Friday, August 19, 2005

How deceptive is this headline on the front page of the Washington Post?
Roberts Resisted Women's Rights
These are the examples that the Post thinks justifies that headline.
Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. consistently opposed legal and legislative attempts to strengthen women's rights during his years as a legal adviser in the Reagan White House, disparaging what he called "the purported gender gap" and, at one point, questioning "whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good."

In internal memos, Roberts urged President Ronald Reagan to refrain from embracing any form of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment pending in Congress; he concluded that some state initiatives to curb workplace discrimination against women relied on legal tools that were "highly objectionable"; and he said that a controversial legal theory then in vogue -- of directing employers to pay women the same as men for jobs of "comparable worth" -- was "staggeringly pernicious" and "anti-capitalist."

Roberts's thoughts on what he called "perceived problems" of gender bias are contained in a vast batch of documents, released yesterday, that provide the clearest, most detailed mosaic so far of his political views on dozens of social and legal issues. Senators have said they plan to mine his past views on such topics, which could come before the high court, when his confirmation hearings begin the day after Labor Day.

Covering a period from 1982 to 1986 -- during his tenure as associate counsel to Reagan -- the memos, letters and other writings show that Roberts endorsed a speech attacking "four decades of misguided" Supreme Court decisions on the role of religion in public life, urged the president to hold off saying AIDS could not be transmitted through casual contact until more research was done, and argued that promotions and firings in the workplace should be based entirely on merit, not affirmative action programs.
So much research has shown that the gap in gender pay is due to other elements rather than mere gender. Non-married women earn just about the same as non-married men. Women who take time off to have children earn less than men (and women) who work throughout those years. The real story is that women are making choices and some of those choices involve deciding to stay home with children or not seeking a certain job path that would lead them to need to spend more time away from their families. You may decry those choices, but in a free society, that is what women do.

The idea of comparable worth is "pernicious and anti-capitalist." The idea that we should try and figure out which professions are comparable and then arbitrarily decide that, for example, laundry workers should get as much as garbage men, is an absolutely terrible idea. I'm sure John Roberts can ably defend his belief that the government should not be substituting for the market place in determining the salaries for certain professions. And affirmative action programs that would advance women simply for being women are terrible ideas.

But the Washington Post just buys right in to the feminist arguments of 20 years ago that these positions advanced women's rights and any contrary position is keeping women down. I'm sure that Barbara Boxer who has been making noises about a filibuster will be happy to parrot that line. But the facts do not bear it out.

And the joke about not encouraging homemakers to become lawyers - couldn't that be a crack at lawyers and not homemakers? Which calling to you regard as more noble?

And remember that John Roberts himself is married to a very successful lawyer who will earn lots more than he will if he is confirmed. I don't think he has shown in his personal life a strange antipathy to smart and successful women.