One thing the Senate probably won’t screw up

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, January 8, 2009 18:30 EDT
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We hope, at least. Nancy Pelosi has declared that passing the Lilly Ledbetter Act is a major priority for the House, and that it will likely pass tomorrow. The act is a way to get around the Supreme Court’s use of a really strained technicality to invalidate discrimination claims filed by women who discover they’ve been getting paid less due to the irrelevant to job performance innie/outie status of their genitals. The Supreme Court claimed that Lily Ledbetter had missed the deadline to file because she failed to file her claim 6 months after her first paycheck. All reasonable people see this for what it is—a strike against equal pay from a male-dominated court, using a strained technicality as an excuse. Ruth Bader Ginsburg rarely reads dissents from the bench, but she was so moved to anger by this frank bullshit that she had to for this case, and the dissent has a tad more sarcasm and anger than she’s used to employing.

The good news is that technicalities like the one the Supreme Court used can easily be addressed by Congress. The Ledbetter Act clarifies that the window to file a suit begins after the latest paycheck, not the first one, giving a woman time to find out that she’s being discriminated against in the first place.

In other economic news for women, I found from Kathy G pointed my attention to this petition to the Obama administration, requesting that any economic stimulus package should be written with care that women and minorities get their fair share of jobs. Linda Hirshman sounded the alarm early, pointing out that most of the jobs that Obama has been talking about in his discussions of this economic package are in industries that are male-dominated, sometimes with men outnumbering women more than 9 to 1. But there’s plenty of areas where economic investment could help rebuild this country and employ women, too, such as education and health care. I wrote a piece additionally pointing out that universal health care is just going to make our nursing shortage worse, and so it’s in the administration’s best interests to find ways to get more workers into nursing school now, even if you have to pay them some kind of salary so that they can make the transition without worrying about how they’re going to pay their bills in the meantime. Of course, we could also create teacher training programs that give wannabe teachers on-the-job training so that they can contribute and get paid while getting their certifications.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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