• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Propertius on Imagining a Fifteen-Minute Cha…
    jmac on Imagining a Fifteen-Minute Cha…
    Beata on Imagining a Fifteen-Minute Cha…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Imagining a Fifteen-Minute Cha…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on The Year of the Scapegoat: Fre…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on The Year of the Scapegoat: Fre…
    William on Imagining a Fifteen-Minute Cha…
    Propertius on Imagining a Fifteen-Minute Cha…
    William on Imagining a Fifteen-Minute Cha…
    Beata on Imagining a Fifteen-Minute Cha…
    jmac on Imagining a Fifteen-Minute Cha…
    Beata on Imagining a Fifteen-Minute Cha…
    Beata on The Year of the Scapegoat: Fre…
    Propertius on The Year of the Scapegoat: Fre…
    Propertius on The Year of the Scapegoat: Fre…
  • Categories

  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    April 2012
    S M T W T F S
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • Open Thread
      Use to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.
  • Top Posts

Wednesday: Family and Medical Leave Act already compromised

I don’t know how I missed this.  It didn’t seem to get the attention that Slutgate got.  On March 21, 2012, the US Supreme Court voided part of the Family and Medical Leave Act, one of the jewels of the Clinton Administration from 1993.  In a 5-4 decision, the Court has decided that states can not be sued for violations of the leave act.  It’s an ugly ruling. From the NYTimes article on the decision:

In a 2003 decision, the court allowed suits against state employers under a part of the law that concerned leaves taken to care for family members. The case decided Tuesday concerned a part of the law that entitled eligible employees to take leaves to tend to their own serious medical conditions.

Like other parts of the law, what the court called the “self-care provision” was drafted in gender-neutral terms. The question that divided the justices was whether the law nonetheless meant to address sex discrimination.

The case was brought by a man, Daniel Coleman, who had worked for the Maryland Court of Appeals. Mr. Coleman said the state had violated law by denying him sick leave.

Maryland argued that the federal law did not apply to it because states, as sovereigns, are generally immune from lawsuits for money. In the 2003 decision, Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs, the Supreme Court rejected a similar objection from Nevada to a suit under a family leave provision.


Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, said the entire Family and Medical Leave Act, or F.M.L.A. “is directed at sex discrimination.”

“Indeed,” she wrote, “the F.M.L.A. was originally envisioned as a way to guarantee — without singling out women or pregnancy — that pregnant women would not lose their jobs when they gave birth. The self-care provision achieves that aim.”

The whole law, she said, was “an appropriate response to pervasive discriminatory treatment of pregnant women.” It avoided singling out pregnancy leaves, she added, to avoid discouraging employers from hiring women.

“It would make scant sense to provide job-protected leave for a woman to care for a newborn,” Justice Ginsburg added, “but not for her recovery from delivery, a miscarriage, or the birth of a stillborn baby.”

Justice Ginsburg wrote that Tuesday’s decision was narrow or, as she put it from the bench, “at least the damage is contained.” Suits for money under the self-care provision are still allowed against private employers, she wrote, and other kinds of actions remain available against state employers.

Sooooo, you can take leave, unpaid, to care for your newborn but not to take care of yourself?  Plus, if you work for the state and you get fired for taking care of yourself (let’s say you had a complicated delivery or a stillbirth) you can’t sue the state for damages.  Theoretically, they could just fire you for not leaving the wee tot in the care of some baby nurse and getting back to work immediately, right?  You still have the right to take unpaid maternity leave but not to recover from it, have I got that right?

It should be clear by now that the worst offender on the Supreme Court is not Antonin Scalia.  It’s Anthony Kennedy.  I think Jeffrey Toobin was pretty accurate when he described Kennedy in The Nine.  He said that it took Sandra Day O’Connor to knock some sense into him.  He isn’t really a swing vote.  O’Connor, being a conservative herself, was able to talk him out of what could have been a disaster on a previous abortion bill.  But without a conservative woman on the court, Kennedy has no reason to listen to a single thing the other female justices say.  He’s into pompousness.  He loves flattery and he’s a narcissist who revels in the very idea that his one vote could mean joy or misery for millions of Americans.  He’s the Supreme Court version of He-Man standing on his desk shouting, “I have the power!”.  He’s the Joe Lieberman of justices.  Not the brightest crayon in the box but probably a bit more qualified than Thomas.  The more liberal justices will never have a chance as long as Kennedy is around.  You’ll always know where the four uber conservatives stand but as long as there’s a fleeting hope that you will be able to appeal to Kennedy’s 1950’s view of the world, that’s who all of the arguments before the court need to be pitched and we have seen time and time again that he just doesn’t think women are fully human or something.

So, here’s where we are in 2012:

1.) We have one party that is full of screaming maniacs who are definitely appealing to the white male vote and doing all they can to get women out of the workplace during tough economic times.

2.) We have another party that is also appealing to the white male vote.  Ohhoo!  You thought they were going after female voters?  No, no, no, nooooo.  See, once women got scared by Republicans acting like the Taliban, the Democrats assumed that women would come flocking to them.  So, now that they have females in their “done” pile (or so they think), they can cross women off their list of voters to get.  THAT’S why their response to the Republicans off the charts misogynism has been so tepid.  They don’t want to scare the men away.  Ladies, when are we ever going to learn to make them put their money where their mouths are before we sign on?  As long as they think you are going to their side out of fear of the Republicans, they don’t have to do anything for you.  They’ll just sit back and call Republicans meanies on your behalf and let the decimation of your rights continue with little interference.

3.) If you want to keep your job, don’t get pregnant.  Ever.

4.) If you don’t want to get pregnant, emigrate.

QED, women are fucked under both parties.

Recently, I was over at Violet’s place reading her comments section and I think her commenters, some of them may be readers here, are onto something.  Basically, the reason why women’s rights are getting eroded under Obama and why Hillary Clinton faced so much opposition among party activists is because there is this little cadre of guys in the Democratic party for whom war is THE issue.  There is no other issue that gets their attention quite so much.  Just because the hopes and dreams and civil rights of 53% of the American public are under attack does not mean that they will be deflected one iota from concentrating all of their attention on war and torture.  Now, that is not to say that war and torture are not important but I think we have given this tiny group of latent sexist assholes enough of a platform to express their views.  It’s  time they stopped bogarting the mic and realized that they are undermining their own causes when they depress and demotivate their female sympathizers.  It’s not all about them.

They are our Anthony Kennedys.

14 Responses

  1. How can war be an issue for these guys unless you mean they are in favor of prolonging them or starting new ones?

    What has Obama done to pull back from America being the neighborhood bully trashing other folk’s property?

    How do women self-identify?

    As women first, then Democrats or republicans or is it the other way around?

    I think the Democratic elite are banking on the latter, that you put the party before your needs.

    On Rush Limbaugh and Slutgate, how many of you have taken AM talk radio of your tuner presets?

    How many of you have stopped listening to the affiliated FM stations and sent them an E-mail why?

    • I stopped listening years ago and yes, I did send them email. And I told them over the phone when they called during the pledge drives.
      No, I have never listened to Rush butcha know, there’s not a lot we can do to influence Republicans. They are what they are. We can only influence Democrats. And what is happening there?? There are days when I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who is promoting the strategy of holding Democrats accountable and threatening them. The left seems too scared to do anything but go with the program. I’m disgusted.

  2. RD, I think you really sell yourself short when you suggest things like ending the wars can wait. It shouldn’t be either or. I expect you if you and any true liberal to denounce both war and infringement on women’s rights anything less is selling yourself short and enabling bad policy. I think this is what they want you to do – become overwhelmed with bad policies so they become socially acceptable and you only end up fighting one issue.

    • On the contrary, I have every reason to want the wars to end. I have a relative in Afghanistan after all and the wars are eating too much money and eroding our civil liberties.
      But I’m not the one you should be lecturing. Why aren’t you asking why guys in the “creative class” spend so much of their time getting bent out of shape over the IWR but don’t seem to be similarly apoplectic over the attack on women’s agency in their personal and public lives?
      It’s a strange phenomenon, doncha think? You’re getting on my case about why I seem not to think the war is important but you’re not asking Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein, Markos Moulitisas and Greg Sargent why they don’t put more emphasis on women’s issues. They get the access and the big spotlight and they are all men. where are the female bloggers with that kind of stature?
      Why don’t you ask them why it has to be either/or? Where is their commitment to US? And then ask yourself if women are being well represented in the media.
      BTW, I think I have said this before but you won’t end the wars until the economy is back to normal. While we are still trying to employ and feed ourselves, no one has the time to focus on ending the war. Think about that. Ever since the crash of 2008, the war has taken a back seat in the media and it will continue to do so. So by having these guys focus so much attention to wars and torture and not enough on the economy and what is happening to the lives of women who work, they are actually undermining their own cause.
      Here’s the thing: whatever the left is doing isn’t working. It isn’t working because the left has its priorities all wrong. If you don’t believe me, just think it through. What is the best way to end the wars? Protesting the wars or protesting the economy?

      • people often say the economy should be the top priority – well, tell that to the protestor who has just fallen victim of unjust law enforcement and is handcuffed and taken away. Tell that to the women and men overseas who are on high alert. You NEED coalitions or pro bono lawyers, protestors focusing their attention on torture, war etc.

        But you are 100% right about male writers not giving a shit about women’s rights. I think it’s uncomfortable for them. I’m going to chalk it up to western culture. Is it a a grown up don’t let the girls play with the boys attitude? Why do you think this is?

        • Elect women.

          Women will end the wars and promote workplace parity. Too bad they will have all those so-called progressives nipping their ankles the truly important things like appearance, tone of voice or one position on one issue. Because for women one difference of opinion or vote is a deal breaker.

          Those guys aren’t even THAT interested in ending the wars. They want to eat at the cool lunch table and will do or say whatever it takes to keep that spot. Oh, and they will sometimes whine about the wars so the basement dwelling boyz will still click and comment. Having the traffic and acting as compliant tools ensures that they get to stay in that seat at the cool table.

        • Why? Because we let them.
          Ask yourself why the atheists, 99% and hoodied people can get rallies and marches together but not women. Can’t you just imagine what’s going on behind the scenes? Women’s orgs must be furious with the white house not taking a firmer stance but there Obama is telling them it’s really important to show solidarity in an election year and that now is not the time to Rick the boat. Can you imagine Martin Luther King backing off from Kennedy and LBJ with that kind of reasoning? Fuck no. He just matched on Washington anyway. But women’s orgs? Hardly a peep. They say very little except Barry, Barry, he’s our man!
          That’s why. No one takes women seriously. They should be threatening and demanding. They do nothing
          As for picking a priority. If the shock doctrine is correct, and I have no reason to believe it isn’t, then it behooves us to concentrate on the one thing that will give us the most leverage and power and not get overwhelmed by everything else that’s going on around us. The most important thing is the economy. Women make up a great portion of the economy. Putting people back to work, especially women, will help fix the economy. We have to be steely in our resolve and not be distracted by anything else. I think it suits the Republicans just fine to have some high profile lefties freaking out about the war. But protesting the lousy policies of the 1% will be just as effective at pointing out our weaknesses in the area of first amendment rights. You won’t get public sentiment on your side about the war until the public can focus on it with its full attention. One thing at a time. The public will not like it if the left spends too much te and energy on a subject they want to table for now. I know that as a woman, I’m not motivated by the war as much as my own economic survival. We need to maintain our dignity when it comes to work, compensation and the social safety net. First things first.

          • I suspect we’ll never fix the economy without ending our quasi-imperial resource wars, and the bankruptive military spending that goes along with them. I guess that makes me one of the “both-anders”.

            But yes, Mucus Mo’Cheetos and his ilk are dorks. Their antiwar stance is pretty much the only good position they take. I doubt these upper-middle class fauxgressive boyz care much about us peasants.

  3. I’m seriously considering voting for Romney this time around rather than not voting, at all as in 2008. Because back then, I thought, there was a possibility that the Dem leadership would do something for the 99%. Now, it’s obvious voting against such Dem behavior as we’ve seen in the last few years is a needed consequence. All the calls for Hillary Clinton to run in 2016 from people like Pelosi are disgusting. It’s like the women and children getting the guy’s leftovers for dinner.

  4. Good call on Kennedy.

    Just a reminder, he was the 9th Circuit judge who lifted then Assistant, later State Attorney General, now Governor Christine Gregoire’s brief to make the argument that killed comparable worth for women nationwide. And cost the women of Washington State a $384 million dollar award in back pay.

    This is on the way to being disappeared, so you may want to archive it while you can. It was a submission by the Center for Constitutional Rights in opposition to Judge Kennedy’s Supreme Court nomination:

    Click to access search

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: