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Gains and Losses for Women in 2008-09 Supreme Court Decisions

National WomenÂ’s Law Center Releases New Analysis of Impact on Women


(Washington, DC)  As the U.S. Supreme Court wrapped up its 2008-2009 term today, the National WomenÂ’s Law Center (NWLC) released a new analysis of several crucial decisions that demonstrate the impact of the Court on womenÂ’s lives, available here: www.nwlc.org/pdf/SupremeCourt2008-2009.pdf.


“The cases that came before the Supreme Court this term illustrate the very real impact of the Court on the day-to-day lives of women across the country,” said NWLC Co-President Marcia D. Greenberger.


In Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee, the Supreme Court safeguarded womenÂ’s and girlsÂ’ rights by allowing them to pursue remedies for gender discrimination in schools under both Title IX and the Constitution. In Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee, the Court ruled that employees are protected from being subject to retaliation for cooperating with an employerÂ’s internal investigation of discrimination. “The CourtÂ’s decisions in these two cases kept hard-won protections in place,” Greenberger said.


The outcome in two other cases was not as positive. “In AT&T Corp. v. Hulteen, the Supreme Court ignored the realities of the workplace and the intent of Congress and ruled against female workers,” Greenberger said. As Justice Ginsburg noted in a strong dissent in the case, the CourtÂ’s decision permitted AT&T to pay women lower pension benefits for the rest of their lives.


“Today, in Ricci v. DeStefano, five Justices have issued an opinion that sets back the cause of equal employment opportunity, making it more difficult for women and minorities to compete fairly to secure jobs,” Greenberger stated. “The Court today crafted a new standard in Ricci that represents a significant change in the law and that will dramatically affect womenÂ’s and minoritiesÂ’ employment opportunities.” 


“The Hulteen and Ricci decisions, in particular, demonstrate that the Roberts Court cannot be counted on to recognize or to uphold the civil rights protections of the utmost importance to women, because they repeatedly ignore the realities of the workplace for women and employees,” Greenberger said.


“These cases underscore why every seat on the Supreme Court is of paramount importance to women,” she added. “It is absolutely critical to the women of this country that any nominee to the Supreme Court has a strong commitment to upholding and enforcing women’s basic legal rights and protections.”


For a fact sheet summarizing the above cases and their impact on women, view: www.nwlc.org/pdf/SupremeCourt2008-2009.pdf.


To view NWLCÂ’s amicus briefs on the above cases, visit the following links:



For more information on the Supreme Court and womenÂ’s rights, see: http://www.nwlc.org/pdf/EveryVoteCountsMay2009.pdf.


For more information or to interview Marcia D. Greenberger, please contact Adrienne Ammerman or Mary Robbins at 202-588-5180.




The National Women's Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women's legal rights.  The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women.  For more information on the Center, visit:  www.nwlc.org.


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