AAUW Members Hear What the Latest Supreme Court Decisions Mean in Recent LAF Call
On July 15, AAUW members from across the country joined LAF staff to discuss the U.S. Supreme Court’s most important cases from this past term. Members heard a breakdown of the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision, which will allow some corporations to restrict their employees’ contraceptive insurance coverage. The call also reviewed Congress’ attempts to ensure women’s access to affordable contraception. LAF staff and callers also discussed the court’s rulings on abortion clinic buffer zone laws, prayer in local government meetings, and affirmative action restrictions.
If you weren’t able to attend the call, you can listen to a recording. LAF will host a preview call this fall to highlight the cases the Supreme Court will take up in 2015. Stay tuned for more information.
Today is the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s signing the Civil Rights Act into law, which paved the way for the Voting Rights Act to be enacted a year later. We have ample proof of the power of voting. The President we elect has the power to name Supreme Court justices (confirmed by the Senators we elect) that make decisions that have tremendous impact on our lives. Example: the 5-4 Supreme Court decision announced this past Monday where 5 male justices ruled that the boss of a closed company can decide whether female employees may have insurance that includes contraception coverage.
So it’s time for a Power Check. AAUW urges us all to spread the word and ask our friends, family, and neighbors to participate in a nationwide Power Check today to verify they are registered to vote in the November midterm elections, and refer them to Can I Vote? if they need assistance.
If we vote in record numbers in the 2014 midterm elections, we can ensure our voices are heard in our communities for years to come.
BOOK GROUP NEWS
Our July book selection is “The Pickup ” by Nadine Gordimer. Nadine Gordimer is a Nobel Prize winning author and political activist who grew up in South Africa. The Pickup is her 13th novel and set in Africa. What does this title say to you? Read it and find out! Discussion starts July 25th.
Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination Rules in Favor of LAF-Supported Plaintiff
The Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination (MCAD) recently upheld a ruling in favor of LAF-supported plaintiff Lulu Sun in her gender and race discrimination case against the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. In June 2011 an MCAD hearing officer concluded that the university had violated Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination laws and ordered the university to 1) promote Sun, with retroactive pay back; 2) pay $200,000 in emotional distress damages, plus 12 percent interest from the date the complaint was filed; 3) pay the commonwealth of Massachusetts a $10,000 civil penalty; and 4) conduct an anti-discrimination training for its human resources staff, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the provost, and the chancellor.
After the June 2011 decision, the university promoted Sun to the position of full professor but appealed the emotional distress award, the civil penalty, and the anti-discriminatory training requirements to the full commission. In its most recent ruling the commission upheld the MCAD hearing officer’s decision, ordering the university to pay the emotional distress damage award and civil penalty and to conduct anti-discrimination training.
We congratulate Sun on the commission’s ruling; however, the university may still appeal the decision, so the case is not over. Stay tuned for more updates as the case progresses.
Our CA Online Branch was among the top 10 branches per capita in AAUW Funds donations for 2013!
AAUW Funds Top 10 Branches per Capita,
including all funds
1. San Luis Obispo $281.15
2. Berkeley, Inc. $207.19
3. Santa Ana-Orange $188.67
4. San Fernando Valley $187.65
5. Oakland-Piedmont $172.67
6. Danville-Alamo-Walnut Creek $157.72
7. Long Beach, Inc. $128.31
8. San Jose, Inc. $108.70
9. Marin, Inc. $106.02
10. California Online $102.55
Senator Hannah Beth Jackson Holds Public Hearing on Title IX
A third Title IX opportunity is coming in August and this time it will be in Sacramento. Senator Hannah Beth Jackson is scheduling a Public Hearing on the topic of Title IX sometime in August. This will be the culminating event to the “Opening Doors & Opportunities for Girls” compliance check list produced by the newly formed, California Title IX Coalition of which AAUW CA is a member.
Senator Jackson has a bill SB 1349 and AAUW CA is supporting, that requires schools to report athletic opportunities by gender every three years to CA Dept of Education. As soon as we have a firm date for the Public Hearing we will let you know. The Opening Doors & Opportunities for Girls is available under Mission-Based Programs/Title IX on the aauw-ca website.
I wish you some great times this summer and even if your branch doesn’t meet during the summer months, there is much we can do to raise AAUW’s visibility throughout California.
AAUW in Community Spotlight at LA Sparks Game
The next Title IX opportunity is in southern California, when AAUW CA is in the Community Spotlight again at an LA Sparks women’s professional basketball game. Let’s really create a “buzz” with a huge number of AAUW members, friends, family, female athletes with their coaches and supporters of Title IX on August 3, 2014 at the 12:30 pm game at the Staples Center.
Selling tickets is quite easy and we get to use this as a fundraiser. More information coming soon! We are still in the planning phase with the team due to the recent purchase of the team by Magic Johnson Enterprises. The ticket order forms will be available at aauw-ca.org early June and will be emailed out to branch leaders.
It’s graduation season, and many of us know someone earning a college diploma (associate, baccalaureate, or higher degree). Did you know any AAUW member may give the gift of AAUW membership FOR FREE? Give a Grad a Gift of AAUW membership!
Note: This promotion applies to anyone who has earned a degree within the past TWO years, so you can still give this free gift to someone who graduated last May as well as those graduating this year.
Oral Arguments in Title IX Case
We have a great opportunity to actually hear the oral arguments for a Title IX case. Title IX was passed into law in 1072 and it requires all public schools to provide equal opportunity regardless of sex in all areas of the school program.
On Tuesday June 3, 2014 at 9:30 AM in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit the oral arguments will be given for the Title IX athletics case of Ollier vs Sweetwater Union High School District which was originally filed in 2007 is heading to the Court of Appeals. On February 9, 2012, Judge James M. Lorenz ruled in favor of the female athletes determining the school district unfairly favored boys’ sports over girls’ sports at Castle Park High School by giving the boys better athletic facilities, resources and opportunities.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Elizabeth Kristen is an AAUW CA member and we need to show her and the plaintiffs that AAUW members are willing to stand together in support of Title IX. Please share this information with branch members, family and friends and let’s pack that room.
This is a tremendous opportunity to really learn more about Title IX and also about our judicial process. It will mean so much to the plaintiffs and their legal team to have the visible show of support. Perhaps, it will also have a profound impact on the judges and the media. Be sure to wear an AAUW Title IX T-shirt and/or AAUW name badge.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
The Richard H. Chambers Courthouse
125 South Grand Avenue, Courtroom 3
Pasadena, CA 91105
Attorney for the Plaintiff: AAUW Member, Elizabeth Kristen
Director Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program
Senior Staff Attorney
Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center
180 Montgomery St., Suite 600
San Francisco, CA 94104
Supreme Courts Upholds State Ban on Affirmative Action Policies
In April the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, a case previewed during our Supreme Court member call last October. The 6-2 ruling upheld a 2006 Michigan ballot initiative that amended the state constitution to prohibit affirmative action admissions at state universities. At issue was not the constitutionality of affirmative action policies but whether the ballot initiative was constitutional. AAUW signed on to an amicus brief urging the court to strike down the ban.
While AAUW is disappointed in it, the ruling does not affect affirmative action policies currently in place in other states. In fact a joint statement issued by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice on May 6 declared that the ruling leaves “intact the court’s prior holdings, recognizing that institutions of higher education and elementary and secondary schools may use all legally permissible methods to achieve their diversity goals.” AAUW strongly supports affirmative action policies and will continue to resist similar bans in other states.