Celebrate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson-Call Your Senators, Urge Swift Confirmation

Women Lawyers On Guard Action Network:

Today is a cause for celebration. President Biden has nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as his pick for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. As you are no doubt aware, Judge Jackson would be the first Black woman on the Court. Among 115 justices, only 3 have been people of color and only 5 have been women.

Judge Brown is not just a distinguished jurist, she also comes to this position with a wealth of litigation experience, most significantly as a Federal Public Defender, but also in private practice, and as a clerk to Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard University.

She will be a voice for equal justice under the law – for women- and for all people.

Here are some joyous statements on her nomination: From the NAACP; from the National Women’s Law Center; and a video from People For the American Way.


Cory Amron, President

Photo: Claire Anderson, Unsplash

Forced Arbitration – Sexual Harassment and Assault

Finally, some good news in the fight against sexual harassment and assault.

The Senate (and previously, the House) have passed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act with bipartisan votes.  The bill was introduced in the Senate 5 years ago by Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand and Sen. Lindsey Graham and will move on to President Biden who has indicated that he will sign it.

No longer will victims be forced to bring their grievances to arbitration, freeing them to go to court if they choose. We also owe a tremendous debt to Gretchen Carlson for this legislation.

We note, however, that forced Non-Disclosure Agreements are not addressed in this legislation.

We also note that Women Lawyers On Guard’s nationwide survey of sexual harassment in the legal profession, Still Broken, determined that 86% of sexual harassment incidents are not even reported.

Read more in these articles:  NPR or Washington Post.

The Pernicious SCOTUS Qualification Questioning

No sooner had President Biden reiterated his pledge to choose a Black woman to the Supreme Court to fill the seat soon to be vacated by Justice Stephen Breyer, then the disinformation machine began churning out cries that the nominee–who has yet to be named–is not qualified to sit on the Court. All of a sudden, being Black and a woman is a “litmus” test that the President is using to elevate someone to the Court who (therefore this message indicates) cannot be the most qualified candidate. The barely veiled racism/sexism underlying this statement is that the “most qualified” candidate necessarily is a white male.

What nonsense. One needs only to review the qualifications of those who might be proposed to see through this pernicious effort.

Let’s be clear: Our Supreme Court needs to look like America and serve ALL in America – with justices who understand how their rulings impact all of our lives and who will defend our civil rights under the law. Of the 115 Supreme Court justices, 108 have been white men, 5 have been women, 1 is a Latina woman, and 2 have been Black men. None has been a Black woman.

Take a look at these op-eds of Fatima Goss Graves, President of National Women’s Law Center [Link HERE] and Michael Gerson, commentator in the Washington Post [Link HERE]. Then, lift up your voice with theirs and, in a chorus, let’s expose this “qualification” disinformation for the utter nonsense that it is.

Women Lawyers’ Lives, Careers Will Suffer Without Abortion Right, Brief Warns Justices

Women Lawyers’ Lives, Careers Will Suffer Without Abortion Right, Brief Warns Justices

Pro-abortion rights protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on May 21, 2019. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

Reposted from The National Law Journal (Read the full article)
By Marcia Coyle

Losing the right to determine when to have children would devastate women’s ability to advance their legal careers and achieve gender parity, more than 30 organizations of women lawyers and law students told the U.S. Supreme Court in an amicus brief in the new term’s latest abortion fight.

The organizations, in the brief by Mia Guizzetti Hayes, counsel at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, emphasize “reliance” on the abortion right as the key factor in the justices’ analysis of whether to accept Mississippi’s request that they overturn their landmark abortion rights rulings in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey.

“Mississippi’s claim that women have been able to reach society’s highest echelon without reliance on the right to decide to end a pregnancy is simply wrong,” the brief states. “While Congress has passed some laws that provide some support for parents, many women throughout the legal profession continue to experience significant setbacks to career advancement if they cannot decide the timing and size of their families. Amici members have personally relied on the guarantee of bodily autonomy to advance their own careers and women’s position in the legal field as a whole.”

The amicus brief by Hayes, associate Ciara Copell and a team of Willkie Farr lawyers is one of more than 50 filed in recent days on behalf of the Mississippi abortion clinic in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Thomas Dobbs is head of the state’s Department of Health.

Mississippi initially asked the justices in its petition for review to decide whether all pre-viability prohibitions on abortions are unconstitutional. The state said the case could be decided without overturning Roe or Casey. But when it filed its brief on the merits after the court granted review, the state explicitly urged the court to overrule Roe and Casey as “egregiously wrong.”

The lead organizations on the Willkie Farr amicus brief are Women Lawyers on Guard, the National Association of Women Lawyers and the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia. Other organizations include Oregon Women Lawyers, the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance, North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys, Rhode Island Women’s Bar Association, Hawaii Women Lawyers and Women’s Law Student Association at the University of Wisconsin School of Law.

The brief highlights statistics about ongoing discrimination against women lawyers in the legal profession, particularly mothers and women of color. For example, women represent less than one-fourth of law firm equity partners, despite representing 40% of associates; 54% of women in the law are fully in charge of arranging child care as compared with just 1% of men, and 32% of women in the law are responsible for leaving work early for child care as compared to just 4% of men, and women are also likely to be passed over for certain projects after returning from maternity leave because of assumptions about their need to participate in child care.

Gender parity, the brief states, is not expected to occur until 2181, according to one study.

“Considering the limited resources and opportunities available to women lawyers with children, particularly against the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic, losing the ability to decide whether and when to have their children, and how many children to have, would undoubtedly be detrimental to women lawyers’ careers,” the brief states.

Willkie Farr’s Copell, whom Hayes called “instrumental in putting together the brief, said, “As soon as the Supreme Court took up this case, we were very eager to get involved.” The firm also filed an amicus brief in the 2020 abortion case, June Medical Services v. Russo.

Women Lawyers On Guard, Copell said, was “ready to go” as soon as the court took the Mississippi case. It and the other two named organizations became the core group behind the amicus brief. “They utilized their network across the country with other women lawyer groups to get a critical mass,” Copell said. “Willkie used our network to reach other other women’s lawyer organizations. It was a conscious decision to include law students as well as they are going through the same things women lawyers have been and are still going through.”

The amicus brief is reminiscent of a powerful amicus brief filed by women lawyers in the 2016 case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In that brief, filed by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, 113 women lawyers signed their names and detailed their own abortion stories and the abortion rights’ impact on their careers and families.

A Paul Weiss team of lawyers has been assisting the Center for Reproductive Rights in the Mississippi abortion case since the litigation began.

Reliance on the abortion right has only grown with the passage of time, the new amicus brief tells the court.

“Under the principle of stare decisis, the court in Casey upheld the central holding in Roe in part because it recognized that ‘an entire generation has come of age’ relying on ‘Roe’s concept of liberty in defining the capacity of women to act in society, and to make reproductive decisions.’” the brief states. “Now, close to thirty years after Casey, this statement applies to every woman of childbearing age in the United States.”

Copell said the justices have expressed that reliance is one of the most important factors. “Here it’s a little bit of a slam dunk in the fact that women have relied on this right for the last 40 years,” she said. “It was a particular honor to write this one from the perspective of women lawyers who have both professional and personal knowledge on this subject matter.”

Hayes added, “We’ve planned lives, careers, education and families in reliance on this right.”

Letter from Cory Amron re: Joint Amicus Brief Submitted to U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health

Letter from Cory Amron re: Joint Amicus Brief Submitted to U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

Dear Women Lawyers on Guard Inc.,

There is no doubt that the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban is unconstitutional (as, of course is the Texas 6-week ban- but that’s another case.) However, because the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it is pretty clear that they are planning to severely restrict women’s reproductive rights guaranteed for almost 50 years by Roe v Wade, Casey and their progeny, if not overturn these cases. Why do we say this? Because the conservative Fifth Circuit appeals court found that the Mississippi ban was clearly unconstitutional. So if the Supreme Court were to follow precedent, they would have no need to take this case.

Women Lawyers On Guard Inc. has just filed an amicus brief before the Supreme Court in the Dobbs case. It argues strongly that the Mississippi ban should be struck down under precedent of Roe, Casey, etc. and that stare decisis and reliance dictate this result. WLG’s co-leads on the brief are the National Association of Women Lawyers and the Women’s Bar Association of DC. Willkie Farr served as our pro bono counsel. 28 additional women’s bars, women’s law student groups, or women’s legal organizations have signed onto the brief in which we argue that women and particularly women lawyers have relied on these reproductive rights to plan their families, get their education, pursue their jobs and careers.

Amicus for the State of Mississippi has said that women have made these strides without the need for reproductive rights. That’s balderdash.

Here’s a link to our brief.

We have spent hundreds of volunteer hours on this amicus effort. We would appreciate any donation you can make to help us continue our operations. WLG is a 501(c)(3) organization -donations are tax deductible.


Thank you for your contribution to our efforts. To donate click here.


My best,