Tuesday, September 16, 2008

McCain and Women's Rights

We have been deeply puzzled by John McCain's sudden media stardom as a supposed leading advocate for women's equality. It's all due, of course, to his pick of Sarah Palin as a running mate and nonsense over lipstick and pigs.

The facts are that over the past two and a half decades, John McCain always has been a reliable vote in the Senate against equal pay legislation for women. The latest example is McCain's opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Amendment.

The Ledbetter Amendment would have reversed the pernicious misreading of Title VII by a thin, conservative majority of the Supreme Court:
Lilly Ledbetter worked at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Gadsen, Alabama, for 19 years. By the time Lilly retired as a supervisor, she was making $6,500 less than the lowest-paid male supervisor. When she made a claim for pay discrimination, the Supreme Court dismissed her case, telling her she should have filed her complaint within six months of the discrimination—even though she didn’t know she was being discriminated against at that point.
Ledbetter didn't "know" she was being paid less than men for equal work because the employer hid its pay scale and threatened to fire employees who disclosed their pay to each other. Since 1973, every federal court in the land recognized that in such circumstances the six month statute of limitations for Equal Pay violations was tolled, or suspended, until the female victim learned of the discrimination. Bush's conservative appointments to the Supreme Court overturned that precedent last yrar.

The "Ledbetter Amendment" would have corrected the court's misreading of the law. John McCain openly opposed the amendment. As the Associated Press and USA Today reported back in April, " Republican Sen. John McCain, campaigning through poverty-stricken cities and towns, said Wednesday he opposes a Senate bill that seeks equal pay for women because it would lead to more lawsuits."

McCain is no advocate of women's equality in the work place. Barack Obama's campaign has the facts exactly right -- complete with footnotes! -- in this latest ad:

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