WLG files important abortion-rights amicus brief

WLG has filed its own amicus curiae brief in the Sixth Circuit case of Bristol Regional Women’s Center, P.C., v Slatery in support of the appellees, the clinics that successfully challenged Tennessee’s 48-hour statutory waiting period for abortions. [Brief HERE].  Bristol Regional, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, sued the State of Tennessee, arguing that the waiting period was unconstitutional.  At the conclusion of a four-day bench trial, the District Court held that the statute imposed significant burdens on those seeking abortions in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Tennessee appealed and asked the Court of Appeals to overturn that decision and hold that waiting periods on their face are constitutional, and to ignore or reject the facts found by the District Court in its comprehensive and detailed 136-page opinion.

The Milbank law firm drafted this brief and our Amicus Committee Co-Chairs honed the argument: that the Court of Appeals must give the District Court’s factual findings deference and apply the “clear error” standard.  “There is no ‘abortion exception’ to the clear error standard…” argues our brief.  And, in fact, the Sixth  Circuit itself has “pledged to uphold a district court’s findings of fact unless those findings “strike us as wrong with the force of a five-week-old, unrefrigerated dead fish.’”  There was no error here by the District Court, let alone clear error.

One would think that this argument – that the Court of Appeals must apply the clear error standard to the trial court’s factual findings — would be obvious and unnecessary.  But circuit courts all too often play fast and loose with the normal appellate rules when it comes to abortion cases.  In fact, just after we filed the brief, the entire Sixth Circuit ignored its own rules and precedent when it decided to hear the case en banc as an initial matter, bypassing entirely the three-judge panel that seemed likely to follow the law and keep the district court’s injunction in place.  Our brief, reminding the Court of Appeals of its role and duty to apply the clear error standard, is now an even more pointed reminder that the rule of law should be respected.  CRR was very appreciative of our amicus brief.

Practical Tips: Breaking Through the COVID Wall

Did you miss International Women’s Day?  No matter — we don’t need just one day; we need every day.  And we have a program to help, on April 8th.

The headlines scream about the devastating effect of the pandemic on women and people of color in our country:  Female unemployment hit double digits — a first since 1948. Unemployment among Blacks and Latinas is significantly higher than among White women and men. The pandemic has increased the burdens of child care, elder care, and family care on women. Involuntary home schooling has fallen mostly to women, adding to their already overloaded days. Many women are falling out of the workplace as a result- and not because they want to or can afford to.  This gender regression after years of at least some progress is alarming.

Women Lawyers On Guard can’t solve all these problems, but we are presenting a program of practical tips and advice for women, their partners, and families that can help. Come (virtually) and bring your significant other to Breaking Down the COVID Wall: Women, Families and Surviving the Pandemic, Thursday, April 8, 5 PM East Coast Time, 2 PM Pacific Time.  Our expert panelists (below and at the RSVP link) will offer strategies and tips for: coping, mental health for adults and children; relationships in a pandemic; navigating the new school environment, and resurrecting or saving your devastated or damaged career.

Please RSVP HERE and you will receive a link to this complimentary program.

Cheree Price is a school psychologist with the Montgomery County Public Schools and was recently named School Psychologist of the year by the Montgomery County School Psychologists’ Association.
Jennifer Reynolds is a psychotherapist specializing in the development of skills for teens and adults to cope with stress caused by loss, relationships, work, school and life changes.
Phillip Reynolds is a mental and behavioral health professional who works to identify and maximize strengths while cultivating relationships, performance, and community.
Lisa Horowitz is an attorney and career coach who works with attorneys at all stages of their careers to create an actionable strategy to navigate career transition and advancement.

Finally, some good news

Finally. Some good news for women in this country after four rotten years. The Biden-Harris administration will soon constitute a Gender Policy Council, with one full-time Co-Chair and additional staff, and with the elevated status of a White House initiative. It will collaborate with every agency, and every cabinet member will participate, working on a “government-wide approach to gender equity and equality.”  See today’s New York Times article, HERE.

Also, we are pleased to announce the second in WLG’s Work/Life Imbalance program series:  “Hitting the COVID Wall:  Women, Families and Surviving a Pandemic”.  We have a diverse panel bringing diverse perspectives, practical advice and tips:

Philip Reynolds and Jennifer Reynolds: therapists talking about mental health and coping issues for adults;
Cheree Price, school psychologist, discussing children’s educational challenges and their mental health;
Lisa Horowitz, career coach, bringing us advice about overcoming the devastating consequences to women’s careers from the pandemic; and
Congresswomen Abigail Spanberger has been invited to discuss legislative solutions to issues that are disproportionately affecting women, particularly women in the workplace.

Stay tuned for a date and a final panel.

In the meantime, we soldier on.

WLG mourns RBG

Although she stood only 5’1″, we lost a giant. Strategic and skilled in advocacy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a stalwart advocate for gender equality and women’s rights, for instance in her work founding the Women’s Right Project at the ACLU and as only the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court (in 1993). She had an outsized impact on the law, on society and on women’s lives.

Through our tears for her passing, we rejoice in the knowledge that a new generation has taken up her banner, and that she reveled in the moniker they gave her, “The Notorious RBG”.

She famously once said “When will there be enough women on the court. My answer is: ‘When there are nine’ People are shocked. But there’s been nine men and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.” Not likely that we will see nine women on the Supreme Court soon, but we can still work toward it as she would have. And we should never take for granted the rights that she won for us.

Notorious RBG, rest in peace.

Women Partners Make 53% Less Than Men

Women Lawyers on Guard Action Network,

Did you know that women law firm partners in the Am Law 200 make 53% less than male partners?  Major Lindsey & Africa (MLA) surveys Am Law partners every other year (63,000+ partners were surveyed in 2018). In 2018 they began to look at the differences between male and female compensation in their study and found this significant gender gap.

MLA’s 2020 survey has been sent out.  If you are an equity or non-equity partner in an Am Law 200 law firm you should have received a link to the survey. It is extremely important that you compete this survey so that the facts on the gender pay gap can be revealed -hopefully leading to more transparency and action.

WLGAN is working on the issue of gender pay equity. For example, in an effort led by the National Women’s Law Center, we successfully lobbied the State of Maryland to pass a bill prohibiting employers from asking prospective employees about their prior salary.  (Asking prior salary perpetuates the gender pay gap when employers hire men and women of equivalent status and experience but whose prior compensation were not equivalent, and pay them the same or incrementally more than their respective previous salaries.)  Much more work needs to be done on this issue.

Thank you for you attention to this important survey by MLA.