Save the Date: SNX-LatCrit on Theory, Culture and Law, May 19-21, 2016

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From the FLP mailbox:

The South-North Exchange on Theory, Culture and Law (SNX) – LatCrit would like you to SAVE THE DATE for its 2016 Conference: Leading From The South: Politics Of Gender, Sex And Sexualities to be celebrated in Santo Domingo, República Dominicana from May 19-21, 2016.

We seek to discuss how the global South has been leading current shifts in the politics of gender, sex and sexualities. We will examine, among other topics, South-North relations or North-South polarities regarding: marriage, families, adoption, labor, child rearing, children’s rights, reproductive rights, poverty, migration, sex and gender discrimination, transsexual communities and sexual identities.

The South-North Exchange on Theory, Culture and Law (SNX) celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013 and is designed to bring together critical theorists from various disciplines and regions of the hemisphere (and beyond) to discuss problems in the application of theory to current social problems and policy issues.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at:

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Joshi, “The Respectable Dignity of Obergefell v. Hodges”

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Yuvraj Joshi, the Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Global Justice at Yale Law School, has posted to SSRN his essay, The Respectable Dignity of Obergefell v. Hodges, forthcoming in the California Law Review’s Circuit (online publication).  Here is an abstract:

In declaring state laws that restrict same-sex marriage unconstitutional, Justice Kennedy invoked “dignity” nine times – to no one’s surprise. References in Obergefell to “dignity” are in important respects the culmination of Justice Kennedy’s elevation of the concept, dating back to the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The “dignity” of Casey expressed respect for a woman’s freedom to make choices about her pregnancy. Casey laid the foundation for Lawrence v. Texas, which similarly respected the freedom of choice of homosexual persons. Yet, as Lawrence paved the path for US v. Windsor and later Obergefell, the narrative began to change. Tracing the usage of dignity in these cases reveals that the “dignity” of Obergefell is not the “dignity” of Casey.

This Essay demonstrates how Obergefell shifts dignity’s focus from respect for the freedom to choose towards the respectability of choices and choice-makers. Obergefell’s dignity is respectable in three ways. It depends on same-sex couples (1) choosing the heterosexual norm of marriage; (2) being and showing themselves to be worthy of marriage; and (3) being socially acceptable and accepted. As importantly, I show that Obergefell’s reasoning inflicts its own dignitary harms. It affirms the dignity of married relationships, while dismissing the dignitary and material harms suffered by unmarried families. It demands that same-sex couples demonstrate the same love and commitment that are taken for granted for heterosexual couples. And, it implies that legal protection of dignity depends on the prior social acceptance of gay persons and relationships. Put together, Obergefell disregards the idea that different forms of loving and commitment might be entitled to equal dignity and respect.

A draft of the essay is available here.

You can follow Mr. Joshi on Twitter @yuvrajjoshi

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Merle Weiner’s New Book: “A Parent-Partner Status for American Family Law”

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Cambridge University Press has published a new book by Merle Weiner (Oregon), A Parent-Partner Status for American Family Law (2015).  Here is the description:

Despite the fact that becoming a parent is a pivotal event, the birth or adoption of a child has little significance for parents’ legal relationship to each other. Instead, the law relies upon marriage, domestic partnerships, and contracts to set the parameters of parents’ legal relationship. With over forty percent of American children born to unwed mothers and consistently high rates of divorce, this book argues that the law’s current approach to regulating parental relationships is outdated. A new legal and social structure is needed to guide parents so they act as supportive partners and to deter uncommitted couples from having children. This book is the first of its kind to propose a new ‘parent-partner’ status within family law. Included are a detailed discussion of the benefits of the status as well as specific recommendations for legal obligations.

The publisher’s website is here.

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CFP: Joint Scholars and Scholarship Workshop on Feminist Jurisprudence

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Joint Scholars & Scholarship Workshop on Feminist Jurisprudence

January 6, 2016

Fordham Law School

Sponsored by the Legal Writing Institute (LWI), the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD), and the Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research Section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).

LWI, ALWD, and the AALS Legal Writing Section are excited to collaborate with Fordham Law School in celebration of feminist scholars and scholars of feminist jurisprudence by offering a half-day workshop.   The Scholars & Scholarship Workshop will take place at Fordham Law School on January 6, 2016, the day prior to the beginning of the 2016 AALS Annual Meeting in New York City.

The Workshop is focused on scholarly writing and teaching in the field of feminist jurisprudence. Our goal is to encourage and support the work of scholars, including jurists and practitioners, as they challenge patriarchy and other hierarchical structures, critique existing jurisprudence from multicultural feminist perspectives, and share strategies and techniques for bringing a feminist perspective into the classroom.  It extends the conversation of the more than 50 scholars involved in the creation of the edited volume, Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court (Kathryn  Stanchi, Linda Berger & Bridget Crawford eds., Cambridge University Press 2016).  We hope to more broadly support the work of feminist scholars in the academy, regardless of their subject area of study.

If you are interested in presenting a draft paper to receive feedback from an audience of informed scholars in a safe and supportive environment, please submit an abstract to the Scholars & Scholarship Workshop by October 5, 2015.  Abstracts should be no longer than 500 words in length and should be emailed to Professors Nantiya Ruan at and Shailini Jandial George at  Those submitting abstracts will be informed of whether they were chosen to participate by October 31, 2015, and drafts will be sent to readers in mid-December.

If you are interested in attending the workshop, you can register here:


Posted in Call for Papers or Participation, Upcoming Conferences | 1 Comment

Areheart on “Accommodating Pregnancy”

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Bradley Areheart (Tennessee) has posted to SSRN his forthcoming article, Accommodating Pregnancy, __ Alabama Law Review __ (2016).  Here is the abstract:

Courts have interpreted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) not to affirmatively require accommodations for pregnant workers. This has generated protest and led all three branches of the federal government to address the issue of pregnancy rights. The “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act” is pending in Congress and has drawn strong vocal support from President Barack Obama. The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided Young v. UPS, which found the PDA does not affirmatively require pregnancy accommodations. Finally, many commentators have argued in support of considering pregnancy a disability under the ADA.

This Article agrees substantively with the end of accommodating pregnancy, but disagrees with the various proposals commentators have advanced. In contrast to those who favor a pregnancy-specific right to accommodations, this Article argues that such proposals create risks to women’s long-term equality in the workplace. In particular, characterizing pregnancy as a “disability” or pregnant women as a class in special need of accommodation poses a danger of expressive harms. Currently proposed measures may revitalize exclusionary and paternalistic attitudes toward pregnant employees, signal incapacity to work, or actually increase sex discrimination. We should thus consider the potential expressive impact of pregnancy accommodation schemes in light of current social norms in which pregnant women are generally seen as capable of productive work. This Article concludes by suggesting alternative approaches to securing pregnancy accommodations that would avoid expressive harms and employ a gender symmetrical approach.

This Article’s critique and the question of how best to accommodate pregnancy resonate across several areas of the law. For those who study civil rights, Accommodating Pregnancy illustrates the expressive perils of rights claiming. For historians and scholars interested in gender issues, this Article provides a chance to reconsider the consequences of gender-asymmetrical laws. For family law scholars, Accommodating Pregnancy highlights the current capacity of the law to reshape work/family balance. To assume that implementing gender-asymmetrical rights is the best way to help women in the workplace overlooks the potential of the law to ameliorate broader social issues. These include the way in which employment is typically structured to accommodate the most privileged employees and how everyone would benefit from more accommodating workplaces.

The full article is available for download here.


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CFP: Applied Feminism Today

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From colleagues at the University of Baltimore:

The University of Baltimore School of Law’s Center on Applied Feminism seeks submissions for its Ninth Annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference. This year’s theme is “Applied Feminism Today.” The conference will be held on Friday, March 4, 2016. For more information about the conference, please visit

This conference seeks to explore the current status of feminist legal theory. What impact has feminist legal theory had on law and social policy? What legal challenges are best suited to a feminist legal theory approach? How has feminist legal theory changed over time and where might it go in the future? We welcome proposals that consider these questions from a variety of substantive disciplines and perspectives. As always, the Center’s conference will serve as a forum for scholars, practitioners and activists to share ideas about applied feminism, focusing on the intersection of theory and practice to effectuate social change.

The conference will be open to the public and will feature a keynote speaker. Past keynote speakers have included Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Dr. Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Senators Barbara Mikulski and Amy Klobuchar, NOW President Terry O’Neill, and EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum.

To submit a paper proposal, please submit an abstract by Friday October 30, 2015 to Your abstract must contain your full contact information and professional affiliation, as well as an email, phone number, and mailing address. In the “Re” line, please state: CAF Conference 2016. Abstracts should be no longer than one page. We will notify presenters of selected papers in November. We anticipate there will be eight paper presenters during the conference. 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. Thus, please indicate at the bottom of your abstract whether you are submitting (1) solely to present or (2) to present and publish in the symposium volume. Authors who are interested in publishing in the Law Review will be strongly considered for publication. For all presenters, working drafts of papers will be due no later than February 26, 2016. 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. Michele Gilman at

Posted in Call for Papers or Participation | Comments Off on CFP: Applied Feminism Today

Group Culture and Sexual Harassment In the Workplace

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Marie McGregor, University of South Africa, has published Justifying Sexual Harassment Based on Culture? Never, Never, Never at 78 Journal of Contemporary Roman-Dutch Law 121 (2015). Here is the abstract.

This note focuses on UASA obo Zulu and Transnet Pipelines 2008 ILJ 1803 (ARB), an older award which had attracted few comments. Maybe the case has said it all. Or has it? It dealt with sexual harassment in the workplace, a common phenomenon in South Africa. The applicant (of Zulu culture) persistently sexually harassed a female colleague and when disciplined merely stated that his conduct was part of his Zulu culture.

Download the note from SSRN at the link.

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A New Blog Devoted To the History of Women Lawyers

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Bari Burke, University of Montana School of Law, has launched a new blog, Montana’s Early Women Lawyers: Trail-Blazing, Big Sky Sisters-In-Law.  Each post focuses on an interesting (and unknown) story about a female lawyer from the past, which Professor Burke has unearthed from cases, newspapers, and other publications. Fascinating to see the number of mentions (and the depressing sameness of observations about women attorneys).  From the August 12th, 2015 post, this excerpt from a letter published August 12, 1907:

‘Possibly men are afraid to pay court to a woman lawyer, from the knowledge that she has too many brains for him, and can see further into his subterfuges and little evasions than most women could. It may be that the legal atmosphere is chilling to affection. It may be that women lawyers are too smart to tie themselves down. I do not know. I only cite the facts.

One of the happiest households that I know, is composed of two lawyers, one the husband, and the other the wife. But he was a lawyer and she was not when they got married. She studied under him, and is his legal assistant rather than his partner. Perhaps that is why they get along so happily together.’”

Oh, dear.

[Cross-posted to the Law and Humanities Blog]



Posted in Academia, Employment Discrimination, Feminist Blogs Of Interest, Feminist Legal History, Feminist Legal Scholarship, Feminists in Academia, Law Teaching, Legal Profession | Comments Off on A New Blog Devoted To the History of Women Lawyers

A Legislative History of Illegitimacy In British Columbia

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Susan B. Boyd, University of British Columbia Faculty of Law, and Jennifer Flood, Thorsteinssons LLP, have published Illegitimacy in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Nova Scotia: A Legislative History. Here is the abstract.

Over time, provincial legislation in Canada modified the common law position on the “illegitimacy” of children born outside marriage. They first imposed liability on parents for the support of illegitimate children. Second, they provided for the legitimation of children whose parents subsequently married. Finally, they abolished the concept of illegitimacy. This article describes and compares the legislative histories in four Canadian provinces, which all took somewhat different approaches: British Columbia (BC), Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. Part II traces the complex history of the legislation dealing with the financial support of illegitimate children; Part III addresses the legislation dealing with legitimation; and Part IV reviews the short history of the abolition of distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate children in all Canadian provinces and territories, except for Nova Scotia. We take a chronological approach within each Part. The article is co-authored with Jennifer Flood.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Posted in Feminism and Families, Feminism and Law, Feminist Legal History, If you're a woman | Comments Off on A Legislative History of Illegitimacy In British Columbia

Alabama Same-Sex Marriage Rulings, 2015

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Howard M. Wasserman, Florida International University College of Law, has published Crazy in Alabama: Judicial Process and the Last Stand Against Marriage Equality in the Land of George Wallace at 110 Northwestern University Law Review Online 201 (2015). Here is the abstract.

This essay examines the ongoing litigation battle in Alabama over the constitutionality of its ban on same-sex marriage, where one district judge invalidated the state ban and subsequent confusion over the meaning and scope of that injunction has drawn unfortunate and erroneous comparisons to George Wallace and Massive Resistance to integration. In fact, this essay argues, the controversy in Alabama is about judicial procedure and the scope of injunctive relief in constitutional litigation; it reveals how judicial decision making and judicial remedies actually function in a geographically divided and hierarchical federal judiciary. Rhetoric aside, the judicial process in Alabama has functioned largely as it should.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

Posted in LGBT Rights, Sex and Sexuality | Comments Off on Alabama Same-Sex Marriage Rulings, 2015

CFP: Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network LSA Meeting 2016

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From Jessica Clarke (Minnesota), Jill Hasday (Minnesota), Jessica Knouse (Toledo), Elizabeth Kukura (Temple), Seema Mohapatra (Barry), and Marc Spindelman (Ohio State):

We write to invite you to participate in panels sponsored by the Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network at the Law and Society Annual Meeting in 2016.

Information about the Law and Society meeting (including registration and hotel information) is here.

Within Law & Society, the Feminist Legal Theory CRN seeks to bring together scholars across a range of fields who are interested in feminist legal theory. There is no pre-set theme to which papers must conform. We would be especially happy to see proposals that fit in with the LSA conference theme, which is the role of law and legal institutions in sustaining, creating, interrogating, and ameliorating inequalities. We welcome proposals that would permit us to collaborate with other CRNs, such as the Critical Research on Race and the Law CRN or the Gender, Sexuality and the Law CRN. Also, because the LSA meeting attracts scholars from other disciplines, we welcome multidisciplinary proposals.

Our goal is to stimulate focused discussion of papers on which scholars are currently working. Thus, while proposals may reference work that is well on the way to publication, we are particularly eager to solicit proposals for works-in-progress that are at an earlier stage and will benefit from the discussion that the panels will provide.

A committee of the CRN will assign individual papers to panels based on subject. Our panels will use the LSA format, which requires four papers, but we will continue our custom of assigning a chair for the panel and a commentator for each individual paper. As a condition of participating as a panelist, you must also agree to serve as a chair or commentator for another panel or participant. We will of course take into account your scheduling and topic preferences to the degree possible.

The duties of a chair are to organize the panel logistically, including registering it online with the LSA, and moderating the panel. The chair will develop a 100-250 word description for the session and submit the session proposal to LSA before their upcoming deadline on October 15, so that each panelist can submit his or her proposal, using the panel number assigned. Chairs will also be responsible for assigning commentators but may wait to do so until panels have been scheduled later this winter. The duties of a commentator are to read one paper and provide verbal comments as well as brief written (email is fine) comments.

If you would like to present a paper as part of a CRN panel, please email an abstract or summary, along with your name and a title, to Jessica Clarke at There is no need to upload the document to the TWEN site this year. Note that LSA is imposing a new requirement that your summary be at least 1,000 words long.  Although a shorter summary will suffice for our purposes, you will be required to upload a 1,000 word summary in advance of LSA’s deadline on October 15. If you are already planning a LSA session with at least four panelists (and papers) that you would like to see included in the Feminist Legal Theory CRN, please let Jessica know.

In addition to these panels, we may try to use some of the other formats that the LSA provides: the “author meets readers” format, salon, or the roundtable discussion. If you have an idea that you think would work well in one of these formats, please let us know. Please note that for roundtables, organizers are now required to provide a 500 word summary of the topic and the contributions they expect the proposed participants to make. Please also note that LSA rules limit you to participating only once as a paper panelist or roundtable participant.

Please submit all proposals by Friday, September 18. This will permit us to organize panels and submit them prior to the LSA’s deadline on October 15. In the past, we have attempted to accommodate as many panelists as possible, but have been unable to accept all proposals. If we are unable to accept your proposal for the CRN, we will notify you by early October so that you can submit an independent proposal to LSA.

We hope you’ll join us in New Orleans to discuss the scholarship in which we are all engaged and connect with others doing work on feminism and gender.


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Converge! conference follow up projects

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Announcing the Completion of Two Converge! conference projects!

Donna Coker

The UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI RACE & SOCIAL JUSTICE LAW REVIEW published Converge! Reimagining the Movement to End Gender Violence symposium.  The  publication includes 11 articles, 18 edited panel transcripts, and the transcript of Beth Richie’s keynote. You may download the entire volume or jump to the articles you find of interest.   The publication is available at

Media for Change Hosts Reimagining Multi-media Project– The Reimagining website is a collaboration with Media for Change (MfC), a non-profit organization committed to connecting “media change makers who use the power of visual storytelling to build a better world.” The website offers the comments of thoughtful activists and scholars about how to refocus our work to stop gender violence. The interviewees are Mimi Kim, Leigh Goodmark, Donna Coker, Dorothy Roberts, and Joan Pennell. (We expect to add more interviews and other content in the near future.) Thank you to Sanjeev Chatterjee, MfC Founder and Director, and to Ahjané Macquoid, U.M. Ph.D. student, for their work to make this project a reality. Thank you to the interviewees for their inspiring work and generosity.

Reimagining website-

What is Converge? In February, 2014, more than 200 activists, scholars, and students gathered in Miami to share their strategies for refocusing the movement to end gender violence. Converge! Reimagining the Movement to End Gender Violence focused on changing U.S. priorities in funding, activism, legal responses, and social services in ways that better address the intersecting inequalities that create and maintain gender violence. The call was to move away from investing heavily in criminal systems responses and to focus instead on changing the social conditions that create violence. The call was to recognize the commonality of struggles for racial justice, economic justice, immigration justice, and sexual identity and sexual orientation justice. For more information about the strategy of Converge! see For information about the conference see

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Hasday Op-Ed on Marital Rape

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Jill Hasday (Minnesota) published an op-ed in today’s Washington Post:
Donald Trump’s lawyer Was Right: In Some Places, Raping Your Wife is Still Treated Like a Minor Offense. Here is an excerpt.

All states prosecute some forms of marital rape in theory. But in reality, statutes criminalizing marital rape are often inadequate. They also remain dramatically and disproportionately under-enforced.

This injustice has deep historical roots. For centuries, husbands were absolutely exempt from criminal prosecution for raping their wives. In the eyes of the law, marital rape was a legal impossibility.

That is no longer true. Starting in the 1970s and 1980s, every state eliminated husbands’ absolute immunity from prosecution. Most states accomplished this reform through legislation. A few achieved it through judicial opinions. * * *  Yet modified forms of the marital rape exemption survive in at least 23 states. Legislatures in these states continue to treat rape in marriage more leniently than rape outside of it. Some  criminalize a narrower range of conduct if committed within marriage, others impose less serious penalties on the marital rape they do recognize or create special procedural obstacles to marital rape prosecutions.

The full piece is available here.

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Feminist Legal Studies Seminar, June 2016

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From the introduction to the most recent issue of Feminist Legal Studies, here:

FLS will host an international and interdisciplinary seminar in London, UK, on 30 June and 1 July 2016 to consider the relationship between feminism, legality and knowledge. We hope that the journal, alongside related projects and publications, will go on to address some of the insights that emerge from that seminar.

We’ll pass on info if/as/when we receive it.

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CFP: “New Directions in Poverty Law”

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AALS Section on Poverty Law

Call for Papers for 2016 AALS Annual Meeting

The AALS Section on Poverty Law is seeking abstracts or drafts of papers to be presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting in New York, NY.  This year’s program is entitled “New Directions in Poverty Law,” and it will be held on Friday, January 8, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Program Description:  This program will focus on emerging ideas, problems, arguments, and strategies related to poverty law.  The field of poverty law encompasses a wide range of legal issues that affect the lives of Americans living in poverty.  Much interesting work in this area is being done by academics who may not identify themselves as poverty law scholars, but who are nonetheless writing about issues that inform and intersect with the core concerns of poverty law.  This program will provide a forum for discussing some of this scholarship, and for considering the current state of poverty law as a field.  Panelists—including one chosen through a call for papers—will present recent works on a variety of topics that relate to poverty law.  An open discussion will follow.

Submission Instructions:  Eligible law faculty wishing to be considered for the program must submit an abstract or draft paper by September 1, 2015, to Jason Parkin, Chair-Elect of the Section on Poverty Law, at  The Section encourages submissions from pre-tenured and recently tenured scholars, as well as scholars whose work may not be widely known to members of the Poverty Section.  All panelists, including speakers selected from this call for papers, are responsible for paying their own Annual Meeting registration fee and travel expenses.

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“Short Takes” by Signs

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The feminist journal Signs has added an on-line feature called Short Takes.  Here’s the description:

Short Takes: Provocations on Public Feminism is a new open-access, online-first feature of Signs that examines books that have shaped popular conversations about feminist issues. This new section will examine a book that has had wide-ranging impact and reach (for better or worse!) and solicit short commentaries from leading feminist public intellectuals and activists. Rather than traditional book reviews, commentators are asked to ponder broader questions of reach and resonance: Why this? Why now? And what does this say about the state of the feminist zeitgeist?

The first “Short Take” is a series of essays on Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist.  The essays are:

The online collection is here.


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NY Gay Couple Not Married Couldn’t Have Been Divorced…Duh

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A very strange case got some attention in the New York Law Journal this week.  New York County Surrogate Nora S. Anderson has (sensibly) ruled in the Matter of Leyton, 2013-4842/A/B, NYLJ 1202730202742, at *1 (Surr., NY, Decided June 16, 2015) [hyperlink is to a subscription site-sorry] that the New York statute (EPTL 1.4) providing for the automatic revocation upon divorce of bequests and fiduciary appointments in favor of a former spouse could not apply to a same-sex couple who has never married in the first place.

Reading between the lines of the decision, it appears that the decedent’s mother and sister were upset that the decedent appointed as executor and made substantial death-time gifts to his former romantic partner.  The mother and sister tried to argue that because the couple had a commitment ceremony in 2002, but later broke up, the couple was “divorced” for purposes of New York law.  Surrogate Anderson did not agree, and the bequests to the former partner and fiduciary appointment were upheld.


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Report on AALS Midyear Meeting Workshop on “Next Generation Issues of Sex, Gender, and the Law”

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The AALS’s 2015 Midyear Meeting Workshop on “Next Generation Issues of Sex, Gender, and the Law” concluded Friday in Orlando.  It was one of the best substantive programs I have attended in many years.  The quality of the speakers was excellent.  The speakers represented a full range of seniorities, schools, geographies and subject-matter specialties.

As a point of information, there were 80 people pre-registered for this conference.  (Compare that to 172 people who were pre-registered for the 2011 Workshop on “Women Rethinking Equality” is underway at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.; see here).  Of those 80, 66 (82.50%) were either speakers or members of the planning committee.  I’m not sure what accounts for the low attendance compared to 2011, or whether 82.50% of attendees as speakers or organizers is a typical number.  (It seems high to me.)  It might be that the location was not especially appealing; the time of year was about the same for the 2015 conference versus the 2011 conference.

In any case, it was a fantastic program.  The full line-up is here.

One panel I found particularly engaging was a plenary session on reproductive rights.  Here is the panel description:

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the landmark privacy decision for reproductive rights. Although the Supreme Court expanded upon Griswold in Roe v. Wade (1973), constitutionally protected reproductive rights have followed an unsteady path since the 1970s. First, the Supreme Court has retreated from Roe’s framework and implications and has allowed significant curtailment of the right to choose in more recent decisions, notably its decision allowing prohibition of many late-term abortions. Second, the pro-life movement has shifted its focus away from demand-side restrictions on reproductive rights and toward newer and more successful supply-side restrictions, such as heightened institutional and professional requirements for abortion clinics. This turn has created large practical problems of access to facilities and professionals who can deliver effective reproductive assistance. Third, the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014) creates an indeterminate statutory authorization for “religious” employers to deny health insurance coverage for many contraceptives (so long as the religious employer believes them to be contrary to its religion). This panel of scholars will consider these questions: What reproductive rights are guaranteed by the Constitution, properly understood? What institutions (legislatures, administrators, judges) are best situated to assure those rights? What substantive as well as institutional strategies should be followed by supporters of reproductive choice?

The moderator was Laura Rosenbury (U of Florida). Speakers were Cary Franklin (Texas), Candace Gibson (formerly of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Rights), Jessie Hill (Case Western), Priscilla Ocen (Loyola LA), Neil Siegel (Duke) and Robin West (Georgetown).

I also heard an excellent paper presentation by Lauren Sudeall Lucas (Georgia State) who talked about her piece, Identity as Proxy, forthcoming in the Columbia Law Review.  Here is the abstract.

As presently constructed, equal protection doctrine is an identity-based jurisprudence, meaning that the level of scrutiny applied to an alleged act of discrimination turns on the identity category at issue. In that sense, equal protection relies on identity as a proxy, standing in to signify the types of discrimination we find most troubling.

Equal protection’s current use of identity as proxy leads to a number of problems, including difficulties in defining the category at issue; the tendency to privilege a dominant identity narrative; failure to distinguish among the experiences of subgroups within larger identity categories; and psychological and emotional harm that can result from being forced to identify in a particular way to lay claim to legal protection. Moreover, because the Court’s identity-as-proxy jurisprudence relies on superficial notions of identity to fulfill a substantive commitment to equality, it is more susceptible to co-option or manipulation by majority groups.

This Essay aims to engage readers in a thought experiment, to envision what equal protection doctrine might look like if it were structured to reflect the values identity is intended to serve without explicitly invoking identity categories as a way to delineate permissible and impermissible forms of discrimination. More specifically, it aims to shift from an identity-based jurisprudence that views race and gender as a collection of individual traits to a value-based jurisprudence that views race and gender as the product of structural forces that create and maintain subordination. Under the latter framework, the primary concern is not to eliminate differential treatment, but instead to destabilize status hierarchies and effectively counter subordination. Therefore, rather than asking whether the challenged government action is based on race or gender, one might ask whether it has the effect of perpetuating or exacerbating a history of discrimination or obstructs access to the political process. Unlike the current model, which focuses on defining categories and determining who falls within or outside those categories, the model suggested herein aims to eliminate identity as an intermediary filter and instead apply substantive rationales for heightened scrutiny directly to claims of discrimination.

The clearest impact of such a model would be in the context of affirmative action, where a majority plaintiff could no longer simply claim discrimination on the basis of race. Yet, the potential of a value-based model extends to other contexts as well — for example, challenges to voter identification laws, in which political exclusion would displace discriminatory intent and disparate impact as the relevant measure for analysis, and the treatment of pregnant women, in which discrimination on the basis of pregnancy would no longer have to align with gender to receive heightened scrutiny.

This shift has several advantages: it allows the law to make important distinctions between groups and within groups; it alleviates the need for comparative treatment and solutions that favor taking from all over giving to some; it is less likely to generate identity-based harms; it is fact-driven rather than identity-driven and thus better suited to the judicial function; and it serves an important rhetorical function by changing the nature of rights discourse.

A copy of Professor Lucas’s paper is available for download here.

There were many other great papers and panels — too many to mention.

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Image via here.


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18915472726_2a2f63b57c_zPhoto by Stephen Melkiesthian.

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Cohen and Connon, “Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism”

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David S. Cohen (Drexel) and Krysten Connon (J.D. 2012, Drexel University School of Law) have published Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism (Oxford University Press 2015).  Here is the publisher’s description:

Abortion is a legal, common, and safe medical procedure that one in three American women will undergo. Yet ever since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, anti-abortion forces have tried nearly every tactic to eliminate it. Legislative and judicial developments dominate the news, but a troubling and all-too-common phenomenon-targeted vigilante action against individual abortion providers-is missing from the national discussion, only cropping up when a dramatic story like the murder of an abortion provider pushes it to the forefront. Every day, men and women who are associated with abortion care are harassed, threatened, stalked, picketed, sent hate mail, and otherwise terrorized. Those who seek help from the law are sometimes successful, but not always, either because there are insufficient protections built into the law, or because law enforcement officials fail to respond.

In Living in the Crosshairs, the voices of these providers are heard for the first time, through extensive interviews that David S. Cohen and Krysten Connon conducted across the country. Abortion providers are targeted at home, at work, or in community spaces; they can be harassed in person or online. Abortion opponents target not only the providers themselves but also may go after their families, neighbors, and others close to them. This kind of targeting happens anywhere in the country, not just in more conservative areas, and can victimize all providers, not just high-profile doctors. For some, being the victim of targeted harassment inspires significant fear and leads to changes in behavior; for others, it has become a normal part of life; and for yet others, it actively strengthens their resolve. The response of law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels is spotty-though there are some strong laws on the books, especially at the federal level, abortion providers have had mixed experiences when it comes to legal recourse, and effectiveness varies. Drawing on ideas from the interviews, the authors propose several legal and societal reforms that could improve the lives of providers, foremost among them redefining targeted harassment as terrorism rather than protest.

Living in the Crosshairs is a rich and humane portrait of women’s health professionals who persist in their work despite harassment because they believe in what they are doing. These providers’ voices have not been heard in recent debates, leaving the public with a deficient understanding of exactly how abortion is limited in this country, yet their experiences illuminate the truth of the issue and offer us a path to a better policy.

There are reviews at Ms. (here), the New Republic (here) and RH Reality Check (here).  This is an important contribution to the literature.

-Bridget Crawford

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The Gendered Nature of Canada’s Witchcraft Law

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Here’s an interesting piece on Canadian witchcraft law. Natasha Bakht, University of Ottawa, Common Law Section, and Jordan Palmer, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, have published Modern Law, Modern Hammers: Canada’s Witchcraft Provision as an Image of Persecution at 35 Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues 123 (2015). Here is the abstract.

This article examines Canada’s retention and application of the archaic offence of pretending to practise witchcraft in the Criminal Code. The disproportionate effect that the offence has on women and certain religious and racialized groups is highlighted. The historic persecution of women accused of practising witchcraft is discussed in order to provide some background to the history and ideology of the witchcraft offence in Canada. The gendered nature of the offence is considered along with the imperial role of the dominant Judeo-Christian belief structures in curtailing religious deviance and suppressing women’s powerful positions in the community. An analysis of the confused judicial interpretation of the offence and consideration of the social goals achieved in criminalizing such activity when several fraud offences already exist in Canada follows. Finally, the constitutionality of section 365 is examined using a feminist and religious freedom lens. The recent case of R v Persaud provides the modern day backdrop to examine Canada’s witchcraft offence and propose the repeal of section 365.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

See also my post on the subject here at the Law and Magic Blog.



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Hollywood and Female Directors

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From the Hollywood Reporter’s Jonathan Handel, a discussion of the ACLU’s call for an investigation of Hollywood’s “failure to hire” women directors and an analysis of how difficult such cases are to win.

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The Influence of the Internet, Social Norms, and Law On Girls and Young Women

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Jane Bailey, University of Ottawa, Common Law Section, is publishing A Perfect Storm: How the Online Environment, Social Norms and Law Shape Girls’ Lives in eGirls eCitizens (Jane Bailey and Valerie Steeves, eds; Ottawa, University of Ottawa Press, 2015). Here is the abstract.

Considerable scholarly and policy discourse has centred on dichotomous risk/opportunity; utopic/dystopic descriptions and prescriptions around girl’s and young women’s online interactions. Too often uninformed by the voices of girls and young women themselves, these discourses have frequently led to overly simplistic understandings of girls’ and young women’s seamlessly integrated online/offline existences. These top-down perspectives have produced reactive punitive policy approaches that blame girls for their misfortunes and incent parents and other adults to deny them their privacy by monitoring and surveilling them. Grounded in the literature and international legal standards that mandate participation of children in the formulation of policy and programs affecting them, with special attention to the needs of the girl child, this paper gives voice to the situated knowledges of the Canadian girls (ages 15-17) and young women (ages 18-22) interviewed about their experiences with online social networking by The eGirls Project researchers. eGirls participants described a world in which architectures structured to maximize disclosure (and minimize privacy) code high counts of “friends” and “likes” as “popularity”. These architectural constraints combine with social norms and marketing practices that encourage emulation of mediatized representations of female beauty and sexuality as ways of competing for recognition (often, for heterosexual girls, from males). Together these produce a perfect storm incenting self-disclosure that simultaneously promises both celebrity and recognition, but also a gendered risk of shame and harassment that is complicated by the enduring consequences of unnecessarily permanent digital records. These interactions invite policy responses that take into account the difficulty of navigating this complex environment and recognize the ways in which over-reliance on privacy-invasive surveillance based mechanisms undermines girls’ capacities to thrive in our increasingly digitally networked society.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

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Bill Would Bar US Entry For Some Foreign Pregnant Women

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That’s the title of this article from Law 360.

Meanwhile, foreign men are free to come here and impregnate as many women as they like, obtaining exactly the same benefit supposedly attributable to US citizen offspring: i.e., in 21 years, should a child wish, s/he could sponsor an alien parent for lawful status (if the parent met all other qualifications).  (No one born in the USA now can trigger the potential Deferred Prosecution non-status for parents of US citizens that Obama has been trying to implement; that window closed the day his policy was announced, in November 2014.)

-Vanessa Merton

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Federal Recognition Of Same-Sex Marriage

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Mae Kuykendall, Michigan State University College of Law, has published Marriage Goals and Government Interests: Handling Complexity, Apportioning Expertise, Using Federalism. Here is the abstract.

This Article argues that the Supreme Court should require that all states recognize legal same-sex marriages rather than mandate under the Fourteenth Amendment that states must issue marriage licenses to couples of the same sex. The briefing that advocates, including most amici, provided to the Supreme Court was generally abstract. The Court did not benefit from a combined answer to the two questions. It therefore did not hear a useful comparison of why a Yes to recognition, with a No to mandating authorization, might be a superior approach. If the Court were to require only recognition, it could avoid constitutionalizing marriage law; it need not decide recognition under the Fourteenth Amendment, despite its having certified the question under the Fourteenth Amendment. Rather, principles of comity draw upon the Court’s expertise in federalism and do not call for a direct intervention in state law-making about marriage. Such an approach could incentivize some states to offer their marriage licensing, and even their substantive law, to couples who do not travel to the state. Gay rights activists could help improve and modernize marriage licensing procedure by encouraging states to provide for the issuance of licenses to couples unable to travel or to be present together. They could also bring energy in the state legislatures and before state courts to the substantive evolution of marriage law that is less defined by beliefs about gender complementarity but not entirely severed from the element of gender in the moral architecture of many marriages.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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Harvard Law School Studies Its Grads: 1975 To Date

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Bloomberg BNA is highlighting a new Harvard Law School study of its grads over the past 40 years. Findings? That:

On the one hand, the number of women entering the profession has increased dramatically in recent decades, and women lawyers can now be found in leadership positions in virtually every major legal institution in the country, including three female justices on the United States Supreme Court…

and also that

the percentage of women in these top positions remains far below their representation in the profession, even when adjusted for the fact that women did not begin to enter legal practice in significant numbers until the 1970s. To make matters worse, even women who have achieved important career success appear to be leaving their prestigious positions — and the profession as a whole — in alarming numbers.

Read the entire report, written by David Wilkins, Bryon Fong, and Ronit Dinovitzer, here.

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CFP: Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair

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Lavender Law® 2015
Chicago, IL
August 5-7, 2015
Invitation and Call for Papers Entry-Level Market Forum for Junior Scholars

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

This year the Lavender Law® Conference & Career Fair will be held August 5-7, 2015 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile in Chicago. Lavender Law brings together the best and brightest legal minds in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

To celebrate our community of scholars, Lavender Law® is hosting a Junior Scholars Forum again this year. This year, the forum will be devoted to individuals who intend to participate in the AALS annual entry-level hiring conference in Washington, D.C. If you are planning to participate in the entry-level hiring process this year, and your work focuses on the nexus between the law, gender, and sexuality, we encourage you to apply.

To submit a proposal for consideration, please email:

(1) a 5-7 page overview of your job talk; and (2) a copy of your CV to

Alexander Boni-Saenz ( and Courtney Joslin (

The deadline for submissions is Friday, June 5, 2015.

If you are selected to participate, a complete draft of your job talk will be due by July 22, 2015.

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Frozen Embryos and the Canadian Legal Regime

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Stefanie Carsley, McGill University Faculty of Law, has published Rethinking Canadian Legal Responses to Frozen Embryo Disputes at 29 Canadian Journal of Family Law 55 (2014). Here is the abstract.

This article examines and critiques Canadian legal responses to disputes over frozen in vitro embryos. It argues that current laws that provide spouses or partners with joint control over the use and disposition of embryos created from their genetic materials and that mandate the creation of agreements setting out these parties’ intentions in the event of a disagreement or divorce overlook the experiences of women who undergo in vitro fertilization treatment. It also maintains that these laws do not accord with how Canadian law and public policy has responded to similar conflicts between spouses, or to agreements that seek to control or restrict women’s reproductive choices. This article considers how legislatures and courts in other jurisdictions have sought to respond to embryo disposition disputes, but argues that their respective approaches raise similar issues and would pose additional problems within the Canadian context. It ultimately provides recommendations for how Canadian laws might better support the express objectives of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act and Quebec’s Act Respecting Clinical and Research Activities Relating to Assisted Procreation to protect the health and well-being of women, to promote the principle of free and informed consent and to recognize that women are more directly affected than men by the use of assisted reproductive technologies.


Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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The Debate Over Provocative Dress

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Jessica Wolfendale, West Virginia University, Philosophy Department, is publishing Provocative Dress and Sexual Responsibility in the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law. Here is the abstract.

Numerous studies have found that many people believe that a provocatively dressed woman is at greater risk for sexual assault and bears some responsibility for her assault if she is attacked. Furthermore, in legal, academic, and public debates about sexual assault the appropriateness of the term ‘provocative’ as a descriptor of certain kinds of women’s clothing is rarely questioned. Thus, there is a widespread but largely unquestioned belief that it is appropriate to describe revealing or suggestive women’s clothing as ‘provocative’ and that women who wear such clothing could provoke sexual assault and harassment from men. Yet it is rarely noted that only women’s clothing is described as sexually provocative. Men’s clothing, no matter how revealing, is never described as provocative. Why is this the case?

This Article challenges the assumption that it is appropriate to describe women’s clothing as provocative. Drawing on on models of the legal defense of provocation and research on objectification and responsibility, this Article demonstrates that continued use of ‘provocative’ term normalizes and entrenches deeply problematic attitudes about women’s responsibility for men’s sexual behavior. The social interpretation of women’s clothing as provocative arises from the privileged social and legal status of men’s sexual arousal and the objectification of women’s bodies. Describing women’s clothing as provocative thus reinforces a problematic conception of women’s bodies and sexuality that is connected to women’s experiences of their bodies, their clothes, and shapes their vulnerability to sexual assault and social and legal attitudes to such attacks.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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CFP: Female Perspectives in Commercial and Consumer Law

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AALS Section on Commercial and Related Consumer Law

AALS Section on Women in Legal Education

 Call For Papers

 Female Perspectives in Commercial and Consumer Law

The AALS Section on Commercial and Related Consumer Law is pleased to announce a Call for Papers for its program co-sponsored by the Section on Women in Legal Education during the AALS 2016 Annual Meeting. The papers from the program will be published in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.

Female scholars have made pivotal contributions to the development of commercial and consumer laws and scholarship in the United States, especially in the past few decades. Not only have specific women’s voices played an important role, but distinctively feminist concerns have engendered changes in legal theory and policy. This panel will discuss the contributions that specific female legal academics have made to the field (as just a few examples, Elizabeth Warren and Jean Braucher). Also, it will reflect on how feminist concerns have influenced commercial and consumer law scholarship. Finally, it will also include scholarship focused on women’s experiences with consumer and commercial law.

The Committee invites submissions from scholars interested in presenting at the program and in publishing their papers with the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. Two speakers will be selected from this call for papers. The panel is focused on “female perspectives,” broadly construed. The Section strongly encourages proposals from all genders.

There is no formal requirement as to the form or length of proposals. Preference will be given to proposals that are substantially complete and to papers that offer novel scholarly insights.

Per AALS rules, only full-time faculty members of AALS member law schools are eligible to submit a paper to a Section’s call for papers. Fellows from AALS member law schools are also eligible to submit a paper but must include a CV with their proposal. All panelists, including speakers selected from this Call for Papers, are responsible for paying their own annual meeting registration fee and travel expenses.

Deadline: AUGUST 15, 2015. We will make decisions shortly after that date. Please email submissions, in Word or PDF format, to the Program Committee c/o Jim Hawkins at with “AALS Submission” in the subject line. Before sending, please remove all identifying information from the Word or PDF document.


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Equality and Non-Discrimination under International Law

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Equality and Non-Discrimination under International Law

For those who might be interested, here is a link to the introductory chapter in a volume of collected works on the subject published this year by Ashgate, part of a five-volume series on International Human Rights:

Equality and Non-Discrimination under International Law

Issues discussed in this chapter include:

  • theories of equality;
  • formal versus substantive equality;
  • structural and institutional inequality;
  • the drafting history of human rights treaty provisions on equality and non-discrimination;
  • incisive critiques of how UN and regional human rights bodies have interpreted and applied these provisions;
  • non-treaty instruments that have influenced international law and practice;
  • perspectives on how to determine when difference in treatment is permissible or impermissible under international human rights law;
  • what grounds of discrimination are prohibited under international law and why;
  • the intersection of multiple grounds of discrimination;
  • approaches to determining what special measures, also known as affirmative action, are allowed or even required under human rights law;
  • state responsibility for discrimination by non-state actors;
  • legal requirements to use non-legal measures to address discrimination, such as governmental programs to address root causes of the prejudice that leads to discrimination.
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On Consent: The Tea Analogy

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From Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess (here), this lesson on consent:

You say “hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they go “omg fuck yes, I would fucking LOVE a cup of tea! Thank you!*” then you know they want a cup of tea.

If you say “hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they um and ahh and say, “I’m not really sure…” then you can make them a cup of tea or not, but be aware that they might not drink it, and if they don’t drink it then – this is the important bit –  don’t make them drink it. You can’t blame them for you going to the effort of making the tea on the off-chance they wanted it; you just have to deal with them not drinking it. Just because you made it doesn’t mean you are entitled to watch them drink it.

If they say “No thank you” then don’t make them tea. At all. Don’t make them tea, don’t make them drink tea, don’t get annoyed at them for not wanting tea. They just don’t want tea, ok?

They might say “Yes please, that’s kind of you” and then when the tea arrives they actually don’t want the tea at all. Sure, that’s kind of annoying as you’ve gone to the effort of making the tea, but they remain under no obligation to drink the tea. They did want tea, now they don’t. Sometimes people change their mind in the time it takes to boil that kettle, brew the tea and add the milk. And it’s ok for people to change their mind, and you are still not entitled to watch them drink it even though you went to the trouble of making it.

If they are unconscious, don’t make them tea. Unconscious people don’t want tea and can’t answer the question “do you want tea” because they are unconscious.

Ok, maybe they were conscious when you asked them if they wanted tea, and they said yes, but in the time it took you to boil that kettle, brew the tea and add the milk they are now unconscious. You should just put the tea down, make sure the unconscious person is safe, and  – this is the important bit – don’t make them drink the tea. They said yes then, sure, but unconscious people don’t want tea.

If someone said yes to tea, started drinking it, and then passed out before they’d finished it, don’t keep on pouring it down their throat. Take the tea away and make sure they are safe.  Because unconscious people don’t want tea. Trust me on this.

If someone said “yes” to tea around your  house last saturday, that doesn’t mean that they want you to make them tea all the time. They don’t want you to come around unexpectedly to their place and make them tea and force them to drink it going “BUT YOU WANTED TEA LAST WEEK”, or to wake up to find you pouring tea down their throat going “BUT YOU WANTED TEA LAST NIGHT”.

Do you think this is a stupid analogy? Yes, you all know this already  – of course you wouldn’t force feed someone tea because they said yes to a cup last week. Of COURSE you wouldn’t pour tea down the throat of an unconcious person because they said yes to tea 5 minutes ago when they were conscious. But if you can understand how completely ludicrous it is to force people to have tea when they don’t want tea, and you are able to understand when people don’t want tea, then how hard is it to understand when it comes to sex?

Whether it’s tea or sex, Consent Is Everything.

Check out the full post here.

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Corbin on “Intentional Discrimination in Establishment Clause Jurisprudence”

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Caroline Mala Corbin (Miami) has posted to SSRN her paper, Intentional Discrimination in Establishment Clause Jurisprudence, forthcoming in the Alabama Law Review.  Here is the abstract:

In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court upheld a legislative prayer practice with overwhelmingly Christian prayers in part because the Court concluded that the exclusion of all other religions was unintentional. This requirement — that a religiously disparate impact must be intentional before it amounts to an establishment violation — is new for Establishment Clause doctrine. An intent requirement, however, is not new for equal protection or free exercise claims. This Essay explores the increased symmetry between the Establishment Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Free Exercise Clause. It argues that many of the critiques of the intentional discrimination standard made in the equal protection context apply in the establishment context. It also argues that free exercise and establishment jurisprudence still differ substantially despite their superficial symmetry.

The full piece is available for download here.

-Bridget Crawford

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Female Ejaculation Explained, Poetry-Slam Style

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The Association of College Unions International hosts a poetry slam each year.  The final rounds of this year’s College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational was held March 25–28, 2015 at Virginia Commonwealth University.  The final round featured this brilliant performance by student Mikayla Mitchell:

-Bridget Crawford

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CFP: “Creating Excellence in Learning and Teaching for Today’s Law Students”

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“Creating Excellence in Learning and Teaching for Today’s Law Students”

October 2-3, 2015, Phoenix, AZ

Arizona Summit Law School (ASLS) will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary with a conference for legal educators, law students, the legal community, and anyone interested in legal education. The Conference will be opened by Professor Gerald Hess, a leading American scholar on legal education, and founder of the Institute for Law School Teaching at Gonzaga University School of Law. The Conference will include panels and workshops intended to address an array of challenges facing law schools in the early 21st Century.

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to: Applying the latest teaching techniques, methods and technology in the classroom; Integrating practice-ready skills with doctrinal teaching; Teaching the underprepared student; Keeping higher performing students engaged and challenged; Teaching alternative and second career students; Preparing students for the new legal marketplace; Building an excellent academic support program; Preparing students to serve underserved communities


Select papers will be published in the Arizona Summit Law Review, ASLS’s flagship publication, or Accord, the internet-based sub-journal of Arizona Summit Law Review. To submit a paper, please send the following information by July 15, 2015 to

  • Author(s) name, contact information, and school affiliation
  • Author(s) CV
  • Title of the proposed paper
  • A brief description (500 words or less) of the paper


The Conference Committee welcomes proposals for 25-minute conference presentations or panel discussions, and anticipates a limited number of 50-minute slots as well. To submit a proposal, please send the following information by July 15, 2015 to

  • Presenter(s) name, contact information, and school affiliation
  • Presenter(s) CV
  • Title of the proposed presentation
  • A brief (one paragraph) description of the presentation, including a description of the presentation format (lecture with Q&A, interactive, PowerPoint, etc.)
  • A two-sentence summary of the presentation for the conference program, if accepted
  • Length of presentation
  • Technology needs for the presentation

Participants will be notified of their selection by August 15, 2015. Please note that travel assistance is not available. Please direct all questions and final submissions to the Conference Chair, Dr. Marren Sanders, at

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Secular Governments, Religious Courts, and Women’s Rights in Canada, the UK, and the US

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Marie Ashe, Suffolk University Law School, and Anissa Helie, John Jay College of Criminal Jsutice, have published Realities of Religio-Legalism: Religious Courts and Women’s Rights in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States at 20 U. Cal.-Davis J. International Law & Pol’y 139 (Spring 2014). Here is the abstract.

Religio-legalism – the enforcement of religious law by specifically-religious courts that are tolerated or endorsed by civil government – has long operated against women’s interests in liberty and equality. In the 21st century, religious tribunals – Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim – operate throughout the world. Almost all are male-dominated, patriarchal, and sex-discriminatory. Harms to women produced by Muslim or sharia courts have come into focus in recent years, but present realities of religio-legalism operating through Christian and Jewish – as well as Muslim – religious courts in Western nations have been under-examined. This essay documents controversies concerning sharia-courts that have arisen in Canada and in the United Kingdom during the past decade and also looks at concurrent developments relating to sharia and to other-than-Muslim religious courts in the US.

Religious courts – Christian, Jewish, and Muslim – have in common that they assert original or exclusive jurisdiction over certain matters. In calls for “official recognition” of sharia-courts, proponents have advanced a religious-equality argument, claiming that denial of that status to Muslim tribunals would violate the governmental obligation to avoid discrimination among religions. At the same time, sharia-related controversy has raised sharply the question about the implications for women’s liberty and equality rights that are produced by governmental accommodations of the religious-equality and religious-liberty interests asserted by all religious entities enjoying governmental recognition.

While recognizing the legitimacy and weight of the complaint against inequitable treatment of religions, we argue here that whenever governmental action to “resolve” sharia-related conflict adopts the avoidance of discrimination among religions as its single goal and therefore expands its “official recognition” to include additional religious courts, it will have the effect of enlarging religions’ power and at the same time exacerbating harms to women.

Referencing feminist writings that have documented the global spread of religious fundamentalisms from the 1990s to the present and that have exposed capitulations of liberalism to those fundamentalisms, we call for reconceptualization of the law-religion-women nexus. We urge recognition that governmental goals of equitable treatment of religions and protection of women’s rights will together be served not by expansions of governmental engagements with religion, but by retrenchment from religio-legalism. Thus, we urge, in policy and in law, clear prioritization of the protection of women’s rights and concurrent retreat from the formal recognition of all religious courts and of civil-law enforcement of the orders of any such bodies.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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Vanderbilt Center for Teaching Guide to Feminist Pedagogy

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The Vanderbilt Center for Teaching has published a new guide on feminist pedagogy, written collaboratively by a faculty member and seven graduate students.  Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

Feminist pedagogy is not a toolbox, a collection of strategies, a list of practices, or a specific classroom arrangement.  It is an overarching philosophy—a theory of teaching and learning that integrates feminist values with related theories and research on teaching and learning.  It begins with our beliefs and motivations:  why do we teach? why do students learn? what are the goals of learning?… In this guide, we explain some of the fundamental beliefs, values, and intentions behind feminist pedagogy to inform a deliberate application in specific classrooms–any and all classrooms, as feminist pedagogy can inform any disciplinary context.

View the full document here.

-Bridget Crawford

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Equal Protection and Parental Leave

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Keith Cunningham-Parmeter, Willamette University College of Law, is publishing (Un)Equal Protection: Why Gender Equality Depends on Discrimination in volume 109 of the Northwestern University Law Review (2015). Here is the abstract.

Most accounts of the Supreme Court’s equal protection jurisprudence describe the Court’s firm opposition to sex discrimination. But while the Court famously invalidated several sex-based laws at the end of the twentieth century, it also issued many other, less-celebrated decisions that sanctioned sex-specific classifications in some circumstances. Examining these long-ignored cases that approved of sex discrimination, this Article explains how the Court’s rulings in this area have often rejected the principle of formal equality in favor of broader antisubordination concerns. Outlining a new model of equal protection that authorizes certain forms of sex discrimination, (Un)Equal Protection advocates for one particular discriminatory policy that could dramatically promote gender equality in the decades to come. Fatherhood bonuses — laws that give families additional parental leave when fathers stay at home with their newborns — have the potential to drastically reorder gendered divisions of labor and expand women’s workplace opportunities. Countries that have experimented with fatherhood bonuses have seen women with children spend more time in paid work, advance in their careers, and earn higher wages. Applying these international models to the American context, this Article explains why fatherhood bonuses would fit comfortably within our constitutional framework, which authorizes discriminatory policies when such policies support women’s public participation. (Un)Equal Protection concludes by proposing a model for fatherhood bonuses in the United States that would encourage more men to perform care work, thereby advancing the goal of gender equality for both sexes.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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Goodmark on “Militarized Masculinity and Police Officers Who Commit Intimate Partner Abuse”

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Leigh Goodmark (Maryland) has posted to SSRN her paper Hands Up at Home: Militarized Masculinity and Police Officers Who Commit Intimate Partner Abuse. Here is the abstract:

The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the almost daily news stories about abusive and violent police conduct are currently prompting questions about the appropriate use of force by police officers. Moreover, the history of police brutality directed towards women is well documented. Most of that literature, however, captures the violence that police do in their public capacity, as officers of the state. This article examines the violence and abuse perpetrated by police in their private lives, against their intimate partners, although the public and private overlap significantly to the extent that the power and training provided to police officers by the state makes them significantly more dangerous as abusers. Intimate partner abuse by police officers is a systemic, structural issue created and fueled by the ways in which police officers are socialized and trained. Police officers are more likely than others to abuse their partners, and as a result of their training and their state imprimatur, police abuse of partners is more problematic and more potentially dangerous than abuse by civilians. Changing the behavior of abusive police officers may be nearly impossible given the interplay of policing and masculinity. Policing is a male profession; it encourages and rewards many of the same notions of masculinity that underscore intimate partner abuse. Feminist theories about how intimate partner abuse serves a means of asserting control over one’s partner may not explain officer-involved domestic violence; intimate partner abuse in law enforcement may be part of a larger pattern of violent behavior justified by problematic notions of masculinity. Moreover, the increasing militarization of police forces has given rise to a particularly pernicious type of masculinity, militarized masculinity, which is reflected in the attitudes and training of and methods used by police officers, both on the street and at home. Despite the high rates of intimate partner abuse by police officers, however, each incident is treated as an isolated event, rather than part of a systemic problem, and officers are largely able to act with impunity because of their centrality in the law and policy response to intimate partner abuse in the United States. The state has a serious stake in this conversation, not only because it trains and arms abusers, but because it depends upon these same abusers to enforce the very laws that they are violating in their own relationships. The U.S. response to intimate partner abuse relies heavily on the criminal justice system to enforce domestic violence laws; this article asks whether criminalization can succeed as a policy when police officers are disproportionately committing intimate partner abuse.

The full paper is available here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Acts of Violence, Feminism and Families | Comments Off on Goodmark on “Militarized Masculinity and Police Officers Who Commit Intimate Partner Abuse”

Justices of the Supreme Court, Lego Style

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Via Maia Weinstock here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off on Justices of the Supreme Court, Lego Style

Corbin on “Exploiting Mixed Speech”

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Caroline Mala Corbin (Miami) has posted to SSRN her essay, Exploiting Mixed Speech, 103 Cal. L. Rev. Circuit (forthcoming 2015).  Here is the abstract:

The Supreme Court has been taking advantage of mixed speech – that is, speech that is both private and governmental – to characterize challenged speech in the way that ultimately permits the government to sponsor Christian speech. In Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, a free speech case where the government accepted a Christian Ten Commandments monument but rejected a Summum Seven Aphorisms one, the Court held that privately donated monuments displayed in public parks were government speech as opposed to private speech and therefore not subject to free speech limits on viewpoint discrimination. In Town of Greece v. Galloway, an establishment case where the local government invited overwhelmingly Christian clergy to give a prayer before town meetings, the Court found no Establishment Clause violation in part because it attributed constitutionally troubling aspects of the speech to the private speakers rather than to the government.

The full essay is available here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminist Legal Scholarship | Comments Off on Corbin on “Exploiting Mixed Speech”

The Battered Woman Syndrome In Canadian Criminal Law

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Elizabeth A. Sheehy, University of Ottawa, Common Law Section, has published Defending Battered Women on Trial, at Defending Battered Women on Trial: Lessons From the Transcripts 1 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2014). Here is the abstract.

In the landmark Lavallee decision of 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that evidence of “battered woman syndrome” was admissible in establishing self-defence for women accused of killing their abusive partners. This book looks at the legal response to battered women who killed their partners in the fifteen years since Lavallee.

Elizabeth Sheehy uses trial transcripts and a detailed case study approach to tell, for the first time, the stories of eleven women, ten of whom killed their partners and one who did not. She looks at the barriers women face to “just leaving,” how self-defence was argued in these cases, and which form of expert testimony was used to frame women’s experience of battering. Drawing upon a rich expanse of research from many disciplines, including law, psychology, history, sociology, women’s studies, and social work, she highlights the limitations of the law of self-defence, the successful strategies of defence lawyers, the costs to women undergoing a murder trial, and the serious difficulties of credibility that they face when testifying. In a final chapter, she proposes numerous reforms.

In Canada, a woman is killed every six days by her male partner, and about twelve women per year kill their male partners. By illuminating the cases of eleven women, this book highlights the barriers to leaving violent men and the practical and legal dilemmas that face battered women on trial for murder.


Download the essay from SSRN at the link. Link to the case R. v. Lavallee here.


Posted in Acts of Violence, Criminal Law, Feminism and Families, Feminist Legal Scholarship, Firsts, Sisters In Other Nations | Comments Off on The Battered Woman Syndrome In Canadian Criminal Law

Thirty Law Profs Sign On To Letter Analyzing Proposed Indiana Religious Liberty Law

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statehouseUpon the request of a member of the Indiana legislature, a letter signed by 30 law professors, many from Indiana University, was released today analyzing the proposed “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” bills pending before the Indiana legislature.  The letter provided careful analysis of the bills in light of Indiana and federal religious liberty law.  The analysis stresses that:

  1. Religious freedom is a fundamental American value enshrined in the Indiana Constitution. But the proposed legislation could undermine those values and result in harmful consequences.
  2. The proposed Indiana RFRA would unsettle a well–reasoned harmony struck by Indian courts between rights to religious liberty and other fundamental rights – as such, this is not a modest proposal but instead could have radical consequences and will unleash a wave of litigation.
  3. Such harmful consequences could include employers, landlords, and corporations taking the law into their own hands and arguing that their religious beliefs allow them to avoid complying with laws that apply to everyone else.  This will likely result in a flood of lawsuits.
  4. The right to religious liberty, like most fundamental rights, is not absolute.  The law is very clear that religious liberty rights secured under state RFRAs or under the Indiana or U.S. Constitutions cannot be secured by shifting material costs to third party rights-holders.  The proposed legislation should not be enacted because it does not limit the scope of religious liberty rights in cases where they undermine other important rights to public health, equality, or security.
    • For instance, when a state police officer sought an exemption from working as a riverboat gaming agent because he had a religious objection to gambling, an Indiana court rejected this challenge, the Indiana Court of Appeals noted that, “law enforcement agencies need the cooperation of all members…Firefighters must extinguish all fires, even those in places of worship that the firefighter regards as heretical.”
    • In a Supreme Court case, an Amish employer challenged on religious grounds the requirement to pay Social Security taxes on behalf of his employees. The court rejected the exemption, noting the harm it would impose on others.
  5. Some supporters of the proposed RFRA have argued incorrectly that the language of the proposed Indiana RFRA is the same as the federal RFRA and as such the Indiana law should gain bipartisan support, just as the federal RFRA did in 1993.
  6. In fact, many original supporters of the federal RFRA, including members of Congress who voted for the law and advocates who supported it, have withdrawn their support for the federal RFRA because it has been interpreted and applied in ways they did not expect at the time they lent their endorsement to the law.

The letter is available here.

Posted in Academia | Comments Off on Thirty Law Profs Sign On To Letter Analyzing Proposed Indiana Religious Liberty Law

How Much is Male Virginity Worth?

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More than $1,278, apparently.  According to the (UK) Mirror (here), a 24-year old Romanian man is offering to “sell” his virginity and has turned down an offer of 1,125 euros (approximately $1,278).

Sound familiar? A Russian man received $2,600 in 2013.  See here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Masculinity, Sex and Sexuality | Comments Off on How Much is Male Virginity Worth?

On Feminist Burnout in Cyberspace

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Michelle Goldberg, a contributing writer at the Nation, wrote in the Washington Post that, “Feminist Writers are so Besieged by Online Abuse that Some Have Begun to Retire.” Here is an excerpt:

This is a strange, contradictory moment for feminism. On one hand, there’s never been so much demand for feminist voices. Pop stars such as Beyoncé and Taylor Swift proudly don the feminist mantle, cheered on by online fans….

On the other hand, while digital media has amplified feminist voices, it has also extracted a steep psychic price. Women, urged to tell their stories, are being ferociously punished when they do. Some — particularly women who have the audacity to criticize sexism in the video-game world — have been driven from their homes or forced to cancel public appearances. Fake ads soliciting rough sex have been placed in their names….

Feminists of the past faced angry critics, letters to the editor and even protests. But the incessant, violent, sneering, sexualized hatred their successors absorb is harder to escape. For women of color, racial abuse comes along with the sexism….

Uppity women, of course, have long been targets of rage and contempt. In 1969, when Marilyn Webb spoke about feminism at an antiwar demonstration in Washington, many of the men who were listening erupted, screaming at her to strip and demanding that she be pulled down and raped. Feminists of the second wave regularly contended with real-world hostility from left-wing men that would be inconceivable today. Nona Willis Aronowitz, features editor at Talking Points Memo, is the daughter of the revered late feminist writer Ellen Willis, who wrote for publications including the Village Voice and the New Yorker. “Forget random online commentators — people who were working at her same publications were total sexists,” Aronowitz says. Male Voice staffers, Willis once wrote, regularly referred to their female colleagues as the “Stalinist feminists.”

Read the full piece here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Culture, Feminism and Technology, If you're a woman, Sexual Harassment | Comments Off on On Feminist Burnout in Cyberspace

Where are the Women? Stetson Law Review “Inequality” Symposium Edition

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On March 6, 2015, the Stetson Law Review is holding a symposium on Inequality, Opportunity, and the Law of the WorkplaceHere are the 12 scheduled speakers:

Keynote Speaker:
Wilma Liebman
Adjunct Professor of Law at NYU
Former NLRB Chair

Featured Speaker:
Timothy Noah
Labor and Employment Editor for Politico
Former Writer for Slate and MSNBC

David Cay Johnston
Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at Syracuse University College of Law
Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist

Distinguished Panelists: 
Samuel Bagenstos, University of Michigan Law School
Matthew Bodie, Saint Louis University School of Law
Charlotte Garden, Seattle University School of Law
Dr. Larry Mishel, President of the Economic Policy Institute
Paul Sonn, General Counsel and Program Director at the National Employment Law Project
Katherine Stone, UCLA Law
Michael Tanner, Senior Fellow at Cato Institute
Steven Willborn, Nebraska College of Law
Michael Zimmer, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Only 3 out of 12 speakers are female.  Perhaps the symposium will address the interrelationship between gender inequality and economic inequality, and what it means when the dialogue about inequality is dominated by men.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Where are the Women? | Comments Off on Where are the Women? Stetson Law Review “Inequality” Symposium Edition

Thomas Jefferson School of Law Announces 15th Annual Women In Law Conference

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Thomas Jefferson School of Law announces registration is open for its 15th annual Women and the Law Conference. The Conference will be held March 27, 2015. Well-known defense attorney Leslie Abramson will deliver the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecture this year. More information at the TJSL website here.

Posted in Academia, Upcoming Conferences | Comments Off on Thomas Jefferson School of Law Announces 15th Annual Women In Law Conference

Report of “Best Practices” Panel on Changes LSAC Must Make

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Feminist Law Prof Ruth Colker (Ohio State) is part of the 5-person expert panel nominated pursuant to the consent decree settling the federal ADA action against the Law School Admission Council.  (For more info on that case, see here.)  The expert panel just issued its report proscribing practices that LSAC must implement.  LSAC has until February 26 to notify the court of any objections to the expert recommendations.

A full copy of the expert panel’s report is here.  Four of the five members of the committee have issued an “executive summary,” a copy of which is here.  The 1-person minority report is here.

Anyone wishing to urge LSAC to accept the recommendations instead of challenging them in court should feel free to email LSAC Executive Director Daniel Bernstine:

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and the Workplace, Law Schools | Comments Off on Report of “Best Practices” Panel on Changes LSAC Must Make

Aloni on the Partisan Politics of Marriage

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Erez Aloni (Whittier) has an op-ed in the Guardian, Republicans Want ‘Stronger’ Marriages but are Fighting Equality Within ThemHere is an excerpt:

Even as social conservatives pontificate on preserving the sanctity of marriage and the importance of making divorce once again more difficult, other conservatives have launched a complementary crusade if ‘I do’ isn’t forever: hands off your ex’s money. * * * [C]onservatives around the country are fighting to make it easier for the wealthier partner or spouse to walk away with minimal financial obligations when marriage does end in divorce – which has the potential to disproportionately affect women.

That concurrent campaign, also led by conservatives, employs a very different tactic, and has largely evaded public scrutiny. In recent years, several states have passed or considered laws that would reduce alimony payment periods (Massachusetts, Florida, Connecticut), make prenuptial agreements more difficult to invalidate (Colorado, Mississippi), and make it much harder for unmarried partners to claim support from their exes. * * * Taken together, these reforms to alimony, palimony and prenuptial law create significant freedom for the wealthier party to skirt any financial responsibility to support an ex-partner while limiting protections for the less-well-off partner. Paradoxically, these changes provide incentives both not to get married … and then to get divorced if you do.

These modifications have gradually seeped into the legal system, with alimony reform being perhaps the most familiar (and controversial) development. Legislation was enacted last September in New Jersey, which followed Massachusetts’s lead: most notably, for marriages that last fewer than 20 years in New Jersey, alimony payments can no longer exceed the length of the marriage. Two years earlier, New Jersey had amended its prenuptial agreements law: before the changes, the courts had discretion not to enforce prenuptial agreements if their terms were unfair at the time of divorce, recognising that engaged couples are often blind to the possibility of divorce and that circumstances and needs change over the course of a marriage. Since 2013, however, if couples follow certain procedural requirements when they sign their pre-marriage agreements, courts are legally bound to enforce their terms. * * *

Conservatives claim that they want to strengthen marriage in order to reduce poverty. But these simultaneous reforms to divorce law actually weaken marriage by giving the economically better-situated partner or spouse (usually the man) a legal escape hatch to dodge financial obligations, thereby perpetuating the cycle of poverty, particularly for women. If conservatives – or we as a society – are genuinely interested in strengthening families, it is time to rethink the legal system that makes it easy for one partner to walk away from a relationship with little or no responsibility for the life of the other.

Read the full piece here.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Feminism and Families, Women and Economics | Comments Off on Aloni on the Partisan Politics of Marriage