Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Something Alito Will Never Experience

Is sex discrimination at work. Martha Burke has written an excellent article on why Alito's nomination is bad for employed women:

Alito's confirmation, if it happens, could also have profound implications for working women, only from the opposite point of view. Like the other seven men on the Court, he's never experienced sex discrimination firsthand, so he doesn't see it as a problem. His record is clear -- big business rules.

During his 15 years on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, he compiled a stunning record of backing corporations over workers in sex and race discrimination cases. He has bragged that he is "particularly proud" of his work in opposing affirmative action, and never expressed regret for joining a militantly anti-woman club dedicated to keeping women out of Princeton. This mindset does not bode well for female employment rights.

One case that could come before the Court in the near future just happens to be the largest sex discrimination suit in history, Dukes v. Wal-Mart. Current and former female employees of the nation's largest employer are seeking class-action status to pursue pay and promotion discrimination claims. They've won in lower courts, and Wal-Mart is of course appealing. If the case reaches the Supremes a vote against the women could effectively torpedo female workplace rights for a generation.

Burke also notes that the Judicial Committee holding the hearings on Alito has exactly one woman member. One out of eighteen. To decide on putting the eighth man on the court of nine Justices.

But the most important point in the article is the one I highlight in my title for this post. There are things that men or whites in this society do not experience, and having eight men and one woman and only one black Justice on the Supreme Court will not provide a balanced menu of possible human experiences.