Supreme Court of Canada Cites a Feminist Judgment in Opinion on Exclusion of Evidence of Victim’s Prior Sexual Conduct

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The Supreme Court of Canada issued a decision on June 28, 2019 in the case of R. v. Goldfinch, 2019 SCC 38 (CanLII). The case involved an appeal of an evidential ruling in a criminal sexual assault trial. Canada Criminal Code Section 276 provides that evidence of the victim’s sexual activity “whether with the accused or with any other person, is not admissible to support an inference that, by reason of the sexual nature of that activity, the complainant (a) is more likely to have consented to the sexual activity that forms the subject-matter of the charge; or (b) is less worthy of belief.”

The trial court judge permitted the defendant to introduce evidence of his “friends with benefits” relationship with the victim. A jury found the defendant not guilty. The Crown (or, in U.S.-speak, the prosecution) appealed the trial court’s decision to admit evidence of the defendant’s prior consensual sexual encounters with the victim. The Court of Appeal found that the trial court erred in permitting the introduction of that evidence.

Justice Andromache Karakatsanis

The defendant then exercised his as-of-right opportunity to have the Supreme Court of Canada review the question of whether the trial court erred in allowing admission of evidence of the “friends with benefits” relationship.

The Supreme Court of Canada held that the trial court did err, and ordered a new trial. In a plurality opinion written by Justice Andromache Karakatsanis, the Court reasoned that Section 276 serves two purposes. First, the rule “protects the integrity of the trial process by safeguarding both the dignity and privacy of complainants and the right of accused persons to make full answer and defence.” Second, the rule “is designed to exclude irrelevant information that is more prejudicial to the administration of justice than it is probative.” In this case, the introduction of the friends-with-benefits information “served no purpose other than to support the inference that because the complainant had consented in the past, she was more likely to have consented on the night in question,” Justice Karakatsanis explained, and therefore it was inadmissible.

Professor Jennifer Koshan

Professor Jennifer Koshan of the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary is one of the founding members of the Women’s Court of Canada (the original Feminist Judgments project). In 2016, she published a “shadow opinion” in R v. JA (2011), a Supreme Court of Canada case that found a spouse could not consent in advance to certain sexual acts to occur when she subsequently became unconscious.  Professor Koshan’s feminist judgment, “Marriage and Advance Consent to Sex: A Feminist Judgment in R v JA” explored, among other themes, the tension between recognizing real harm and also respecting sexual autonomy.

In the Goldfinch decision, Justice Karakatsanis cited Professor Koshan’s feminist judgment in support of the proposition that “the suggestion that sexual assault is less harmful to those who are sexually active or in relationships is simply wrong.”

As far as I know, this is the first time that a court has cited a feminist judgment.  It is a real milestone in the global development of feminist judgments projects. Hopefully more judges will incorporate feminist judgments into actual opinions.

Based on the example of the Women’s Court of Canada, groups of scholars and lawyers have published projects based in England/Wales, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the U.S., Scotland, and in the field of International Law.  Projects are ongoing in India, Africa, Mexico. In the U.S., there is a whole series of subject-matter specific feminist judgments books.  The appeal of this new form of socio-legal scholarship is undeniable. It allows the rewriter to show that precedents and facts do not lead inevitably to a single conclusion, but that a judge’s ruling, reasoning or both will depend on context and perspective.

Thank you, to the members of the Women’s Court of Canada, for leading the way.  And congratulations, Professor Koshan, on being the author of the first feminist judgment to be cited by a court!

Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Criminal Law, Feminist Legal Scholarship | Comments Off on Supreme Court of Canada Cites a Feminist Judgment in Opinion on Exclusion of Evidence of Victim’s Prior Sexual Conduct

Black Women and Non-Binary Writers Paying Tribute to Toni Morrison #CiteBlackWomen

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Dr. Tara L. Conley (Communication, Montclair State) has compiled a list of online essays written by Black women and non-binary writers in tribute to Toni Morrison in the wake of her August 5 death. Dr. Conley’s list is here. She welcomes additions.

Here is an excerpt from Dr. Conley’s own essay, In Toni Morrison’s Hometown, the Familiar Has Become Foreign:

When I heard Toni Morrison passed away, I thought it odd that someone immortal could die. * * * I knew Mom and I would soon be making an eight-hour drive from New York City to Elyria for a family funeral. The last three years of visiting home has been because of funerals. On this trip, I wanted to visit Toni Morrison’s childhood home for the first time.

Reader, the irony of going home to visit Toni Morrison’s childhood home after her death, amidst a series of family homegoings isn’t lost on me. * * *

Morrison called Ohio “neither plantation nor ghetto,” and that’s how I remembered it, too. At the Christian school I attended in Lorain, my classmates were black, Puerto Rican, and white. Our parents worked together at industrial plants and telephone companies. I always felt a sense of shared class consciousness growing up in Elyria-Lorain. Racism wasn’t talked about so much as it was quietly experienced by family members and friends. I was called a nigger on the playground, and so was my mom, and so was my mom’s mom. But that was our problem to deal with.When Donald Trump was running for president, that shared sense of class struggle I knew growing up seemed like a lie. White family friends defended Trump and his rallies; they refused to see him as a problem and became less and less reticent about showing their support. Sports team banners used to tell people what we were most proud of in Northeast Ohio. Now Trump 2020 signs do.

This place I know is foreign.

Read the full essay here.

Posted in Deaths, Feminism and Culture, Feminism and the Arts, Race and Racism | Comments Off on Black Women and Non-Binary Writers Paying Tribute to Toni Morrison #CiteBlackWomen

Cook on Expert Witnesses in Sex Trafficking Prosecutions

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Blanche Cook (Kentucky) has posted to SSRN her article Stop Traffic: Using Expert Witnesses to Disrupt Intersectional Vulnerability in Sex Trafficking Prosecutions, 24 Berkeley J. Crim. L. 147 (2019). Here is the abstract:

Sex trafficking thrives on intersectional inequality and reinforcing layers of vulnerability. Sex trafficking exists on a continuum of sexualized violence, from microaggressive sexual harassment to macroaggressive gang rapes, all of which create vulnerability in the victim and perfect sovereignty in the perpetrator. Sexualized violence performs power, as it is raced, classed, and gendered. Power not only requires performance, but it necessitates repetitive reenactments of domination in order to normalize its compulsive and pathological nature. Lynchings, police shootings, gang rapes, and sex trafficking are all performances of power on vulnerable bodies through which power perfects itself. The same inequality that creates the necessary preconditions for vulnerability to violence in the first instance, also obfuscates or masks power’s pathology and compulsivity in the investigative and adjudicative processes. By way of illustration, victim blaming renders the pathology of the perpetrator invisible because it removes accountability from the perpetrator and shifts blame onto the victim. Shifting blame onto the victim obfuscates or hides power’s omnipresence, compulsiveness, and pathology. The victim blaming process is pervasive, systemic, and entrenched. Without proper interventions, sex trafficking cases can become ritualized spectacle, where sexualized violence as well as its accompanying investigation and adjudication convince the factfinder of the pathology of the victim and the sovereignty of the perpetrator. The pathology that surrounds victims of sexualized violence adversely impacts their credibility and extends narratives about male entitlement to vulnerable bodies. The recent cases involving R. Kelly and Cyntoia Brown illustrate these points. In the case of singer, song writer Kelly, his videotaping sex with an underaged black female resulted in an acquittal.

The full article is available here.

Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Criminal Law, Sex Trafficking | Comments Off on Cook on Expert Witnesses in Sex Trafficking Prosecutions

Jill Hasday on “Intimate Lies and the Law”

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Jill Hasday’s new book, Intimate Lies and the Law, is out from Oxford University Press on July 24.  She says that deception within intimate relationships is a fascinating topic—especially when it happens to someone else.

For more information, you can check out Jill’s website here

Here’s a description of the book:

Intimacy and deception are often entangled.  People deceive to lure someone into a relationship or to keep her there, to drain an intimate’s bank account or to use her to acquire government benefits, to control an intimate or to resist domination, or to capture myriad other advantages.  No subject is immune from deception in dating, sex, marriage, and family life.  Intimates can lie or otherwise intentionally mislead each other about anything and everything.

Suppose you discover that an intimate has deceived you and inflicted severe—even life-altering—financial, physical, or emotional harm.  After the initial shock and sadness, you might wonder whether the law will help you secure redress.  But the legal system refuses to help most people deceived within an intimate relationship.  Courts and legislatures have shielded this persistent and pervasive source of injury, routinely denying deceived intimates access to the remedies that are available for deceit in other contexts.

Jill Elaine Hasday’s Intimate Lies and the Law is the first book that systematically examines deception in intimate relationships and uncovers the hidden body of law governing this duplicity.  Hasday argues that the law has placed too much emphasis on protecting intimate deceivers and too little importance on helping the people they deceive.  The law can and should do more to recognize, prevent, and redress the injuries that intimate deception can inflict.

Entering an intimate relationship should not mean losing the law’s protection from deceit.

Posted in Feminist Legal Scholarship, Recommended Books | Comments Off on Jill Hasday on “Intimate Lies and the Law”

@RebelCityPod on a Really, Really Important Scottish Feminist You Probably Never Read About

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Via freelance journalist Alex Tiffin (@RespectisVital), I got pointed to the Rebel City Podcast, a podcast made in Glasgow by Paul Shields and Matt Diamond. 

On a recent episode, the podcast featured Ray Barron-Woolford (@Raywoolford), the author of a new book, The Last Queen of Scotland (2019).  It’s not about that Queen of Scotland. Nope. It’s a fascinating history of Kath Duncan (1888-1954), a Scottish political organizer, labor activist, and advocate for the poor.  Here is an excerpt of a review by Chrissy Hamlin of The Hidden Herstories blog:

Woolford’s book tells how Kath Duncan was a highly significant champion of the poor and the unemployed. She was a tireless campaigner for workers’ rights and spent 2 jail terms in Holloway prison for making political speeches. The National Council for Civil Liberties supported her in a landmark court case on the freedom of speech but not many history books will tell you that fact. Duncan also opposed fascism, took part in the Battle of Cable Street and was central to the Aid to Spain movement in the 1930’s. She was a key player in these things – so by rights she should be a household name or have a memorial or statue erected somewhere.

Woolford’s very well researched biography defiantly places Kath Duncan’s story right back into the public eye where it belongs, and restores her to her rightful position as one of the leading civil-rights activists of our time. Her political campaigning can be linked to several of the most significant moments in 20th century British history and has relevance to many of the social and political issues we have today.  

In a year when we are celebrating 100 years of some women getting the vote in the UK – it is vital that we also recognise and acknowledge the life and work of Kath Duncan – a working class woman who played just as significant a role in politics as The Pankhurst’s, Nancy Astor or Barbara Castle. In a world where we constantly strive for more equality this book has an important message about how society deals with freedom of speech and civil liberty. Kath Duncan’s story has finally been uncovered by Woolford and all of us really ought to read it. 

The full review is here. An excerpt of the book is available online here.

The podcast episode is here, among other places (search “Kath Duncan” and “Rebel City Podcast”). I learned a great deal!

Posted in Feminist Legal History, Sisters In Other Nations | Comments Off on @RebelCityPod on a Really, Really Important Scottish Feminist You Probably Never Read About

CFP: 12th Feminist Legal Theory Conference at University of Baltimore School of Law: Applied Feminism and Privacy – Deadline 11/1

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From colleagues at the University of Baltimore:

The Center on Applied Feminism at the University of Baltimore School of Law seeks paper proposals for the Twelfth Feminist Legal Theory Conference.  We hope you will join us for this exciting conference on April 2 and 3, 2020.  The theme is Applied Feminism and Privacy. As always, the conference focuses on the intersection of gender and race, class, gender identity, ability, and other personal identities. We are excited that Dr. Leana Wen, President and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, has agreed to serve as our Keynote.

We are at a critical time for a broad range of privacy issues. State level abortion bans have put a spotlight on the importance of decisional privacy to women’s equality. Across America, advocates are fighting for reproductive justice and strategizing to preserve long-settled rights. At the same time, our informational privacy is increasingly precarious. Data brokers, app designers, and social media platforms are gathering and selling personal data in highly gendered ways. As a result, women have been targeted with predatory marketing, intentionally excluded from job opportunities, and subject to menstrual tracking by marketers and employers. In online spaces, women have been objectified, cyber-stalked, and subject to revenge porn.  With regard to physical privacy, the structural intersectionality of over-policing and mass incarceration impacts women of color and other women.  And while a man’s home may be his castle, low-income women are expected to allow government agents into their homes – and to turn over reams of other personal information — as a condition of receiving state support. In addition, families of all forms are navigating the space of constitutionally-protected family privacy in relation to legal parentage, marriage and cohabitation, and child welfare systems.

We seek submissions of papers that focus on the topic of Applied Feminism and Privacy.  We will interrogate multiple aspects of privacy, including its physical, decisional, informational, and family dimensions. This conference aims to explore the following questions:  Is privacy dead, as often claimed?  If so, what does this mean for women? How can privacy reinforce or challenge existing inequalities?  How has feminist legal theory wrestled with privacy and what lessons can we draw from past debates? What advocacy will best advance privacy protections that benefit women? How do emerging forms of surveillance impact women? Can intersectional perspectives on privacy lead to greater justice? Who defines the “right to privacy” and what do those understandings mean for women? How is privacy related to other values, such as autonomy, anti-subordination, vulnerability, justice, and equality?

We welcome proposals that consider these questions and any other related questions from a variety of substantive disciplines and perspectives. The Center’s conference will serve as a forum for scholars, practitioners, and activists to share ideas about applied feminism, focusing on connections between theory and practice to effectuate social change. The conference will be open to the public.

To submit a paper proposal, by Friday, November 1, 2019, please complete this form and include your 500 word abstract:

We will notify presenters of selected papers by early December. About half the presenter slots will be reserved for authors who commit to publishing in the annual symposium volume of the University of Baltimore Law Review, our co-sponsor for this conference. Thus, the form requests that you indicate if you are interested in publishing in the University of Baltimore Law Review’s symposium issue. Authors who are interested in publishing in the Law Review will be strongly considered for publication. The decision about publication rests solely with the Law Review editors, who will communicate separately with the authors. For all presenters, working drafts of papers will be due no later than March 20, 2020. Presenters are responsible for their own travel costs; the conference will provide a discounted hotel rate as well as meals.

We look forward to your submissions. If you have further questions, please contact Prof. Margaret Johnson at For additional information about the conference, please visit

Posted in Call for Papers or Participation | Comments Off on CFP: 12th Feminist Legal Theory Conference at University of Baltimore School of Law: Applied Feminism and Privacy – Deadline 11/1

Margaret Johnson (@ProfMEJohnson1) is @UBaltLaw’s First Associate Dean for Experiential Education

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Margaret Johnson has been appointed as the University of Baltimore School of Law’s first Associate Dean for Experiential Education.

Readers of this blog may know Professor Johnson as the School’s Co-Director (with Michele Gilman) of the Center on Applied Feminism. She is also a prior President of Clinical Legal Education Association and prior Chair of the clinical conference planning committee (and newly appointed to the editorial board of the Clinical Law Review, too).

If you haven’t read it yet, Professor Johnson has a fantastic article soon to appear in print: Menstrual Justice, UC Davis L. Rev (forthcoming 2019).

Congratulations, Margaret, on the new responsibilities!

Posted in Chutes and Ladders, Feminist Legal Scholarship | Comments Off on Margaret Johnson (@ProfMEJohnson1) is @UBaltLaw’s First Associate Dean for Experiential Education

Op Ed on Discriminatory #TamponTax

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Erwin Chemerinsky (UC Berkeley) and Jennifer Weiss-Wolf (Period Equity) have published an op-ed in the LA Times, Taxing Tampons Isn’t Just Unfair, It’s Unconstitutional. Here is an excerpt:
In the United States, where sales taxes are levied by each state, bills have been introduced in 32 legislatures since 2016 to exempt menstrual products from sales tax. Five succeeded: Connecticut, Florida, Illinois and New York passed laws. Additionally, citizens of Nevada approved a 2018 ballot measure to accomplish the same. Another 10 states don’t tax menstrual products — either because they collect no sales tax at all, or because they’re included under general exemption categories. * * * 
As a matter of policy, compassion and common sense, most states explicitly exempt “necessities of life” from sales tax, with food and medicine at the top of the list. In some states, necessity exemptions include things such as bingo supplies, cotton candy, erectile dysfunction pills, gun club memberships and tattoos. Menstrual products certainly rank as a necessity for most women, for much of their lives. They are essential for attending school, working and functioning in society. * * *
In 2016, five plaintiffs brought a class-action lawsuit against the New York State Department of Taxation making these arguments. The case was withdrawn after the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo quickly responded to public outcry and passed legislation.
But the central argument advanced in that case is valid, and it is one increasingly being made by legal scholars. It should be raised again in the courts. A law that affects only one sex — or one race, or one religion — is inherently discriminatory. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once famously remarked that a tax on yarmulkes is a tax on Jews (interestingly, in a case about abortion clinic blockades). In the same vein, a tax on a product used only by women, and used by all (or the vast majority of) women for much of their lives, is a tax on women. * * * 
Eliminating the discriminatory tampon tax isn’t a legislative nicety or a budgetary option. It is a legal mandate. Period.
The full piece is available here. See also this article by Emily Waldman (Pace) and me: The Unconstitutional Tampon Tax, 53 U. Richmond L. Rev. 339 (2018).
Posted in Women and Economics | Comments Off on Op Ed on Discriminatory #TamponTax

CFP: Integrating Doctrine and Diversity: Inclusion & Equity in the Law School Classroom

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Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to invite you to consider submitting contributions to a new book we are editing. It is tentatively titled Integrating Doctrine and Diversity: Inclusion & Equity in the Law School Classroom. This book will be published by Carolina Academic Press as a title in their Teaching series.

Call for Submissions

We are looking for law professors who teach 1L subjects who want to write a case study or practical resource for how to integrate diversity into the legal classroom. While we have secured several authors already, we are looking for professors who teach Contracts, Constitutional Law, Torts, Property, Criminal Law, Civil Procedure, & Legal Writing.


Each major chapter will focus on one doctrinal class common to the 1L curriculum and will have 3 essays/case studies of about 3500 words in length, written by a professor of that subject. Each chapter will also have a selected annotated bibliography of resources for teaching diversity/inclusion/equity written by a law librarian specific to each subject. This is the first book of this kind and promises to be ground-breaking and exciting. Law professors are asking for resources on how to better incorporate serious issues of diversity/inclusion/equity into the curriculum and no resource currently exists which provides a variety of case studies and annotated resources organized by subject.

Education resources exist on this topic for use in the classroom but up until now they have not been organized and presented by topic for ease of use. The goal of this project is to bring together the insights and experiences of law faculty from J.D. programs across the country to strengthen the cultural competency of law students.”

Please email a statement of interest and a one paragraph summary of your piece to let us know if you want to participate and some basic information about yourself. The deadline for proposals is July 31, 2019.


The final version must be no longer than 3500 words. We will be using Bluebook format for all footnotes. For questions about style, such as how to write a particular word (i.e., email or e-mail), we will be using The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. 



Notification of Accepted Submissions: By August 7, 2019.

Contract Completed and Returned: By August 16, 2019 (Submit to

First Complete Draft Due: December 2, 2019 (Submit to

Final Draft Due: February 1, 2020 (Submit to

Publication: Spring 2021.

Questions or concerns:

If you have any questions/concerns/problems, please contact one of the editors.

Contact a member of the editorial team:

Nicole P. Dyszlewski

Raquel Gabriel

Suzy Harrington-Steppen

Anna Russell

Genevieve Tung

Posted in Academia | Comments Off on CFP: Integrating Doctrine and Diversity: Inclusion & Equity in the Law School Classroom

@DukeLaw Journal of Gender, Law & Policy Shutting Down After 2019-2020 Academic Year

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I found this out after I made a submission. The student editors replied that they had filled the volume for next year, and that would be their last.

I haven’t seen any official press release from the school.

Posted in Feminist Legal Scholarship, Law Schools | Comments Off on @DukeLaw Journal of Gender, Law & Policy Shutting Down After 2019-2020 Academic Year

#Tampon #Tax Back in Tanzania

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From Agence France Presse:

A decision by Tanzania’s government to reintroduce a tax on sanitary pads and tampons has angered women in the country, with one activist on Sunday saying it would have “heavy consequences” for women.
Taxes on female sanitary products — which are basic necessities — have come under increasing scrutiny across the globe, and Tanzania in 2018 decided to join those nations scrapping Value Added Tax on pads and tampons.
However the tax was re-introduced during the unveiling of this year’s budget last week.
Finance Minister Philip Mpango said removing the tax was counter-productive, as retailers had not lowered their prices.
The full story is here.
When the government needs more money, it (re)imposes a tax on a product that is  inextricably linked to biological sex. If that’s not discrimination, what is?
Posted in Sisters In Other Nations, Women and Economics, Yep, sarcasm. | Comments Off on #Tampon #Tax Back in Tanzania

Ways Around the Tampon Tax – German Style

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Via The Lily News.

Posted in Sisters In Other Nations, Women and Economics | Comments Off on Ways Around the Tampon Tax – German Style

Dov Fox on “Birth Rights and Wrongs”

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Dov Fox (San Diego) has published Birth Rights and Wrongs: How Medicine and Technology are Remaking Reproduction and the Law (Oxford, 2019).  Here is the publisher’s description:


Millions of Americans rely on the likes of birth control, IVF, and genetic testing to make plans as intimate and far reaching as any over a lifetime. This is no less than the medicine of miracles. It fills empty cradles, frees families from terrible disease, and empowers them to fashion their lives on their own terms. But accidents happen.

Pharmacists mix up pills. Lab techs misread tests. Obstetricians tell women their healthy fetuses would be stillborn. Political and economic forces conspire against regulation. And judges throw up their hands when professionals foist parenthood on people who didn’t want it, or childlessness on those who did. Failed abortions, switched donors, and lost embryos may be first-world problems. But these aren’t innocent lapses or harmless errors. They’re wrongs in need of rights.

This book lifts the curtain on reproductive negligence, gives voice to the lives it upends, and vindicates the interests that advances in medicine and technology bring to full expression. It charts the legal universe of errors that:

(1) deprive pregnancy or parenthood of people who set out to pursue them;
(2) impose pregnancy or parenthood on those who tried to avoid these roles; or
(3) confound efforts to have a child with or without certain genetic traits.

This novel architecture forces citizens and courts to rethink the reproductive controversies of our time, and equips us to meet the new challenges-from womb transplants to gene editing-that lie just over the horizon.

The book is available for order on the OUP website (here) and, you know, a certain other websites where many people buy books.

(cross-post from Faculty Lounge)

Posted in Feminist Legal Scholarship | Comments Off on Dov Fox on “Birth Rights and Wrongs”

CFP-Prison Abolition, Human Rights, and Penal Reform: From the Local to the Global

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Bumping to the front; submission deadline 7/15

From colleagues at the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at The University of Texas at Austin, School of Law:

Prison Abolition, Human Rights, and Penal Reform: From the Local to the Global

Mass incarceration and overcriminalization in the United States are subject to critique by some on both the right and the left today. Many critics increasingly talk of prison abolition. At the same time, the international human rights movement continues to rely upon criminal punishment as its primary enforcement tool for many violations, even as it criticizes harsh prison conditions, the use of the death penalty, and lack of due process in criminal proceedings. What would it mean for the human rights movement to take seriously calls for prison abolitionism and the economic and racial inequalities that overcriminalization reproduces and exacerbates? And what might critics of the carceral regime in the United States have to learn from work done by international human rights advocates in a variety of countries?

September 26-28th, 2019, the Rapoport Center will host in Austin an interdisciplinary conference to consider the relationships among the human rights, prison abolition, and penal reform movements. Do they share the same goals? Should they collaborate? If so, in what ways? The conference is co-sponsored by the Frances Tarlton “Sissy” Farenthold Endowed Lecture Series in Peace, Social Justice and Human Rights, Center for European Studies, William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law, LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, John Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, Department of Sociology, Center for Population Research, and Capital Punishment Center.

Ruth Wilson Gilmore will offer the keynote lecture on September 26. We invite proposals for papers, panels, art, or other forms of presentation from activists, practitioners, and scholars in all disciplines. We are eager to include those who study or advocate around criminal law and human rights in different regions and contexts, those who work on various forms of incarceration (including immigration detention), and those who explore alternatives to current criminal punishment regimes. We encourage discussion of the distributive effects of various constructions of and responses to crime. Topics might include:

  • Racial capitalism and prison abolition
  • Prison abolition: short- versus long-term goals
  • Abolition and efforts to reform/transform conditions of confinement: are they in opposition?
  • Capital punishment, human rights, and the goals of death penalty abolition
  • Mass incarceration and surveillance
  • Gender, sexuality, reproductive rights and the prison system
  • Human rights and decriminalization
  • The human rights movement and national and international criminal law
  • Lessons from transitional and restorative justice
  • Incarceration and the intersections of criminal and immigration law
  • Immigration detention and the (private) prison industrial complex
  • Potential responses to violent crime
  • The UN and crime
  • Exportation of criminal justice models: good and bad
  • The role of victims in carceral regimes and anti-carceral responses
  • Reflections on the role human rights courts do and should play in the carceral state
  • Black Lives Matter, human rights, and abolition
  • Queer politics and abolition

Please send an abstract of your paper, panel, or project in under 500 words to Sarah Eliason by July 15, 2019. A limited number of need-based travel grants are available to support travel costs for selected participants. If you wish to apply for a travel grant, please complete this application form by July 15, 2019.

Posted in Prisons and Prisoners, Race and Racism | Comments Off on CFP-Prison Abolition, Human Rights, and Penal Reform: From the Local to the Global

Bra-Gate: A 2019 Tale of Institutional Misogyny (@JCSherriffOffice)

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by JoAnne Sweeny

Back in May 2019, the Jackson County Detention Center, without any warning to local attorneys, instituted a new security policy that requires all visitors, including inmates’ attorneys, to pass through a metal detector.  Seems reasonable in theory but the practice has lead to what, one assumes, is an unintended side-effect: some women’s underwire bras are setting it off.  In response, instead of simply using a wand to determine what is setting off the alarm as other prisons do, the Jackson County Detention Center is not letting the women pass until they do not set off the detector.  Which means, their bras must come off.

This is not unique to Kansas City.  An even more draconian policy was implemented in Lancaster County prison in 2018: visitors were given only two chances to pass the metal detector and women were required to wear a bra under prison rules.  These policies resulted in women removing the wire from their bras or buying new ones.  A Maryland jail was sued in 2011 after two women were required to take their underwire bras off before visiting even though prison officials had stated four months earlier that underwire bras were allowed.

What makes the situation worse in Kansas City is that this is a detention center, not a prison; almost everyone held there has not been convicted of a crime and is therefore presumed innocent.  Moreover, it is attorneys – who have already been vetted by the detention center – who are being turned away.  A similar situation in Portland, Maine in 2015 led to official apologies.  But in Kansas City, the officials’ response to the attorneys’ complaints has actually added insult to injury.

First, Sheriff Darryl Forté denied that the problem was even happening by calling it “misinformation” and insisting that no one was told to take their bras off.  This is technically true but, as one attorney put it, if the choice is entering the detention center sans bra or not seeing your client, the detention center isn’t actually giving you a choice.  Similarly, when the issue was brought to the attention of a judge as part of a larger proceeding about the burdens suffered by the public defenders in Jackson County, the (male) judge also denied the problem existed, arguing that no one else seemed to have a problem with it.  These denials of the actual experiences of female attorneys are extremely troubling.

Next, the Director of the Department of Corrections, Diana Turner, offered a “solution”: women could keep their underwire on but would only have no contact meetings with inmates, which means that their attorneys would have to see them through glass.  As the attorneys have pointed out, this “solution” impedes their ability to meaningfully interact with their clients and build a rapport with them.  Using a telephone to communicate through a pane of glass makes it impossible for attorneys to go over evidence with their clients or have them sign documents, which are essential tasks for a lawyer, particularly when their client is still awaiting trial.  It’s no wonder that the attorneys found this solution to be a non-starter.

Director Turner also attempted to turn the gender issue into a class issue by accusing the complaining attorneys of “want[ing] privilege” as part of the “educated elite” because they don’t mind that all corrections officers must pass though the same security.  Turner argued that attorneys have essentially stated that “it’s reasonable to suspect your people.  Your staff is just [corrections officers].”  However, no complaining attorney has stated that female corrections officers should be subjected to this policy.  Moreover, there may be a reason to treat corrections officers differently; there is no record of an attorney ever smuggling contraband but, just last year, a former Jackson County corrections officer was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison for smuggling contraband.  Finally, the detention center strip searches every inmate after they meet with their attorneys so even if attorneys were trying to smuggle in contraband, the corrections officers would catch it.  So, this isn’t about contraband at all.  Something else is going on here.

Back to the story.  Despite Forté and Turners’ best efforts, this issue has not gone away.  A letter was signed by over 70 attorneys – men and women – and addressed to prison officials as well as the local legislature.  The issue was also publicly taken up by legislator Kristal Williams and last week there was a peaceful protest and a 90-minute meeting of the County Legislature. At the legislative meeting, the attorneys were met with intransigence.  Sheriff Forté said they would not change the policy, despite several legislators voicing their concerns.  Forté did agree to meet with the complaining attorneys but no date has been set and there is certainly no reason to be hopeful that he will have a change of heart.

Indeed, he has already retaliated.  Forté recently filed a Sunshine Act request to see the emails from attorneys to legislator Williams regarding this issue. When criticized, Forté defended his request as an effort to “educate the community about open records, as well as to ascertain facts about alleged comments.” It is unclear what “education” his request will provide or what “facts” he needs to discover.

So, for those keeping score, when women (and, later, men) complained about a policy they found unnecessary, humiliating, and sexist, they were met with: gaslighting, false solutions, accusations of privilege, stonewalling and, finally, retaliation.  And this is against attorneys who are well-positioned to fight back.  There are 300 female workers at the Jackson County prison and several of them had to buy new underwear just to do their jobs, which Director Turner described positively as these workers “making adjustments” to the policy.  However, their union complaints indicate that they would have preferred to not have taken on such an unnecessary expense and merely capitulated to keep their jobs.

But there is a (sort of) happy ending here.  A week after the legislative hearing, attorneys have reported that their underwire bras are no longer setting off the metal detectors, though Sherriff Forté has stated that the machines were not changed.  One can only hope that this is the end of the saga.

Addendum from Bridget Crawford: Jackson County Sheriff Forté @sheriffforte has blocked Feminist Law Professors from following him on Twitter because of questions sent by me, from the FLP Twitter account, asking for clarification of the policies at the Jackson County Detention Center. For that reason, I have added the (general) Twitter handle of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office to the title of this blog post, so that the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office will receive a Twitter notice of this blog post. The actions of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office are attracting negative national attention.  I believe that Sheriff Forte’s blocking this account on Twitter is unconstitutional under Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump, 302 F. Supp. 3d 541 (2018). Sheriff Forté seems to believe that he does not have to respect the First Amendment rights of members of the public who question him respectfully.  Let’s see if this blog post gets us banned by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, too.

Posted in Criminal Law, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and Culture, Feminism and Law, Feminism and the Workplace, If you're a woman, Legal Profession, Prisons and Prisoners | Comments Off on Bra-Gate: A 2019 Tale of Institutional Misogyny (@JCSherriffOffice)

Hiring Announcment: Detroit Mercy Seeks to Fill 2 Positions

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Announcement: Property Law Position

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law seeks a proven or aspiring scholar and teacher with an interest in teaching first-year Property Law for a tenured or tenure-track position beginning 2020-2021.  Applicants must have a law degree and strong academic background and must demonstrate either a record of or potential for both teaching excellence and high scholarly achievement in any area of law.  The balance of the teaching package will be determined in conversation with the successful candidate.

To Apply

Applicants should send a cover letter, which should include a brief description of their ideal teaching package and a general indication of their areas of scholarly interest.  Please direct the cover letter, a current CV, additional supporting materials (if any), and any questions you may have to:

Professor Julia Belian, Chair of Faculty Recruitment

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

651 East Jefferson

Detroit, Michigan 48226

(, 313-596-0225)

Materials will be accepted via email or regular mail.  Review of applicants will begin in July 2019 and will continue until the position is filled.


Announcement: International Intellectual Property Clinic Director

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law seeks applicants for a tenured or tenure-track position to teach in and direct the International Intellectual Property Law Clinic starting with the 2020-21 academic year.

The Clinic

The International Intellectual Property Law Clinic is certified by the USPTO for both patent and trademark law and serves the burgeoning creative and entrepreneurial community in Detroit.  In 2012, the USPTO chose Detroit as the location for its first satellite office because Detroit and its surrounding communities are home to one of the largest concentrations of intellectual property attorneys in the United States.  Part of a growing Intellectual Property program at Detroit Mercy Law, the International Intellectual Property Law Clinic hosts the annual International Patent Drafting Competition, which is held at the Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional USPTO each February.  The Competition attracts teams from law schools across the United States and Canada.  Detroit Mercy Law also offers an on-line Certificate in Law – Intellectual Property. This non-JD program meets the needs of professionals and organizations for knowledge of intellectual property and cybersecurity laws.  


Applicants must

  • Have a law degree and strong academic background.
  • Demonstrate either a record of or potential for both teaching excellence and high scholarly achievement. 
  • Be either a registered patent attorney, a patent agent in good standing with the USPTO, or a licensed attorney in good standing with the highest court of any state.

Ideal candidates will also possess at least three years’ experience (within the past five years) prosecuting patent applications before the USPTO.  Applicants with some experience teaching in a law clinic are preferred, and applicants who are excited about continuing to grow our Intellectual Property Law program, in addition to directing the existing Clinic, are of particular interest.

To Apply

Applicants should send a cover letter with a current CV and any additional supporting materials (or any questions) to:

Professor Julia Belian, Chair of Faculty Recruitment

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

651 East Jefferson

Detroit, Michigan 48226

(, 313-596-0225)

Materials will be accepted via email or regular mail.  Review of applicants will begin in July 2019 and will continue until the position is filled.

About Our Program of Legal Education

Detroit Mercy Law offers a unique curriculum that complements traditional theory- and doctrine-based course work with intensive practical learning.  Students must complete at least one clinic, one upper-level writing course, one global perspectives course, and one course within our Law Firm Program, an innovative simulated law-firm practicum.  Detroit Mercy Law also offers a Dual J.D. program with the University of Windsor in Canada, in which students earn both an American and a Canadian law degree in three years while gaining a comprehensive understanding of two distinct legal systems. 

The Detroit Mercy Law Clinical Program is one of the oldest in the United States, having opened our doors as the Urban Law Clinic in 1965. Today, we offer eleven clinics, including the Criminal Trial Clinic, Environmental Law Clinic, Family Law Clinic, Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Clinic, Housing Law Clinic, Immigration Law Clinic, Juvenile Appellate Clinic, International Intellectual Property Law Clinic, Trademark and Entrepreneurial Clinic, Veterans Appellate Clinic, and Veterans Law Clinic. Each year our clinics represent more than 1,000 clients and provide more than 20,000 hours of free legal services.

Detroit Mercy Law is located one block from the riverfront in Downtown Detroit, within walking distance of federal, state, and municipal courts, the region’s largest law firms, and major corporations such as General Motors, Quicken Loans, and Comerica Bank.  The School of Law is also uniquely situated two blocks from the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, an international border crossing linking Detroit with Windsor and Canada. 

Detroit offers a dynamic variety of culinary, cultural, entertainment, and sporting attractions.  See and learn more at

Michigan’s largest, most comprehensive private university, University of Detroit Mercy is an independent Catholic institution of higher education sponsored by the Religious Sisters of Mercy and Society of Jesus.  The university seeks qualified candidates who will contribute to the University’s urban mission, commitment to diversity, and tradition of scholarly excellence.  University of Detroit Mercy is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer with a diverse faculty and student body and welcomes persons of all backgrounds.


Posted in Chutes and Ladders, Law Schools, Law Teaching | Comments Off on Hiring Announcment: Detroit Mercy Seeks to Fill 2 Positions


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I learned a new word today: hireath. From a 2016 student blog at Penn State (here):

Hiraeth is a Welsh word that is somewhat difficult to describe in English, for the reason that there is no single English word that expresses all that it does. Some words often used to try to explain it are homesickness, yearning, and longing.  

However, there is more depth to hiraeth than in any of those words on their own. It seems to be a rather multi-layered word, which includes a different variety of homesickness than what is generally referred to. This kind of homesickness is like a combination of the homesickness, longing, nostalgia, and yearning, for a home that you cannot return to, no longer exists, or maybe never was. It can also include grief or sadness for who or what you have lost, losses which make your “home” not the same as the one you remember.

One attempt to describe hiraeth in English says that it is “a longing to be where your spirit lives.” This description makes some sense out of the combination of words that describe this feeling.  The place where your spirit feels most at home may be a physical location that you can return to at any time, or it may be more nostalgic of a home, not attached to a place, but a time from the past that you can only return to by revisiting old memories. Maybe your spirits home could even be neither of the above, one from which you are not only separated by space or time, but instead a place that never was, where you can only go in your imagination. * * *

Home to me includes the places I would go to as a kid–places like my grandparents’ houses, and the elderly couple’s house across the street from mine. I remember my maternal grandmother elaborately decorating her house for Christmas and Easter, having meals there for each of those big holidays. I remember her, when my family and I visited her house, and my paternal grandfather, when we visited his house, offering everyone cookies even when we were so stuffed we could hardly eat another bite. I remember the neighbors visiting us for the family parties that were held at my house, and my brother and I occasionally visiting them in their house to share a snack and hear some of their stories about the past. The most significant difference between the home I remember and the home I can return to, is that some of the people I remember as a part of home are no longer living.

The full post is here.

Posted in Sociolinguistics | Comments Off on #Hireath

Who is Getting Rich? Not Minimum-Wage Workers

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Over at Forbes, contributor Erik Sherman has a data-filled article here that begins with an eye-popping statistic: the federal minimum wage has not increased in almost 10 years.  That’s a record (and not a good one, in my view).

After sifting through some recent statistics from the Federal Reserve, Sherman summarizes:

At the starting period, Q3 of 1989, the percentage of total wealth owned by the top 1% of the economic order was 23%. For the 90% to 99%, the percentage was 38%. The 50% to 90% had 36% of the wealth and the bottom half owned 4% of the wealth.

Now look at Q4 of 2018. The top 1% held 31% of the wealth. Next, the group between 90% and 99% had 39%. Those between 50% and 90% of the population had 29% of the wealth, while the bottom half had 1%.

Upshot: The very rich got richer.  The bottom half (half!) became comparatively poorer.

Some wage increases went into effect on January 1, 2017 in New York City.  All over New York State, the minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $15/hour, mostly by 2021.  That’s not much, but it is a start.

Let’s see whether the presidential campaign brings renewed attention to the issue.

Posted in Academia, Women and Economics | Comments Off on Who is Getting Rich? Not Minimum-Wage Workers

@PittLaw Tax Review Hosts Print Symposium

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U.S. Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions

The Pittsburgh Tax Review has published a print symposium/series of essays reviewing or inspired by U.S. Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions (Cambridge 2017). Here’s the table of contents with links to the contributions:

Anthony C. Infanti, Bridget J. Crawford
Kim Brooks
Diane Klein
Ann Mumford
Ajay K. Mehrotra
Hilary G. Escajeda
Åsa Gunnarsson
Ann O’Connell, Kerrie Sadiq
Alice G. Abreu
Montano Cabezas, Brandon King
Posted in Feminist Legal Scholarship, Women and Economics | Comments Off on @PittLaw Tax Review Hosts Print Symposium

CFP: Gender Justice-Theoretical Practices of Intersectionality

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CFP for Essay Collection

Title: Gender Justice: Theoretical Practices of Intersectional Identity

Series: Law, Culture and Humanities (Farleigh Dickinson U Press)

This essay collection examines how gender, as a category of identity, must continually be understood in relation to how structures of inequality define and shape its meaning. It asks how notions of “justice” shape gender identity and whether the legal justice system itself privileges notions of gender or is itself gendered. Shaped by politics and policy, Gender Justice seeks proposals for essays that contribute to understanding how theoretical practices of intersectionality relate to structures of inequality and relations formed as a result of their interaction.

Given its theme, the collection invites essays that examine theoretical practices of intersectional identity at the nexus of “gender and justice” that might also relate to issues of:

  • Sexuality
  • Race
  • Class
  • Age
  • Ability

Proposals to include:

  • Abstract of 200-words
  • Author biography of 100-words

Submission deadline: June 29, 2019

Send to: Editor: Elaine Wood, JD, PhD;

Posted in Call for Papers or Participation, Feminism and Law | Comments Off on CFP: Gender Justice-Theoretical Practices of Intersectionality

@MarcSpindelman on “Obergefell’s Dreams”

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I’m just catching up with some of the gems in my “to read” pile. I enjoyed very much Obergefell‘s Dreams by Marc Spindelman (Ohio State). Here is an excerpt from the intro:

As doctrine, Hardwick has been defanged, but as method—defined by illogic and unreason—Hardwick’s law remains. In Obergefell, this method and its law carry the day.
To say this is to face facts that Obergefell’s readers either already know or should. The opinions in the case, both in majority and in dissent, turn with emotion and twist with passion’s fevers. They trade accusations that, across marriage equality’s bottom line, are modes of thinking that have come unhinged from reason. This is no dispute in which only one side is right. As the Obergefell majority opinion seals the coffin on Hardwick’s distinctively homophobic, hence irrational, sensibilities, it joins with the dissenting opinions in the case to dredge up Hardwick’s dormant irrationality as an approach to decision, giving that approach a renewed lease on constitutional, hence legal, hence social, life. What follows in these pages is one part—the first part—of that account. It begins with a close reading focused on the lead Obergefell dissent written by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. The second part, to be published as a separate article, will focus its attentions on the Obergefell majority opinion written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
The discussion here proceeds as follows. First is background that situates the work in its intellectual context. Next is an engagement with Chief Justice John Roberts’s Obergefell dissent. Through a close reading of this opinion, one part of a larger case is made out: On Obergefell’s dissenting side at least is doctrinal machinery that rests atop, and may even be defined by,the complex and shifting soil of reason’s eclipse.
The full article is available here. It is beautifully written and thought-provoking.
Posted in Feminist Legal Scholarship, LGBT Rights | Comments Off on @MarcSpindelman on “Obergefell’s Dreams”

The Malleable X: On Queer Origins of “Latinx”

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John Paul Brammer (@jpbrammer) writes (here) in Mother Jones how Digging Into the Messy History of “Latinx” Helped Me Embrace My Complex Identity. Here is an excerpt:

A June 2018 survey found that Latino millennials are the least likely bracket in their generation to consider themselves straight. But the term “Latinx” is considered fraught, even reviled, by some. And at best, it has been unevenly adopted. A November story in the New York Times, for example, listed the eight books “reshaping Latinx literature.” A review in the same publication—about a book called Latinx—refers to the “Latino community” and “Latinos” and “Latina.” The newspaper uses the term on a case-by-case basis, according to editor Concepción de León, as conversations about the term and its usage continue to evolve. (Mother Jones does its best to honor an individual’s preference.)

To understand where “Latinx”—and the debate over it—came from, it helps to know a little history about the word “Latino.” Chicano writer David Bowles, who teaches literature at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, laid it out in a thread on Twitter: The part of the Americas colonized by the Spanish Empire was known historically as the Monarquía Hispánica, or the Hispanic Monarchy, because the Latin word for Iberia (home of the Spaniards) was “Hispania.” When these territories eventually won their independence from the Spanish crown, they became home to distinct cultures shaped by mestizaje, the mixing of European, indigenous American, African, and other ethnicities. Scholars trace the term “América latina” to 1856, when it was used by Chilean writer Francisco Bilbao and Colombia’s José María Torres Caicedo. For these thinkers, the phrase helped unite the southern regions below the United States in anti-­imperialist sentiment. * * *

Because Spanish is one of many languages that ascribe a gender to nearly everything, “Latino” (male) was paired with “Latina” (female). At some point in the late 1990s, people who felt they didn’t fit into one of those two descriptors started searching for a more inclusive one. First came “Latin@”—a symbol that combines the “a” and the “o.” But how do you pronounce that? * * *

These days, “Latinx” pops up most frequently in stories about the LGBT community, and it’s often to describe young people, says Brian Latimer, an associate producer at MSNBC who identifies as nonbinary. “I think it’s fascinating—it shows a generational divide in the Hispanic community,” Latimer says. And though it has lightly peppered conversations in Latin America, it has been most championed by people of Latin American descent living in the United States, a fact that has colored the pushback against it. * * *

Though the letter “x” in Spanish can take on a pronunciation similar to the English “x,” it can also take on an “s” sound, or an “h” sound, as with the Mexican state of Oaxaca. “By replacing o’s and a’s with x’s, the word ‘Latinx’ is rendered laughably incomprehensible to any Spanish speaker without some fluency in English,” they wrote. “It does not provide a gender-neutral alternative for Spanish-speaking non-binary individuals and thus excludes them.” (And even English speakers say everything from la-TEEN-ex to LAT-in-ex to la-TEENKS.)

Writer Hector Luis Alamo echoed the frustration in an
opinion piece for the media outlet Latino Rebels titled “The X-ing of Language: The Case AGAINST ‘Latinx.’” Alamo, an Afro-Latino whose family hails from Honduras and who is the founder of Enclave magazine, argued that the term constitutes a “bulldozing of Spanish.” It’s “an academic word, and that group always thinks it knows what’s best for the rest of us,” Alamo told me via email. “Activists and people who want to appear liberal have adopted the word (and are calling out people for not using it).” It’s a critique that has also been leveled at terms like “cisgender” and “nonbinary”—all were devised and propagated by elite academic circles—but “Latinx” carries the added whiff of imperialism. “I want to caution everyone reading against the arrogant supposition that Latin Americans needed US Latinx folx to teach them that Spanish has sexist elements,” Bowles wrote in a Medium post in December. “They figured that shit out for themselves long before we did.”

Whether it is loved or hated, the word at least makes readers think. * * * As the biracial son of Mexican immigrants, I have, at various stages of my life, described myself as Latino, Mexican American, Hispanic, and Chicano. None of these words ever felt quite right; none of them painted the whole picture of how I see myself or how I want to be seen. I felt I had inherited a chaotic identity with too many facets; language, race, geography—which one should win out? But mestizaje tells us it is precisely this struggle, the search for a cohesive identity, that defines us as a people. The “mixedness” is not a halfway state of being, but a complete state of being unto itself. I can think of no better extension of that sentiment than “Latinx,” a word that concedes to malleability, the “x” willing to become whatever it needs to be for the person who wears it.

Posted in Feminism and Culture, Sociolinguistics | Comments Off on The Malleable X: On Queer Origins of “Latinx”

Future Business Law Professors Conference @Villanova_Law

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Future Business Law Professors Conference

Presented by the John F. Scarpa Center for Law and Entrepreneurship

Friday, September 6, 2019
9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

The John F. Scarpa Center for Law and Entrepreneurship will host the Future Business Law Professors Conference on Friday, September 6. All visiting assistant professors, fellows, researchers, law clerks, practitioners and others who are considering entering the higher education academic teaching market in business law – including business associations, securities regulation, corporate finance and business ethics – are invited to attend.

Registration is here.

Participants will learn more about the business law teaching market, receive advice on how to be a successful candidate and meet future colleagues. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in mock interviews and get a sneak-peak into the hiring process from current business law faculty. Some will be able to present their job talk paper to leaders in the field and receive feedback.

Appointments committee members from any law school potentially hiring in the business law field are also invited to attend.

Senior faculty tentatively scheduled to attend include:

  • Albert Choi (University of Michigan Law School)
  • Jill Fisch (University of Pennsylvania Law School)
  • Arthur Laby (Rutgers University Law School)
  • Tom Lin (Temple University, Beasley School of Law)
  • Andrew Lund (Villanova University, Charles Widger School of Law)
  • Jennifer O’Hare (Villanova University, Charles Widger School of Law)
  • Urska Velikonja (Georgetown University Law Center)
Posted in Chutes and Ladders, Law Schools, Law Teaching, Upcoming Conferences | Comments Off on Future Business Law Professors Conference @Villanova_Law

CFP: Critical Legal Conference 2019, Perugia Italy

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The University of Perugia invites streams [i.e., pre-organized panels, etc.] and papers for the 2019 Critical Legal Conference. The event will take place between 12–14 September 2019. The deadline for submission of abstracts is the 15th of July.  The conference website is here. The official CFP follows.

Theme: Alienation

The 2019 Critical Legal Conference main theme will circle around the concept of “alienation”, a quite ambiguous word, used in social sciences particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries to indicate among other things, a social and cultural estrangement, a state of powerlessness and anomie (from Greek anomia: lawlessness, normlessness) and also a feeling of self-estrangement.

The idea is to focus on three declinations of the concept of alienation covering several fields of interest both within and outside the law.

The first one is based on the classic Marxian conception of alienation. Drawing from Hegel’s dialectical movement, Karl Marx described alienation as the condition of labour under capitalism: on the one hand, the worker sold his labour power to the capitalist and his work thus becomes an alien object which exists independently, outside him; on the other hand, work is compelled to be spontaneous and creative, it is merely a means to satisfy needs external to it, and the worker’s subjectivity undergoes a process of substantial objectification.

The second declination involves the conceptual structure of the idea of ​​alienation and traces back its roots to the remote and very profound categories of cultural identities.

By entering into our cultural unconscious, we can grasp the multifaceted potential of the notion of alienation in the constant change into aliud – alienum that animates classical mythology: the universe described in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, for example, appears as a sort of celebration of “becoming other “, which functions as a device able to unexpectedly connect distant levels of reality. Through the stories of gods and heroes emerges the image of a reality in which identities are not static, but intrinsically dynamic, and the boundary between “being” and “becoming” is permeable and crossable back and forth.

The last declination is a push to broaden the concept of alienation beyond its immediate dimension. If Marx’s notion of alienation implies the objectification of the subject and consequently inequalities, exclusion and loss of identity, then alienation is the condition of those social groups marginalize by the actual stage of capitalist society. It is the sensation of those kept outside the mainstream perimeter. Alienation becomes a framework able to capture different social and political struggles: the feelings of migrants and minority groups within national societies and the European policies toward them. Alienation can also refer to the situation of several social categories (low-income workers, women, squatters, etc..) excluded and criminalized according to such policies and treated like aliens within western society.


We welcome both independent panels and papers, and stream, panel and paper proposals. Current streams include:

    • Gramsci’s alienation as finding new ways of thinking
    • Migrations: aliens and the need to re-imagine the nation
    • Legal Aesthetics (Organiser: Thomas Giddens (Dundee))
    • Affect, Alienation & Law (Organisers Swastee Ranjan (Sussex) & Illan Wall (Warwick))
    • Gender, Race and Alienation
    • Alienation and family law: “parental alienation”, best interest of the child
    • Artificial intelligence and alienation
    • Alien nations: authoritarian constitutionalism
    • The deconstruction of Sovereignty
    • Alienation as a counter hegemonic discourse
    • Constructing the Other: Alienation
    • Marx and the Law, how legal discourse frames the objectivation of the subject
    • Alien(s) and the City: Urban spaces, gentrification, touristification and informality
    • Colonial and postcolonial spaces as systems of alienation
    • General Stream

Conference Details

The event will take place in the Department of Law at the University of Perugia: 33, via A. Pascoli 06123 Perugia. Further details of the conference fee, registration and website will be available in the coming weeks.

For further details, please contact Giacomo Capuzzo (

Posted in Call for Papers or Participation, Feminist Legal Scholarship | Comments Off on CFP: Critical Legal Conference 2019, Perugia Italy

Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Health Law Opinions

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Seema Mohapatra (Indiana-Indianapolis) and Lindsay Wiley (American University WCL) are the co-editors of a new volume-in-progress in the U.S. Feminist Judgments Series.  Their volume, Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Health Law Opinions, will include these cases and contributors:

(1) Schloendorff v. Society of New York Hospitals, 105 N.E. 92, 93 (N.Y. 1914)

  • Commentary Author: Danielle Pelfrey Duryea, University at Buffalo School of Law
  • Rewritten Opinion Author: Kelly Dineen, Creighton University School of Law

(2) Bouvia v. Superior Court, 179 Cal. App. 3d 1127 (Cal. Ct. App. 1986)

  • Commentary Author: Joan H. Krause, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law
  • Rewritten Opinion Author: Barry R. Furrow, Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

(3) Conservatorship of Valerie N., 40 Cal.3d 143 (1985)

  • Commentary Authors: Cynthia Soohoo and Sofia Yakren, CUNY Law School
  • Rewritten Opinion Author: Doriane Lambelet Coleman, Duke University School of Law

(4) Burton v. State, 49 So.3d 263 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2010)

  • Commentary Author: Greer Donley, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
  • Rewritten Opinion Author: Nadia Sawicki, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

(5) Reynolds v. McNichols, 488 F.2d 1378 (10th Cir. 1973)

  • Commentary Author: Aziza Ahmed, Northeastern University School of Law
  • Rewritten Opinion Author: Wendy Parmet, Northeastern University School of Law

(6) National Institute of Family & Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, 138 S.Ct. 2361 (2018)

  • Commentary Author: Brie Clark, Loyola Law School Los Angeles
  • Rewritten Opinion Author: Sonia Suter, The George Washington University School of Law

(7) Moore v. Regents of University of California, 793 P.2d 479 (Cal. 1990)

  • Commentary Author: Jessica Roberts, University of Houston Law Center
  • Rewritten Opinion Author: Lisa Ikemoto, UC Davis School of Law

(8) Doe v. Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co., 179 F.3d 557 (7th Cir. 1999)

  • Commentary Author: Christina Ho, Rutgers University School of Law
  • Rewritten Opinion Author: Valarie Blake, West Virginia University College of Law

(9) Smith v. Rasmussen, 249 F.3d 755 (8th Cir. 2001)

  • Commentary Author: Heather McCabe, Indiana University School of Social Work and Robert H. McKinney School of Law
  • Rewritten Opinion Author: Craig Konnoth, University of Colorado School of Law at Boulder

(10) Means v. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, No. 15-1779 (6th Cir. 2016)

  • Commentary Author: Maya Manian, University of San Francisco School of Law
  • Rewritten Opinion Author: Leslie C. Griffin, University of Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law

(11) Linton v. Commissioner of Health and Environment, 65 F.3d 508 (6th Cir. 1995)

  • Commentary Author: Ruqaiijah Yearby, St. Louis University School of Law
  • Rewritten Opinion Author: Gwendolyn Majette, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

(12) Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999)

  • Commentary Author: Doron Dorfman, Stanford Law School
  • Rewritten Opinion Author: Becka Rich, Nova Southeastern University

(13) Does v. Gillespie, 867 F. 3d 1034 (8th Cir. 2017)

  • Commentary Author: Liz Kukura, Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law
  • Rewritten Opinion Authors: Jennifer Oliva, West Virginia University College of Law; Melissa Alexander, University of Wyoming College of Law

In addition to this fantastic roster of volume contributors, the project has a wonderful Advisory Panel:

More information about the project’s workshops and progress to follow!

Posted in Feminist Legal Scholarship, Women's Health | Comments Off on Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Health Law Opinions

New Bibliographic Resource on Gender and the Law in Japan

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I’ve posted two two working papers up on the Social Science Research Network.  The first, developed with one of my students, Kallista Hiraoka, aims to present a comprehensive bibliography of English language scholarship on the subject.  The bibliography contains approximately 140 publications including monographs, book chapters, textbook materials, and journal articles from 1962 to 2018.

We’ve posted the bibliography as a working paper and invite advice of any omissions or errors before we submit this for print journal publication.  We hope this will be a valuable tool for gender equality advocates anywhere in the present draft and its later final publication.

In the meanwhile, perhaps of interest are some of my tentative explorations on the theme, including herstory of Japan’s first women lawyers and its first cohort of women judges, and a critical eye on how improvements in gender balance within the nation’s bar appear to be flatlining.  One update from that paper is that the Japan Federation of Bar Associations has taken note of this issue and begun actively working to find mechanisms to address it. 

The bibliography is here. The paper is here.

If anyone wishes a deeper dive, the University of Washington Law School team kindly recorded my lecture on this paper there last Fall and posted it online here.    

Mark Levin

Posted in Feminist Legal Scholarship, Sisters In Other Nations | Comments Off on New Bibliographic Resource on Gender and the Law in Japan

Call for Proposals for the Third Annual Equality Law Scholars’ Forum

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Building on the success of the Inaugural Equality Law Scholars’ Forum held at UC Berkeley Law in 2017 and at UC Davis Law in 2018, and in the spirit of academic engagement and mentoring in the area of Equality Law, we (Tristin Green, University of San Francisco; Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Boston University; and Leticia Saucedo, UC Davis) announce the Third Annual Equality Law Scholars’ Forum to be held in Spring 2020.  This Scholars’ Forum seeks to provide junior scholars with commentary and critique and to provide scholars at all career stages the opportunity to engage with new scholarly currents and ideas.  We hope to bring together scholars with varied perspectives (e.g., critical race theory, class critical theory, feminist legal theory, law and economics, law and society) across fields (e.g., criminal system, education, employment, family, health, immigration, property, tax) and with work relevant to many diverse identities (e.g., age, class, disability, national origin, race, sex, sexuality) to build bridges and to generate new ideas in the area of Equality Law.  

We will select five relatively junior scholars (untenured, newly tenured, or prospective professors) in the U.S. to present papers from proposals submitted in response to this Call for Proposals. In so doing, we will select papers that cover a broad range of topics within the area of Equality Law.  Leading senior scholars will provide commentary on each of the featured papers in an intimate and collegial setting.  The Forum will take place all day Friday through lunch on Saturday.  Participants are expected to attend the full Forum.  The Equality Law Scholars’ Forum will pay transportation and accommodation expenses for participants and will host a dinner on Friday evening.  

This year’s Forum will be held on March 13-14, 2020 at the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Junior scholars are invited to submit abstracts of proposed papers, 3-5 pages in length, by August 1, 2019.

Full drafts of papers must be available for circulation to participants by February 28, 2020.

Proposals should be submitted to:

Leticia Saucedo, UC Davis School of Law,  Electronic submissions via email are preferred.

Posted in Call for Papers or Participation | Comments Off on Call for Proposals for the Third Annual Equality Law Scholars’ Forum

Guide to Submitting to Specialty Law Reviews and Journals in Gender, Women & Sexuality

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I’ve prepared a guide to submitting to 29 specialty law reviews and law journals classified by the W&L Law Journal Rankings under the subject  “Gender, Women and Sexuality,” as well as  5 additional journals with the word “gender” in the title.  The guide is here on SSRN.  The chart contains details on the mechanics of submitting to these 34 journals.

For now, the document contains information about word count limitations, submission details, whether the HeinOnline Law Journal Library indexes the journal’s articles, and other guidelines authors may find relevant when considering sending their work to specialty law reviews in Gender, Women & Sexuality.

Details vary widely from journal to journal. Not all journals accept unsolicited contributions (or are still in existence!).

Corrections, additions, refinements to this chart are very welcome. (SSRN will not make the chart available as a publicly-searchable paper, but it is included in my “privately available” papers accessible from my public SSRN page here. Go figure.)

Posted in Academia, Feminist Legal Scholarship, Law Teaching | Comments Off on Guide to Submitting to Specialty Law Reviews and Journals in Gender, Women & Sexuality

Embryos are Property, Not Persons, at Least in Ohio

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The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports on the case here. An excerpt:

An appellate court Thursday ruled against a couple seeking a legal declaration that their embryos lost in a freezer malfunction last year were living persons and should have been treated as patients, not property.

The 8th District Ohio Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, upheld then-Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Stuart Friedman’s ruling that the frozen embryos were not persons.

H/T Nick Piscka.

Posted in Reproductive Rights | Comments Off on Embryos are Property, Not Persons, at Least in Ohio

Call for Sabbatical Visitors: Columbia Center for Gender & Sexuality Law (@GenderSexLaw)

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From colleagues at Columbia:

The Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School invites applications for a sabbatical visitor for the 2019-2020 academic year to undertake research, writing and collaboration with Center faculty and students in ways that span traditional academic disciplines. The CGSL welcomes applications from faculty from any field who are interested in spending a semester or the academic year in residence at Columbia Law School working on scholarly projects relating to Gender and/or Sexuality Law.

Sabbatical Visitors will receive an office with phone and computer, secretarial support and full access to university libraries, computer systems and recreational facilities. In addition, Sabbatical Visitors will be expected to participate in CGSL activities and present a paper at the Center’s Colloquium Series.

The Center will be accepting submissions through May 15, 2019.  We prefer electronic submissions be sent to

Applicants should submit:

  • Curriculum vitae 
  • Writing sample 
  • Research statement (of approximately 1,000 words) that describes the proposed work during the Sabbatical period
  • Names of two references who are familiar with your current academic research 

Direct questions to: Liz Boylan, Assistant Director for the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law at  Liz may also be reached by phone at 212.854.0167.

Learn more about the Sabbatical Visitors Program on our website, here:

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CFP: Critical Legal Academics and Scholars International Collaborative Virtual Workshops

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Cyra Akila Choudhury (FIU) is coordinating a series of virtual research and writing workshops called CLASIC, the Critical Legal Academics and Scholars International Collaborative.

The workshops will be virtual meetings of collaborative members and can be open to all or by invitation only. It provides a virtual space in which papers, ideas, book proposals, etc., can be workshoped for feedback. The format follows Harvard’s Institute for Global Law and Policy writing workshops.

In addition to workshoping papers, scholars will have the opportunity to collaborate, connect, disseminate work and increase readership/audience for critical legal work that otherwise may be overlooked.

The first workshop will take place on Tuesday, April 23.  More info available here. Anyone interested in participating should email Professor Choudhury: cyra.choudhury (at)

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Call for Panels and Conference Announcement: Women’s Leadership in Academia Conference @UVALaw, July 18-19, 2019

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From colleagues at UVa:

Call for Panel Proposals

We are currently accepting proposals for panels on issues relating to women in legal academia for the second annual Women’s Leadership in Academia Conference, to be held at UVA Law School on July 18-19, 2019. The conference will address the unique perspectives and challenges of women and provide programming that will be useful to developing leaders. Conference programming is focused on building skills and providing tools and information that are directly applicable to women aspiring to be leaders in legal education. Proposals should include a panel title, description, and proposed panelists. Selected panels will be notified by May 15, and panelists’ conference registration and travel costs will be covered. More information on the conference, including a link to provide panel proposals, is available here. Proposals are due by May 1, 2019. For questions, please contact Leslie Kendrick at

Conference news:

Second Annual Women’s Leadership in Academia Conference: July 18-19, 2019

Registration is now open for the second annual conference on Women’s Leadership in Academia, to be held at UVA Law School on July 18-19, 2019. The conference is an event of the Women’s Leadership Initiative, which was developed with the goal of advancing women professors, librarians and clinicians in leadership positions in the legal academy. Conference programming is focused on building skills and providing tools and information that are directly applicable to women aspiring to be leaders in legal education. The conference will address the unique perspectives and challenges of women and provide programming that will be useful to developing leaders. Along with panels and workshops, the conference will feature CV review and advising with recruiters. Travel scholarships are available. Early bird registration is open through May 31, and regular registration continues until the conference reaches full capacity. More information is available here. For questions, please contact Leslie Kendrick at

Posted in Academia, Feminists in Academia, Law Schools, Upcoming Conferences | Comments Off on Call for Panels and Conference Announcement: Women’s Leadership in Academia Conference @UVALaw, July 18-19, 2019

Symposium Program: Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and the Role of Intersectional Legal Analysis

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April 12, 2019 Symposium Sponsored by the Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society

Welcoming Remarks + Framing the Issues 8:45-9:45 am

Professor Linda S. Greene (Wisconsin), Professor Lolita Buckner Inniss (SMU), Sam Bach (WJLGS) 

Session #1: Moderator Linda S. Greene 9:15-10:15 am

Professor Keisha Lindsay  

Professor Lolita Buckner Inniss  

Student Respondents  

Session #2: Moderator Bridget J. Crawford 10:30-11-30 am

Professor Bennett Capers (Brooklyn)  

Professor Noa Ben-Asher (Pace)  

Student Respondents  

Session #3: Keynote Address  

Professor Osamudia James (Acting Dean and Professor of Law, University of Miami School of Law; Former William H. Hastie Fellow, University of Wisconsin 2006-2008) 

Session #4: Moderator: Professor Lolita Buckner Inniss 1:45-2:15 pm

Professor Mehrsa Baradaran

Student Respondents

Student Break-Out Discussions: Moderator Bridget J. Crawford 2:15-3:00 pm

Concluding Remarks 3:00-3:15 pm

Professor Linda S. Greene (Wisconsin), Professor Lolita Buckner Inniss (SMU), Brianna Zawada (WJLGS) 

Posted in Academia, Activism, Race and Racism, Sexual Harassment | Comments Off on Symposium Program: Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and the Role of Intersectional Legal Analysis

Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Black Lives Matter, #MeToo and the Role of Intersectional Legal Analysis: Symposium @WisconsinLaw J. L., Gender & Soc’y

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Today at the University of Wisconsin, the Journal of Law, Gender & Society is hosting a symposium on “Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Black Lives Matter, #MeToo and the Role of Intersectional Legal Analysis: Symposium.” Here is the program description:

Recent years have witnessed an overwhelming outcry from activists who have protested seemingly never-ending instances of unjustified police and vigilante detentions, assaults, and killings of black people. These tragedies cross class and gender lines, as black people from all walks of life seemed at all times prone to being summarily judged and even executed by agents of the state or by self-deputized private citizens. During the same period, we are experiencing a cultural watershed moment, as women have begun to fight loudly and publicly against sexual harassment, violence and abuse by powerful or empowered men. Prior generations of women have often suffered violations and indignities in silence, fearing that formal or informal complaints might endanger their jobs or relationships with coworkers, or even attract more harassment or abuse.

These concerns are exacerbated and further complicated by the involvement of so-called alt-right groups as antagonists to both the #MeToo and the Black Lives Matter movements and by strains of virulent anti-Semitism that often come hand-in-hand with the alt-right’s sexist, racist, and xenophobic rhetoric. One particularly salient example of public allegations of sexual violence recently in the news was the United States Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her caused some to speculate that women throughout the United States would mobilize politically in response. 

While both the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements are critical reflections on compelling legal and social issues, there are some who suggest that the Black Lives Matter movement is fading into obscurity as the minor rumblings of a few disaffected activists who have maximized their media exposure, along the lines of the Occupy movement. In contrast, the #MeToo Movement has spread and flourished across industries in the United States and even around the globe, seeming to reshape the culture and causing many to question the impact of unequal gender relations and to challenge notions of power and sexual autonomy. This is a important moment to enter an unexplored intersection between gender and race.

Speakers include Linda S. Greene (Wisconsin), Lolita Buckner-Inniss (SMU), Noa Ben-Asher (Pace), Bennett Capers (Brooklyn), Osamudia James (Miami), Keisha Lindsay (Political Science, Wisconsin) and Mehrsa Baradaran (Georgia).

Posted in Activism, Feminism and Law, Feminism and Politics, Race and Racism, Sexual Harassment | Comments Off on Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Black Lives Matter, #MeToo and the Role of Intersectional Legal Analysis: Symposium @WisconsinLaw J. L., Gender & Soc’y

Call for Authors–Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Property Law Opinions

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Deadline for Applying: Friday, April 26, 2019

The U.S. Feminist Judgments Project seeks contributors of rewritten judicial opinions and commentary on the rewritten opinions for an edited collection tentatively titled Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Property Opinions. This edited volume is part of a collaborative project among law professors and others to rewrite, from a feminist perspective, key judicial decisions in the United States. The initial volume, Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court, edited by Kathryn M. Stanchi, Linda L. Berger, and Bridget J. Crawford, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. Cambridge University Press has approved a series of Feminist Judgments books. In 2017, Cambridge University Press published the tax volume titled Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions. Other volumes in the pipeline include rewritten trusts and estates opinions and rewritten family law opinions.

Property law volume editors Eloisa C. Rodriguez-Dod and Elena Maria Marty-Nelson seek prospective authors and commentators for multiple rewritten property opinions covering a range of topics. With the help of an advisory board of distinguished property law scholars, the editors have selected a list of cases that have not appeared in other Feminist Judgment volumes; potential authors are welcome to suggest opinions which do not appear on the list.

Proposals must be either to (1) rewrite a case opinion (subject to a 10,000-word limit) or (2) comment on a rewritten opinion (subject to a 4,000-word limit). Rewritten opinions may be re-imagined majority opinions, concurrences, or dissents. Authors of rewritten opinions will be bound by the law and precedent in effect at the time of the original decision. Commentators should explain the original court decision, how the rewritten feminist opinion differs from the original decision, and the impact the rewritten feminist opinion might have made. The volume editors conceive of feminism as a broad movement and welcome proposals that bring into focus intersectional concerns beyond gender, such as race, class, disability, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, national origin, and immigration status.

To apply, please email (1) a paragraph or two describing your area of expertise and your interest in this project; (2) your top two or three preferences from the list of cases below; and (3) whether you prefer to serve as an author of a rewritten opinion or an author of a commentary to a rewritten opinion. Please submit this information via email to the editors, Eloisa C. Rodriguez-Dod and Elena Maria Marty-Nelson, at and by Friday, April 26, 2019. The Feminist Judgments Project and the Property book editors are committed to including authors from diverse backgrounds. If you feel an aspect of your personal identity is important to your participation, please feel free to include that in your expression of interest. The editors will notify accepted authors and commentators by Monday, May 13, 2019. First drafts of rewritten opinions will be due on Monday, September 16, 2019. First drafts of commentaries will be due on Monday, October 28, 2019.

Tentative list of cases below.

  1. Moore v. City of E. Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494 (1977) (exclusionary zoning)
  2. Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 569 U.S. 576 (2013) (patents)
  3. Sawada v. Endo, 561 P.2d 1291 (Haw. 1977) (tenancy by the entireties)
  4. Gruen v. Gruen, 496 N.E.2d 869 (N.Y. 1986) (inter vivos gifts)
  5. Coggan v. Coggan, 239 So. 2d 17 (Fla. 1970) (ouster of co-tenant)
  6. Phillips Neighborhood Hous. Tr. v. Brown, 564 N.W.2d 573 (Minn. Ct. App. 1997) (lease termination for illegal activity)
  7. Taylor v. Canterbury, 92 P.3d 961 (Colo. 2004) (secret severance of joint tenancy)
  8. White v. Samsung Elecs. Am., Inc., 971 F.2d 1395 (9th Cir. 1992) (publicity rights)
  9. Johnson v. M’Intosh, 21 U.S. 543 (1823) (Native American property rights)
  10. Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U.S. 374 (1994) (exactions/eminent domain)
  11. Bartley v. Sweetser, 890 S.W.2d 250 (Ark. 1994) (premises liability)
  12. Tate v. Water Works & Sewer Bd. of City of Oxford, 217 So. 3d 906 (Ala. Civ. App. 2016) (adverse possession and condemnation)
  13. Blake v. Stradford, 725 N.Y.S.2d 189 (Dist. Ct. 2001) (ejectment of domestic partner)
  14. Pocono Springs Civic Ass’n, Inc. v. MacKenzie, 667 A.2d 233 (Pa. Super. Ct.1995) (abandonment of real property)
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Perspectives on Touching

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Humans are tactile creatures.  It is one of the senses on which we depend for physical, emotional and spiritual health and safety.  It is a sense particularly important to communication, connection, growth and development.  Our body integrity and sense of autonomy is similarly precious.

Somehow, in navigating the transition of our society and community from one obsessed and represented by commitment to binary gender, including identity, expression and orientation, and from one that has plainly failed to correct and address the serious problem of sexual harassment, assault and rape,  it is important to recognize and appreciate the deep differences between attempted/completed sexual assaults and rapes usually in Western culture carried out/experienced primarily in private, and touchings that occur in public and that are not overtly sexual (do not involve groping of organs considered in American society to be sexual).  Thus, it is highly problematic to have a politician, someone who has chosen to devote herself to public political life, talk about another politician’s placing of hands on her shoulders from behind and kissing her on the back of her head, at a public event, as if it is the equivalent of an attempted or completed sexual assault or rape conducted in private, or as the equivalent of persistent and serious harassment from a person in power to a person who lacks that power (the classic sexual harassment problem faced in many employment situations).

We risk trivializing a conversation that has to remain relevant to the majority of the population, for the goal of gender equality to be realized in our community.  Lucy Flores is fortunate that Senator Biden’s placing of his hands on her shoulders from behind and kissing the back of her head in public is the thing that made her fear the earth had dropped under her feet.  She has yet to meet the real thing – none of us should be the object or subject of gender harassment or assault.  Lucy Flores’ experience however dismaying to her is not what I would consider any of those things.  I am very troubled by the fact that she is in the camp of another politician who did not hesitate to undermine, disrespect and taunt the leading candidate for the 2016 presidential election who was hands-and above the most experienced and qualified person running for president. 

Make no mistake – unwanted or unwelcome touchings of any sort are inappropriate in any culture.  But it’s complicated, right?  And it’s a matter of degree.   We have dozens of cultures (including latinx culture) that may render certain touchings acceptable within that culture.  Generational status, age, background, the touchings we grew up with in families, geography (whether you grew up in the south or north or west, etc.) all influence the degree of acceptability various people may have for certain touchings.  Again, breast grabbing, crotch grabbing, vagina grabbing, penis grabbing, backside grabbing, forced mouth kissing are not what I’m talking about – those are plainly and highly problematic.  But that’s not what happened here.  We shouldn’t lose sight of the difference.

-M. Isabel Medina

(these views are the author’s and are not the views of any institution with which she is affiliated)

Posted in Feminism and Politics, Sexual Harassment | Comments Off on Perspectives on Touching

Chapman Law Review: CFP “A Fifty Year Retrospective on Major Laws of the 91st Congress:

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From students at the Chapman Law Review:

Invitation to Submit Articles for Chapman Law Review’s
2020 Issue provisionally entitled “A 50-Year Retrospective on Major Laws of the 91st Congress”

Chapman Law Review is pleased to invite article submissions on the theme: “A 50-Year Retrospective on Major Laws of the 91st Congress.” Publications will appear in a symposium edition, and authors will receive an honorarium.

Were the 1970s a moment for environmental and health and safety regulation? In this symposium issue, the Chapman Law Review is soliciting papers taking a retrospective look at the legislation that was passed in 1970, a critical year with several key legislative outputs that changed the way the country governs myriad health, safety, and environmental concerns. This issue will focus on the progress of the statutory products that emerged from this period. The Chapman Law Review is looking for papers that are grounded in a retrospective analysis of particular statutes and how they evolved or formed the basis of other developments. Furthermore, comparative perspectives between statutes produced at this time, as well as articles that identify the significance of this time period and how this legislative moment was possible in light of the current legislative gridlock and landscape, are welcome.

In this issue, the Chapman Law Review is seeking to publish 7 to 9 articles that cover the following statutes or some combination thereof:

• National Environmental Policy Act, Pub.L. 91–190, 83 Stat. 852
• Organized Crime Control Act, Pub.L. 91–452, 84 Stat. 922
• Bank Secrecy Act, Pub.L. 91–508, 84 Stat. 1118
• Controlled Substances Act, Pub.L. 91–513, 84 Stat. 1242
• Plant Variety Protection Act, Pub.L. 91–577, 84 Stat. 1404
• Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), Pub.L. 91–596
• Housing and Urban Development Act of 1970, Pub.L. 91–609, 84 Stat. 1770

Chapman Law Review has dedicated its written symposium issue to this noteworthy topic. We are open to submissions with perspectives that focus on a single statute from this list, in addition to perspectives that take a look at the relationship with other statutes. Chapman Law Review would be honored to publish your work.

The Chapman Law Review will be offering an honorarium to authors who are accepted to write for this written symposium issue.
Submission Information:

We are looking for papers with an 8000-word count minimum—ideal submissions will contain between 15,000 to 20,000 words including footnotes. If you would like to apply to participate in the Symposium, please submit an abstract of at least 1000 and not to exceed 1500 words, along with a current curriculum vitae by June 1, 2019 to Caroline J. Cordova. Offers will be sent shortly thereafter. The deadline for the completed paper will be August 26, 2019.

Although there is not a live symposium attached to this themed issue, papers can resemble what one might submit for a symposium, and the issue will be identified as a themed issue so that you may also designate it as such, if you would like. Selected papers will be published in a special issue of the Chapman Law Review in approximately March 2020.

If you have questions, please contact Caroline J. Cordova, Senior Articles Editor, at

Posted in Call for Papers or Participation | Comments Off on Chapman Law Review: CFP “A Fifty Year Retrospective on Major Laws of the 91st Congress:

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UMKC School of Law Advocacy Teaching Fellow Advertisement

From colleagues at UMKC:

This Fellowship is supported by the gift creating the Douglass Stripp Chair in Advocacy, occupied by Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Law S. Rafe Foreman. Professor Foreman and Professor Michaelle Tobin work together as a team, teaching and coaching to build a highly successful program. US News and World Report ranks UMKC as the #21 Advocacy Program in the nation and we aspire to rise further in the rankings. In 2018, for the second year in a row, UMKC was one of only sixteen teams in the country to qualify for the National Board of Trial Advocacy’s Tournament of Champions competition.

UMKC School of Law offers an exciting opportunity to become part of a vibrant advocacy program as a Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow.  This Fellowship in Advocacy provides the opportunity to earn a Masters of Law Degree in Lawyering (LLM). Fellows will develop new skills in the art of advocacy, learn to teach advocacy, and learn how to train others in these skills as well as in substantive areas of law. Our Fellows play a vital role in continuing to build a premier national advocacy program as they significantly enhance their own advocacy skills.

Fellows will teach or co-teach trial advocacy classes and may teach Evidence and other substantive courses as needed, coach and directly supervise students in competitions, and actively participate in the Mastery of Advocacy course and other clinical opportunities. Duties will involve course planning, creation, development, preparation, and instruction. Fellows will be engaged, collegial, and cooperative members of the Advocacy and law school communities, bringing Advocacy insights and opportunities to other departments upon request or need. Fellows will also help coordinate internal and external trial and appellate competitions and externships in the community as well as foster excellent working relationships with the local bar and judiciary.  The National Voir Dire Advocacy Competition (Show-Me Challenge), created here at UMKC, is a vital part of the program and presents significant additional opportunities for the Teaching Fellow.

This full-time Fellowship is a contractual appointment for up to two years and includes tuition assistance toward fifteen hours of the LL.M. degree and opportunities for course work, research, writing, and scholarship during the Fellowship term.  

Requirements for the position include membership in good standing in the Bar of at least one state and the academic and professional credentials to be admitted to the LL.M. in Lawyering. Qualifications include: excellent speaking, leadership, organizational, and motivational skills; familiarity with law school advocacy teams, strong academic record and/or other indicia of high performance ability; a strong interest in teaching and an overall commitment to excellence and results as well as building reputation in the local and national communities.   Prior coaching experience is preferred.

Salary is $40,000-45,000/year, depending on qualifications. The position includes full benefits, including health insurance and CLE requirements. Advocacy teaching and coaching occurs in the fall and spring semesters, affording opportunity during the summer for planning and research.

UMKC School of Law is the urban law school of the University of Missouri System and is located on a beautiful landscaped campus in the Country Club Plaza area of Kansas City, Missouri, a vibrant metropolitan area of more than two million people. UMKC offers courses leading to J.D. or LL.M. degrees for approximately 400 students.   

UMKC is an equal access, equal opportunity, affirmative action employer that is fully committed to achieving a diverse faculty and staff. Equal Opportunity is and shall be provided for all employees and applicants for employment on the basis of their demonstrated ability and competence without unlawful discrimination on the basis of their race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, genetic information, disability, or protected veteran status. For more information, call the Vice Chancellor – Human Resources at 816-235-1621. To request ADA accommodations, please call the Office of Affirmative Action at 816-235-1323.  

Applicants must apply through the UMKC’s Human Resources website: Applicants must combine all application materials (cover letter, resume, and list of at least three references) into one PDF or Microsoft Word document and upload as a resume attachment. Limit document name to 50 characters. Maximum size limit is 11MB. Do not include special characters (e.g., /, &, %, etc.). Fellows will be required to submit official transcript of their J.D. degree or a certificate of good standing showing an active license to practice law prior to appointment. If you are experiencing technical problems, please call (855) 524-0002.    
Inquiries may be sent to:  
Professor Michaelle Tobin
UMKC School of Law
500 E. 52nd St.
Kansas City, MO 64110  
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Gender Discrimination (Just Less of It) Still Ok in Virginia as #TamponTax is Cut But Not Repealed

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Half measures, Virginia. Any tax on menstrual hygiene products is gender discrimination, Professor Emily Waldman and I argue in our article The Unconstitutional Tampon Tax. So cutting the tampon tax lessens the discrimination but fails to eliminate it.

From the (Virginia) Capital News Service, by Emily Holter:

The [Virginia] sales tax on tampons, diapers and other personal hygiene products will be reduced by more than half beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that he has signed SB 1715, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, and HB 2540, proposed by Del. Kathy Byron, R-Lynchburg. The bills will lower the retail sales and use tax rate on essential personal hygiene products to 2.5 percent. * * *

The new law will apply to feminine hygiene products and nondurable incontinence products including diapers and other materials.

We know that menstrual supplies and diapers are necessary to leave home for work, school, and social activities,” said Boysko, who called her bill the Dignity Act. “I am so glad we have made progress on the issue of menstrual equity and at long last will have tax relief for these products that women and families have to purchase.”

The law will make these products subject to the state’s reduced sales tax of 1.5 percent, which currently applies only to food. In addition, local governments add a 1 percent sales tax on such purchases.

Boysko had wanted to remove the so-called “tampon tax” entirely. Byron pushed for a compromise on grounds that a tax exemption for personal hygiene products would have a big effect on the state budget.

Why should a state balance its budget on the literal bodies of women and infants?

Relevant Twitter handles include @GovernorVA (for Virginia Governor Ralph Northam), @JenniferBoysko (for State Senator Jennifer Boysko) and @kathybyron (State Delegate State Senator Kathy Byron).

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CFP: Fordham Urban L.J. Issue on Gender Violence and the Law

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From colleagues at Fordham:

The Fordham Urban Law Journal is accepting articles for its Volume 47, October 2019 Issue.  The Journal publishes themed issues. The upcoming issue focuses on Gender Violence and the Law. Here’s the CFP:

The Fordham Urban Law Journal has a strong history of addressing legal and public policy issues affecting urban populations across the nation and throughout the world.  The Journal is second-oldest publication and the most-cited specialty journal at Fordham Law School.  Further, the Journal is the second-most cited public policy law journal edited by students in the country, and is one of the few journals publishing articles directly related to urban justice and policy.

This Fall 2019 Issue will focus on the varied aspects of gender violence and the law, such as the effectiveness of legislation in addressing this issue, the way that courts provide both a path to safety and a retraumatizing experience for survivors, and how legal strategies address gender motivated violence.  Some appropriate topics for this Issue include intimate-partner violence; orders of protection; domestic homicide; prostitution; rape; and sex trafficking of women and children.  This list is in no way exhaustive, and the Journal invites you to submit any article you believe deserves attention.

Articles can be submitted through online platforms, such as Scholastica or Express-O, or by email directly to  Should you have any other inquiries, questions or concerns, please reach out to Maura Tracy, Senior Articles Editor, at

Posted in Acts of Violence, Call for Papers or Participation | Comments Off on CFP: Fordham Urban L.J. Issue on Gender Violence and the Law

Updated Guide to Submitting Essays, Commentaries, Reviews to Online Law Review Companions

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I’ve expanded my guide to submitting to online companions to include 50 schools’ law reviews.  The new guide is here on SSRN.  The chart with contains details on the mechanics of submitting essays, commentaries, reviews to the online presence of journals at 50+ schools.

For now, the document contains information about word count limitations, subject matter preferences, submission details and other guidelines authors may find relevant when considering sending their work to law review presences online.

Details vary widely from journal to journal. Not all journals accept unsolicited contributions.

Corrections, additions, refinements to this chart are very welcome. (If for any reason the link doesn’t work because the submission hasn’t been reviewed yet by SSRN, you can navigate to it via my SSRN page here.

Posted in Academia, Feminist Legal Scholarship | Comments Off on Updated Guide to Submitting Essays, Commentaries, Reviews to Online Law Review Companions

CFP: ClassCrits XII Conference

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Call for Panel and Paper Proposals

ClassCrits XII: 

Facing Our Challenges: Rescuing Democracy, Ensuring Wellbeing & Exorcizing the Politics of Fear (Or: How To Be Free) 

Co-Sponsored by 

Western New England University School of Law 

and ClassCrits, Inc.

November 15 & 16, 2019

ClassCrits and Western New England University School of Law invite interested scholars, practitioners and advanced degree students to consider submitting a panel or a paper proposal for the upcoming ClassCrits XII Conference that will be held between Friday, November 15 and Saturday, November 16, 2019, at Western New England University School of Law in Springfield, Massachusetts, entitled Facing Our Challenges: Rescuing Democracy, Ensuring Wellbeing & Exorcizing the Politics of Fear (Or: How To Be Free).

This year, ClassCrits seeks the mantle of the FREE. To be free requires that we actively face the challenges that all humanity now jointly confronts. These include the accelerating environmental degradation of the Earth’s natural systems, the dramatic rise in economic inequality, the failure of our institutions, the breakdown of our communities, and the alienation from our selves (body, mind and spirit) and one another. However, these challenges cannot be met unless we rescue or even reinvent our democracy, ensure the wellbeing of all as the appropriate measure of justice, and exorcize the politics of fear.  In this vein, ClassCrits seeks ideas, work, activities and practices that: (1) analyze and propose concrete solutions to the existential threats to humanity and planet Earth; (2) demand expansive democracy and justice; (3) embrace and seek to ensure the economic wellbeing of all across our differences; and (4) inspire courage and solidarity.

For more information about ClassCrits XII and the submission of proposals, please contact

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Are “CupAware” Events the New Tupperware Parties? Women’s Bodies as a Source of Corporate Profit

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I read with interest ‘We’re Having a Menstrual Liberation’: How Periods Got Woke, published in The Guardian (U.K.). It’s a clunky and awkward title that obscures the contents of the article.  

I am sitting in a hotel meeting room with 12 women, all of us squeezing menstrual cups against our cheeks. The blinds are down, the wine has been flowing for the past hour, and after a few people have taken selfies… Mandu Reid, an expert in “cupography”…goes on to demonstrate some of the best positions for inserting a cup – sitting on the edge of a toilet seat “manspreading”, standing with one leg up on the toilet seat (her own favourite), or lying down with your legs in the air, a pose she holds while we take pictures for social media. “The most important thing is for you to be relaxed. Put on some jazz, light some candles,” she jokes.

This is a CupAware party, designed to get women together to talk about menstrual cups. It couldn’t be more different from the last bit of menstrual education I received, when I was 12 and the “Tampax lady” came into my school in her navy blazer and gave out freebies. * * * 

Reid is part of a new wave of period activists, determined to challenge the status quo of our flows. Despite being part of the lives of half the global population, there has been little innovation or big thinking around periods in 80 years – since the tampon was invented. Recently, however, there has been a flurry of activity, from campaigns to petitions, product launches to new advertising imagery.

You can read the full article here.

Are “Cup Aware” parties the Tupperware parties of the 21st century? I’m all for menstral health, sustainable menstrual hygiene products, and ending period taboos. But I can’t help but notice that messages about embracing one’s body all seem to … be associated with selling a product. I call this mix of feminist messaging and period positivity #menstrualcapitalism. It’s not inherently bad–just something to notice.

And I’m not a fan of the article’s title because the word “woke,” with its origins in African-American activism, is being used by mainstream media for all sorts of purposes without any recognition of the history behind the word. 
Posted in Feminism and Culture, Sexism in the Media, Women and Economics, Women's Health | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Are “CupAware” Events the New Tupperware Parties? Women’s Bodies as a Source of Corporate Profit

Formal Equality on (Literal) Paper: Why Does the Man’s Name Go First on German Tax Returns?

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The German publication Zeit Online recently published an article (here) critiquing a variety of gender disparities in German law. One that caught my eye was this discussion of the literal design of German tax forms:

Frauen werden in Familienbüchern und Heiratsurkunden an zweiter Stelle genannt. Genauso in der Einkommensteuererklärung – selbst wenn die Frau Hauptverdienerin ist. Das sorgte kürzlich für Aufsehen: Eine Hamburgerin trug sich als erste steuerpflichtige Person in der Kategorie «Ehemann» ein – und ihren Mann als zweites. Im Finanzamt mussten die Daten händisch umtragen werden – was den Steuerbescheid für die Familie verzögerte. Der Mann forderte viel kommentiert im Internet modernere Formulare. Das für die Software zuständige Landesamt für Steuern in Bayern betonte, die bundesweit vorgegebene Reihenfolge sei Zufall und keine Wertung.

My German isn’t great, but loosely translated (with some help from the Google machine) here’s what I can make out:

Women are named second in family books and on marriage certificates. Likewise in the income tax return – even if the woman is the main earner. This recently caused a stir: a woman from Hamburg recently listed herself on the tax return first, in the category “husband.” Her husband was listed second, in the category “wife.” The tax office was required to process the form manually, delaying the family’s tax assessment. This filing was consistent with a demand, the subject of much cyber-commentary, for more modern tax forms. The State Tax Office in Bavaria, which is responsible for the tax filing software, emphasized that the sequence of spousal names was a coincidence and not a value judgment or hierarchy.

Seems to me it would be pretty easy to have the prompt read “Spouse 1” and “Spouse 2.” I actually think that forms of communication and information transmission, including legal forms, matter. If a same-sex couple has children who need school permission slips signed, it’s quite different if the school request’s a “parent’s” signature, versus requiring a signature and then asking the signatory to check off “mother” or “father” to indicate the relation with the student.

Similarly, it matters if forms like tax forms only ask for married couples’ names by prompting response for “name of husband” and “name of wife,” in any order. Let the couple decide who wants to be listed first. It’t not that difficult to make the design change, and signals broader inclusivity.

Posted in Feminism and Law, Sisters In Other Nations, Women and Economics | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Formal Equality on (Literal) Paper: Why Does the Man’s Name Go First on German Tax Returns?

NPR’s @PlanetMoney Podcast on the #TamponTax

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On March 6, 2019, NPR’s Planet Money had a show Tampons: That Bloody Sales Tax that included an interview with attorney Zoe Salzman, talking about her work that contributed to New York’s repeal of the sales tax on menstrual hygiene products. Currently, 35 states retain some form of the tampon tax, although many states are expected to consider repeal legislation in the near future.

Professor Emily Gold Waldman and I have argued in The Unconstitutional Tampon Tax, 53 U. Richmond L. Rev. 339 (2019), that the sales tax on menstrual hygiene products violates the Equal Protection Clause. Professor Carla Spivack and I have explained in Tampon Taxes, Discrimination and Human Rights, 2017 Wisc. L. Rev. 491, how the value added tax and sales tax on menstrual hygiene products also implicate a variety of human rights, and might be ripe for challenge in an international tribunal.

The NPR podcast also featured comments from Nicole Kaeding of the Tax Foundation. She represented a voice in favor of retention of the tampon tax and widening the tax base generally.

You know, in my view, a state would be much better off to have a broad sales tax that applies to, you know, all final consumption. You avoid these sorts of, you know, picking between different product classes. It would make for a much more efficient sales tax.

Tax scholar Miranda Stewart (Melbourne) has made similar arguments (here). I don’t disagree that it would be reasonable (and non-discriminatory) to remove all sales tax exemptions, but I also think that such a change is politically both unfeasible–no one will want to give up tax exemptions on medicine, for example–and undesirable, because it is regressive.

But glad to see more press coverage of the issue in any event.

Posted in Activism, Women and Economics, Women's Health | Comments Off on NPR’s @PlanetMoney Podcast on the #TamponTax

Guide to Submitting Shorter Work to Online Law Review Companions

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If you are doing any shorter writing — essays, responses, commentaries — you may be interested in this short guide I developed for submitting work to the online presences of 20 main journals. Some of the online companions are more active than others; some publish only responses to work published in their print edition; some publish only invited pieces; many publish a range of work (but not a huge range of words).

Posted in Feminist Legal Scholarship, Law Schools | Comments Off on Guide to Submitting Shorter Work to Online Law Review Companions

Caterine on Gender & Bankruptcy

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Emma Caterine, a 2018 graduate of CUNY Law School, has posted to SSRN her article A Fresh Start for a Women’s Economy: Beyond Punitive Consumer Bankruptcy, 33 Berkeley J. of Gender, Law & Justice (2018). Here is the abstract:

This article explores the gendering of modern consumerism through the lens of Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The changes made by the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) expose that the punitive nature of bankruptcy falls disproportionately on the same women who keep capitalism in motion with their purchases – the danger of this contradiction could cause a downturn for the entire economy.

Despite Elizabeth Warren breaking the glass ceiling of analyzing economic law through the lens of gender, economic legal theory remains dominated by those who neglect or even disdain feminist critical theory being applied to subjects like bankruptcy. By combining cultural analysis, legal theory, and macroeconomics, this article maintains the rigor of empiricism while centering the law in the consequences it has on marginalized communities. Now that it has been more than a decade since the passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) and will soon be a decade since the start of the Great Recession, there is enough data to begin to empirically parse out the effects of BAPCPA. This article is a humble beginning to this endeavor, tracing where BAPCPA has taken the country and what changes need to be made to redirect the country onto a path towards an economy by and for women.

The full paper is available here.

Posted in Feminism and Economics, Feminism and Families, Feminist Legal Scholarship | Comments Off on Caterine on Gender & Bankruptcy

State Legislature Watch: #Tampon Tax Repeal Bills Live in 13 States

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In upcoming legislative sessions, state legislatures in these 13 states are poised to consider bills to repeal the sales tax on menstrual hygiene products:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Nebraska
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

States that already have no sales tax (at all) are:

  • Alaska
  • New Hampshire
  • Oregon
  • Delaware
  • Montana

States that have a general sales tax, but provide an exemption for products from are:

  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York

The District of Columbia also exempts menstrual hygiene products from sales tax.

If eleven of the states considering repeal do, in fact, pass the legislation, sales tax exemption for menstrual hygiene products will be the majority position in the states.

I’ll be watching these state bills carefully.

Posted in Women and Economics, Women's Health | Comments Off on State Legislature Watch: #Tampon Tax Repeal Bills Live in 13 States

Rethinking the Online Petition: Not “Slactivism”

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From (here):

Online petitions are often seen as a form of “slacktivism” – small acts that don’t require much commitment and are more about helping us feel good than effective activism. But the impacts of online petitions can stretch beyond immediate results. * * * 

The simplest way to gauge if a petition has been successful is to look at whether the requests made were granted. The front page of displays recent “victories”. These including a call to axe the so-called “tampon tax” (the GST on menstrual products) which states and territories agreed to remove come January 2019. also boasts the petition for gender equality on cereal boxes as a victory, after Kelloggs sent a statement they would be updating their packaging in 2019 to include images of males and females. This petition only had 600 signatures, in comparison to the 75,000 against the tampon tax. * * * 

Knowing a few characteristics of successful petitions can be useful when you’re deciding whether it’s worth your time to sign and share something. Firstly, there should be a target and specific call for action.

These can take many forms: petitions might request a politician vote “yes” on a specific law, demand changes to working conditions at a company, or even ask an advocacy organisation to begin campaigning around a new issue. Vague targets and unclear goals aren’t well suited to petitions. Calls for “more gender equality in society” or “better rights for pets”, for example, are unlikely to achieve success. 

Secondly, the goal needs to be realistic. This is so it’s possible to succeed and so supporters feel a sense of optimism. Petitioning for a significant change in a foreign government’s policy – for example, a call from world citizens for better gun control in the US – is unlikely to lead to results. * * * 

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, a petition’s chance of success depends largely on the strength of community supporting it. Petitions rarely work on their own. In her book Twitter and Teargas, Turkish writer Zeynep Tufekci argues the internet allows us to organise action far more quickly than in the past, outpacing the hard but essential work of community organising.

We can get thousands of people signing a petition and shouting in the streets well before we build coalitions and think about long-term strategies. But the most effective petitions will work in combination with other forms of activism.

The full piece is here.

Lots of food for thought in this piece, but a few questions/thoughts come to mind:

What does it tell us about online petitions that the tampon tax repeal petitions are cited as the most “successful”?  Does it tell us something about the substance of the petition (that people are really, really fired up about the tax? That tax is a lens that makes gender inequality salient, and when people learn about it, they are willing to sign their names indicating opposition?  

Does the success (or failure) of online petitions reflect “what it takes” for women or other historically disadvantaged groups to be heard?  If so, what does that say about the health of the particular legal, social and political contexts in which the petition launches?

What are the demographics of the people behind successful online petitions?  Certainly, some of the them are grass-roots.  Others have corporate co-sponsors.  The popular US-based Stop Taxing Our Periods. Period. campaign, the brainchild of the brilliant and creative Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, was co-sponsored by Cosmopolitan Magazine. Nothing wrong with that; lots of good with that.  But what role did Cosmo‘s participation have in the petition’s success? What are the chances of petitions’ success without a successful partnership with a mainstream publication, group or other outlet? 

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Activism | Comments Off on Rethinking the Online Petition: Not “Slactivism”

Kathy Stanchi (@kstanchi) from Temple Law to @UNLVLaw

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Kathryn M. Stanchi

Fab feminist Kathryn M. Stanchi, currently the Jack E. Feinberg ’57 Professor of Litigation and an Affiliated Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Temple University Beasley School of Law, will be joining the faculty of the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law, beginning with the 2019-2020 academic year. At UNLV, she will be the E.L. Cord Foundation Professor of Law.

Many of you may know Kathy as the principal convener of the U.S. Feminist Judgments Project, her work with various sections of the AALS, including the Section on Women in Legal Education, and her feminist scholarship around rhetoric and advocacy.  Kathy’s addition to the faculty is fantastic for UNLV, a school that already has a strong faculty and a super roster of feminist colleagues including Rachel Anderson, Linda Berger, Frank Rudy Cooper, Leslie Griffin, Kay Kindred, Sylvia Lazos, Francine Lipman, Elizabeth MacDowell, Ann McGinley, and Nancy Rapoport.

Congratulations, Kathy!

Posted in Chutes and Ladders | Comments Off on Kathy Stanchi (@kstanchi) from Temple Law to @UNLVLaw