment teetered just three states short of the threshold necessary to see it adopted into law nationwide — a threshold it failed to achieve by the time Congress’ deadline came and went.

But for ERA supporters such as Democratic state Sen. Pat Spearman, that deadline is little more than a paper tiger.

It was in the resolving clause, but it wasn’t a part of the amendment that was proposed by Congress,” she tells KNPR. “That’s why the time limit is irrelevant.”

After all, Spearman and others argue, Congress’ original ratification deadline was 1979, and national lawmakers already bumped that forward to 1982 — so what’s stopping them from bumping it forward again?

“The Equal Rights Amendment is about equality, period,” says Spearman, the Nevada bill’s chief sponsor.

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This afternoon, SJRCA4, the Equal Rights Amendment, is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Executive Committee of the Illinois General Assembly. In 2014, the Illinois Senate voted 39-11 – by more than the necessary three-fifths margin of elected senators, as required by state law – to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, but it was not put to a vote in the House, where there was not sufficient support.

UPDATE: SJRCA4 was approved by the Senate Executive Committee on a a 12-3 vote (2 voting present).

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‘A Day Without a Woman’ general strike

Today is International Women’s Day, which has been observed for decades as a celebration of women’s achievements across the globe and a call for gender equality.

Some of the same folks who brought you the Women’s March on Washington in January are planning a general strike for this Wednesday called “A Day Without a Woman.”

In an op-ed at the New York Times Phoebe Lett writes, Why Women Are On Strike:

On Wednesday, protesters around the world will celebrate International Women’s Day by showing their economies what a day without women’s work, paid or unpaid, is like.

Inspired by two strikes last October — one successfully quashing a Polish parliament bill banning abortion, the other drawing tens of thousands to protest violence against women and girls in Argentina — organizers in more than 50 countries have coordinated a day of global action, including strikes, rallies and other gatherings.

The United States strike will focus on “broadening the definition of violence against women,” says Sarah Leonard, spokesperson for the strike. In addition to protesting domestic, sexual and physical violence against women, Tithi Bhattacharya, a member of the strike’s organizing committee, says the strike on Wednesday focuses on rejecting the “systemic violence of an economic system that is rapidly leaving women behind.”

“This is the day to emphasize the unity between work done in the so-called formal economy and the domestic sphere, the public sphere and the private sphere, and how most working women have to straddle both,” says Ms. Bhattacharya. “Labor is understood to be work only at the point of production, but as women we know that both society and policy makers invisibilize the work that women do.” The strike calls for women to withhold labor, paid or unpaid, from the United States economy to show how important their contributions are.

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