Professor Catharine MacKinnon’s editorial endorsing Barack Obama appears in today’s Wall Street Journal (of all places!). It is titled “Obama is the Way Forward for Women: Abortion Rights and Equal Pay Are at Stake in the Election” and focuses largely on the way the next President will affect the law of women’s rights. Some excerpts:
At stake in this presidential election are the federal courts. Despite inroads, women’s status remains characterized by sex-based poverty and impunity for sexual abuse from childhood on. The next president will appoint scores of lower court federal judges who will have the last word in most cases. One, perhaps three, justices may be named to a Supreme Court that in recent years has decided many cases of importance to women by just one vote. Equality can be promoted in employment, education, reproductive rights and in ending violence against women — or not.
Positions on women’s rights do not divide neatly along conventional political lines, nor is abortion their sole template. As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor demonstrated, conservatives can oppose sexism they see in operation, including forms of violence against women that some liberals do not see as such. Reaching across ideology can win legal arguments, but who judges those arguments, at this moment in time, could make or break women’s equality in law, hence in life, for generations. An Obama presidency could restore that balance in fairness that ideological appointments by past administrations have upset, and that Mr. McCain has committed to continue.
Neither presidential candidate has taken a position on all of these issues. But the decision, in Mr. Obama’s words, on “what kind of America our daughters will grow up in” could not be more urgent. At stake is nothing less than whether women will be, finally, equal.
- David S. Cohen