Justice Ginsburg upset: USSC won't rule outside the law

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Little-Acorn, May 30, 2007.

  1. Little-Acorn
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    Little-Acorn Gold Member

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    Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg made a speech from the bench recently, that points out the fundamental difference in viewpoint between law-abiding and lawbreaking judges. We should probably thank her for so explicitly identifying her misconceptions of what the Court's job is.

    There's a Federal law saying that people can sue their employer for wage discrimination based on sex. But only for events that happened within the last 180 days. Sounds like sort of a statute-of-limitations thing, I guess. Things that happened more than 180 days ago, can't be sued over, says the current Federal law.

    A woman sued her employer for a record of many years of such pay discrimination. In a 5-4 decision, the Supremes said she couldn't sue, because she couldn't prove any such incidents happened within 180 days of when she first sued.

    Ginsburg was in the minority, and said that it was a wrong decision, because the law should have been written to allow more earlier incidents to be included. She wanted the Court to rule as though the law WERE written that way, even though it clearly wasn't.

    Thus, Ginsburg showed that she believed the Courts' job was to literally change the law and grant the woman her suit, against the current law as written. The majority said that that was NOT the courts' job, it was Congress's job to decide how the laws should be written. And in this case it was Congress who should change the law, if they saw fit to do so. Only if a law came into conflict with a higher law (the Constitution in this case), could the Courts step in. And this law did not conflict.

    EXCELLENT decision by the Supremes. I'm sorry the woman got the shaft - it sounds like she genuinely was discrimiated against. But Congress has to change the law, to bring about a just result - NOT the courts. Good job by the Supremes (five of them, anyway) in resisting the temptation to change the law themselves.

    The other three Justices signed on to Ginsburg's mistaken dissent. And so showed themselves unqualified to be judges in any court in the land.

    Thank you, Justice Ginsburg, for ferreting out and exposing the lawbreaking Justices in the Supreme Court. Too bad you're one of them.

    One of George W. Bush's most significant legacies, will be that he replaced lawbreaking judges such as Sandra O'Connor, with law-abiding ones like Roberts and Alito. And he still has 1-1/2 years of his term left, in which Stevens and/or Ginsburg might retire.

    We can only hope.

    ---------------------------------------------

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/29/AR2007052900740_pf.html

    Over Ginsburg's Dissent, Court Limits Bias Suits

    By Robert Barnes
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Wednesday, May 30, 2007; A01

    A Supreme Court once again split by the thinnest of margins ruled yesterday that workers may not sue their employers over unequal pay caused by discrimination alleged to have occurred years earlier.

    The court ruled 5 to 4 that Lilly Ledbetter, the lone female supervisor at a tire plant in Gadsden, Ala., did not file her lawsuit against Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in the timely manner specified by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    The decision moved Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to read a dissent from the bench, a usually rare practice that she has now employed twice in the past six weeks to criticize the majority for opinions that she said undermine women's rights.

    Speaking for the three other dissenting justices, Ginsburg's voice was as precise and emotionless as if she were reading a banking decision, but the words were stinging.

    "In our view, the court does not comprehend, or is indifferent to, the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination," she said.

    Last month, Ginsburg rebuked the same five-justice majority for upholding the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act and for language in the opinion that she said reflected "ancient notions about women's place in the family and under the Constitution -- ideas that have long since been discredited."

    Yesterday she said that "Title VII was meant to govern real-world employment practices, and that world is what the court today ignores." She called for Congress to correct what she sees as the court's mistake.

    In a case that Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said was easily decided on the statute "as written," her statement from the bench was noteworthy.

    Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, said Ginsburg's attention-getting dissents are a "clarion call to the American people that this slim majority of the court is headed in the wrong direction." She noted Ginsburg's background as a feminist legal activist who helped establish women's legal rights and added: "To see them being dismantled is especially troubling."

    While Greenberger and others said the court's decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. was a "setback for women and a setback for civil rights," business groups applauded the "fair decision" that, in the words of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "eliminates a potential wind-fall against employers by employees trying to dredge up stale pay claims."

    A jury had originally awarded Ledbetter more than $3.5 million because it found "more likely than not" that sex discrimination during her 19-year career led to her being paid substantially less than her male counterparts.

    An appeals court reversed, saying the law requires that a suit be filed within 180 days "after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred," and Ledbetter could not prove discrimination within that time period. She had argued that she was discriminated against throughout her career, receiving smaller raises than the men received, and that each paycheck that was less was a new violation.

    Alito wrote for the majority that "current effects alone can't breathe life into prior, uncharged discrimination." He was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Thomas is a former chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    "We apply the statute as written, and this means that any unlawful employment practice, including those involving compensation, must be presented . . . within the period prescribed by the statute," Alito said.

    Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, said: "If the court ruled the opposite way, employers could have been hauled into court on decades-old claims of discrimination."

    But Ginsburg, joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter and Stephen G. Breyer, said the decision sets up a sometimes impossible barrier. "Pay disparities often occur, as they did in Ledbetter's case, in small increments; only over time is there strong cause to suspect that discrimination is at work," she wrote.

    Even when unequal pay is discovered, she wrote, women may be reluctant to go to federal court over small amounts: "An employee like Ledbetter, trying to succeed in a male-dominated workplace, in a job filled only by men before she was hired, understandably may be anxious to avoid making waves."
     
  2. jillian
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    jillian Princess Supporting Member

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    While Judge Ginsberg may have been incorrect (and I don't know because I haven't read the decision, but for argument's sake, I'll assume she was), instead of whining about her dissent, perhaps your energies would be better spent focused on venal policies that protect discriminatory behavior engaged in by corporations.
     
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  3. Truthmatters
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    Im sure it right wing drivel
     
  4. Little-Acorn
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    Little-Acorn Gold Member

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    And perhaps they wouldn't. The deletorious effects of judges legislating from the bench according to their own personal whims, rather than leaving that to elected officials who were given that job, are far more dangerous to the nation than what some corporation decides to do. Particularly in issues you haven't shown to be "venal" at all, beyond caling it names.

    I'll leave you to devote your own energies to that, jillian. Just make sure you aim at the right target: Legislatures whose job it is to make laws, not the courts.
     
  5. jillian
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    jillian Princess Supporting Member

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    I don't misplace my energies. I accepted the premise that Ginzberg may have been wrong (though AGAIN, I haven't read the decision, only someone elses assessment of the decision). And if you truly understood the damage a restriction like the one under discussion does in terms of protecting corporations who discriminate, then your ire would be directed at the policies (i.e., republican legislature) that enacted such a restriction.

    If you are concerned about court's legislating from the bench, though, you might want to point a finger at the right wing appointees who eviscerated whistleblower protection which had been properly legislated.
     
  6. RetiredGySgt
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    RetiredGySgt Platinum Member

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    Ahh so you can link to this law and provide a list of who voted for it and signed it into law?
     
  7. jillian
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    jillian Princess Supporting Member

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    It wasn't passed in the last six months. It was passed under the repub congress.

    And do let me know when you've found a legislature with a democratic majority which votes to undermine anti-discrimination laws to protect corporations.
     
  8. RetiredGySgt
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    RetiredGySgt Platinum Member

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    Waiting for a link.....
     
  9. Truthmatters
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    Who is it taht decides wether a law is unconstitutional?
     
  10. jillian
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    jillian Princess Supporting Member

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    You'll be waiting a while. I don't have time to do your homework since I have my own work to do.

    If you have a point to make, do your research and make it.
     

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