Achieving Diversity in the Legal Profession
A publication of The State Bar of California Council on Access and Fairness. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors. They have not been adopted or endorsed by the State Bar Board of Trustees and do not necessarily constitute the official position of the State Bar of California.All activities are funded entirely by voluntary contributions. No mandatory attorney dues are used for these activities.
September 2014 – Annual Meeting Issue
In this Issue:
Notes from the Chair:
Welcome to the Council on Access and Fairness September 2014 Annual Meeting Issue
By Hon. Cynthia Loo, Commissioner, Superior Court, Mariposa County
It has been fifty years since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial / ethnic minorities and women and ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools. Few would argue that much has been achieved in the fight for equality in the last half of a century. There are those however, who are powerful inspiring reminders that the fight for social justice is still ongoing, and that the power of change is within each of us.
Dolores Huerta is one such inspiration. At age 83 Huerta is fiercely passionate, still tirelessly fighting and speaking out against inequality. At a recent event at Sonoma State University, Huerta had the audience on their feet, captivated, and enthralled by her presence. “What we have to do, we have to get organized” she says, “I know it sounds like a big task, but we have the power in your person to make changes. If we don’t step up to the plate, then we won’t make any changes. We need to take the responsibility to make these contributions.” She challenged each attendee to get into the community, walk door to door, and get people out to vote. Huerta promises it’s the best leadership experience. “Si se puede!”
Huerta has given hundreds of talks such as this throughout the years. In 1962 she co-founded the United Farm Workers Organization Committee with Cesar Chavez. Her organizing skills were said to be essential to the growth of this influential organization. Though she is most known for her work with the United Farm Workers and has been called a “role model to many in the Latino community,” in reality she is a civil rights icon and inspirational to all due to her passionate and courageous fight against inequality.
For decades Huerta courageously worked at propelling leaders who advocate for the working poor, women, people of all ethnicities and children. On June 5, 1968, she stood by Robert Kennedy’s side at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles as he delivered a victory statement the night he won the California Democratic primary. “It was absolutely joyous because we knew that we were going to have a president that really cared, that cared about poor people, working people, people of color,” she said. Moments after Kennedy finished his speech, with Huerta steps behind him, Kennedy was shot inside the hotel’s kitchen pantry, wounds that would prove fatal to Kennedy the next day.
In September 1988, Huerta was severely beaten by San Francisco Police officers during a peaceful protest of the policies of then-candidate for president George H.W. Bush. Her internal injuries were life threatening, resulting in the removal of her spleen and several broken ribs. The clear ramming of the butt end of a baton on Huerta was caught on videotape and broadcasted widely, and resulted in the SFPD changing their policies, as well as a large judgment, the proceeds of which were used for the benefit of farm workers. Despite these tragic events, Huerta courageously fought to advocate for the rights of others, not just for immigrants and workers, but for all ethnic minorities, LGBT rights and women.
For decades Huerta has fought for women’s rights and gender equality, particularly urging women and women of color to run for office, so that there is a government representative of its citizenry. For instance, she recently noted that the U.S. Congress is only 17% women, and that the United States is ranked a dismal 70th in the world vis-à-vis representation in government. Huerta urges for a needed change in the way women are raised in this country. She spoke of a study in which students were asked whether they felt they were qualified to run for office. Of the males, 85% indicated they believed they were qualified. Of the female however, only a paltry 30% stated they believed they were qualified. “Girls need to be raised to be strong!” says Huerta, “not weak, or as victims; nor should they be taught to wait that Prince Charming is on his way, to wait until he wakes you up so that you would live happily ever after.”
In 2002, Huerta founded the Dolores Huerta Foundation. The Foundation is a grassroots level community benefit organization that engages in leadership development. “We were born to make the world a better place” shares Huerta, “It is very difficult if our people don’t have an opportunity to have an education.” Huerta decries the “push out” rate (suspensions, expulsions) of children from schools, which are markedly above the norm for youth of color: 300% for Latinos, and 500% for African-Americans.
“The forces of hatred are very well organized and are always working,” shares Huerta, “we need to work harder than them. You have the power. The power is in your person. That’s all you need. You have to come together. This is the way to make changes.” She also said: “Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.”
The Council on Access and Fairness (COAF) is honored to have Dolores Huerta join the COAF in its celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act with programming during the State Bar Annual meeting in San Diego on Saturday, September 13, 2014. There is much work we are doing to pave the way for current and future attorneys to become the next set of future leaders, promoting change and equality in our profession. We hope that you will join us in this important celebration and call to action. Si, se puede.
Introducing New COAF Members and AOC Liaison
New Council on Access and Fairness (COAF) members have been appointed by the Board of Trustees and will join COAF in September 2014. New members include Ruthe Ashley (CEO Diversity Matters and Chair, California Law Academy Support Council, instrumental in forming partnership between California Department of Education and State Bar to create the California Partnership High School Law Academies; and former member State Bar Board of Governors); Kevin Johnson (Dean, UC Davis School of Law, member Judicial Advisory Group for Sen. Barbara Boxer and National Advisory Board of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law And Equality, Seattle); and Claudia Townsend (Deputy Executive Officer, Executive Office of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. former Deputy County Counsel in the Los Angeles County, Office of the County Counsel, served as General Counsel for the southern region for California Association of Black Lawyers and on the board of the National Bar Association). Also Kyanna Williams is the new Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Liaison replacing long time liaison, Donna Clay Conti, who recently retired. Kyanna is a past COAF member and former managing attorney, Legal Services of Northern California, Redding Office.
Congratulations to 2014 Diversity and Education Pipeline Award Recipients
The Board of Trustees approved the recipients of the 2014 Diversity and Education Pipeline Awards during its July 2014 meeting. Recipients include Judge Judy Johnson, Munger, Tolles and Olson, the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association, California Minority Counsel Program and the Judicial Intern Opportunity Program. Diversity contributions of recipients include the following:
Hon. Judy Johnson selected for her career efforts with the Legal Aid Society of Alameda County, as Assistant District Attorney, City and County of San Francisco, and for her many “firsts” including first woman president of the Charles Houston Bar Association, first woman of color to serve on the State Bar Board of Governors, first woman and attorney of color to be appointed as the State Bar Chief Trial Counsel (at the time she was the only Chief nominated and confirmed by the State Senate to serve for two consecutive terms.)
Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP is recognized for its numerous pipeline programs, recruitment and retention initiatives, programs supporting advancement in the firm and beyond, and for its ongoing support for diversity in the profession.
San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association is recognized for its numerous diversity activities and projects including SDLRLA Scholarship Fund, collaboration with other local bar associations and organizations on diversity programs and initiatives. Activities designed to further the goals of diversity and inclusion in the profession include the Neighborhood Law Program, Project L.E.A.D., and Law Day and Commitment to Public Services.
California Minority Counsel Program is recognized for proactively providing direct opportunities for minority attorneys to attain access to business decision makers, assisting corporations law firms and public agencies in meeting their commitment to increase numbers of attorneys of color in their organizations, and assisting corporations and public agencies in increasing the amount of their outside counsel diversity spend on attorneys of color.
Judicial Intern Opportunity Program is recognized for providing judicial internships for diverse law students; enhancing the pipeline of qualified, skilled and diverse practitioners into the profession through increasing diversity in the courts by providing internship opportunities to those who would not otherwise have them; focusing on diverse students and groups traditionally underrepresented in the profession; and helping diverse students to become better litigators and providing them with resources to enhance their professional development.
California JusticeCorps is an AmeriCorps national service program. It is selected for its programs which recruit, train and place undergraduate and recently graduated students in 28 partnering court-based self-help legal access centers. The program also brings extra resources to overburdened courts striving to serve self-represented litigants, while providing law related education to student participants
King Hall Outreach Program is an intensive law school preparation program at UC Davis School of Law, recognized for helping students who are either economically disadvantaged or the first generation of their families to attend college to learn about the legal system, explore career opportunities in law, and prepare for law school admissions.
Save the Date: COAF Leadership Summit, October 30-31, 2014
The Council on Access & Fairness will convene a leadership summit -- “Creating Leaders for the 21st Century” on October 30-31st at the Administrative Office of the Courts in San Francisco. This is a must-attend event for aspiring or established leaders in the legal profession. Sharpen your leadership skills for business, career, community and personal development success. Learn inside advancement strategies for bar leaders, judges, academics, community leaders, partners, general counsel and more. Take part in hands-on practical training on essential leadership skills. Featured speakers will include Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Congresswoman Jackie Speier. For more information contact Brandi.Holmes@calbar.ca.gov.
COAF Releases Report: “Diversifying Legal Talent” for Legal Employers
Beginning in 2011, the State Bar of California’s Council on Access and Fairness (COAF) convened a series of focus groups to study and develop recommendations for legal employers to increase diversity in the legal profession. COAF conducted the study, collected and assessed data over a two-year period, and presents its findings in a report.
Specifically, the objectives of the Legal Employer Focus Groups were:
- To determine what strategies worked and did not work to improve diversity.
- To determine the impact of the economic downturn on legal employer efforts to improve diversity.
- To identify best practices that legal employers and attorneys could follow to increase diversity.
The focus groups were held in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas, with a wide variety of legal employers participating, including public interest entities; government and public sector employers; small, medium, and large law firms; law firm diversity directors; and in-house counsel. Over the course of more than twelve months, COAF was fortunate to benefit from the thoughtful and articulate participation of law firm leaders and diversity directors, public interest and government employers, and in-house counsel throughout California. This report summarizes what the Council learned with the hope that it will promote productive dialogues and positive changes in our legal profession. Reports available September 1st. For copies of the report contact email@example.com.
COAF Seeking Applicants to Fill Additional Vacancies -- Deadline: August 31, 2014
The Council on Access & Fairness (COAF) is seeking applications to fill additional vacancies.
COAF serves as the State Bar’s diversity think tank and advises the Board of Trustees on advancing State Bar diversity strategies and goals. COAF focuses on issues along the diversity pipeline to enhance opportunities and advancement in the legal profession. The diversity pipeline includes the early education pipeline pre-K to 12; college, and law school; recruitment, hiring, retention and promotion in the profession; and judicial diversity. The 25-member council consists of lawyers, judges, representatives from academia, and public members from diverse practice settings and constituencies. The council seeks new members who will have experience that represents the full spectrum of the diversity pipeline. New members are expected to have a working knowledge of diversity pipeline issues, a record of leadership and performance addressing challenges along the diversity pipeline, and ability to engage in strategic visioning towards fulfilling the Council’s vision and mission statement. The committee also seeks applicants who can produce institutional and attitudinal changes to create a culture of inclusion within the legal profession and judiciary that fosters diversity, who can create or implement initiatives that have an impact on the full pipeline, who can serve as a catalyst for change by framing and communicating ways to respond to diversity challenges, who can coordinate and partner with existing entities and individuals within the justice system and community to achieve greater diversity, and who can create mechanisms to measure change in the diversity of the legal profession. For information on the appointments process and online Application: http://cc.calbar.ca.gov/ For more information about the Council: contact Patricia Lee at 415-538-2240 or firstname.lastname@example.org
COAF Needs You! Help support the 2+2+3 Community Colleges Pathway to Law School Initiative
On May 1st (Law Day), COAF proudly launched its signature diversity pipeline initiative: 2+2+3 Community Colleges Pathway to Law School. Retired Justice Cruz Reynoso (a community college graduate) gave the keynote address at the launch. Six law schools (Loyola, Santa Clara, UC Davis, UC Irvine, USC, and USF) and their respective undergraduate schools signed an unprecedented partnership agreement to provide a pathway for students from 24 community colleges in California. COAF’s initiative received extensive press coverage – LA Times, NPR, Mercury News, SF Chronicle, Fresno Bee, ABA Journal, etc. COAF is particularly grateful to the 6 law school deans for their unyielding commitment to diversity and the legal profession. The program will start with the Fall 2014 semester. COAF is looking for lawyers, judges, firms, companies, bar organizations, law schools and other law related entities to serve as mentors and sponsors. Interested? Contact Patricia Lee (email@example.com) or Thuy Nguyen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
COAF Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at Annual Meeting
A Tribute to Dolores Huerta
(Note: Dolores Huerta, human rights activist and immigrant rights icon,will participate in the 2014 Stakeholder Forum (see below) and will present keynote remarks during the 13th Annual Diversity Awards Reception, where she will be honored for her civil rights contributions.)
Photo reproduced with permission from the Dolores Huerta Foundation
Photographer: Angela Torres
Dolores Clara Fernández was born on April 10, 1930 in Dawson, a small mining town in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Her father Juan Fernández, a farm worker and miner by trade, was a union activist who ran for political office and won a seat in the New Mexico legislature in 1938. Dolores spent most of her childhood and early adult life in Stockton, California, where she and her two brothers moved with their mother, following her parents’ divorce.
According to Dolores, her mother’s independence and entrepreneurial spirit was one of the primary reasons she became a feminist. Dolores’ mother Alicia was known for her kindness and compassion towards others. She offered rooms at affordable rates in her 70 room hotel, which she acquired after years of hard work. Alicia welcomed low-wage workers in the hotel, and often, waived the fee for them altogether. She was an active participant in community affairs, involved in numerous civic organizations and the church. Alicia encouraged the cultural diversity that was a natural part of Dolores’ upbringing in Stockton. The agricultural community where they lived was made up of Mexican, Filipino, African-American, Japanese and Chinese working families.
Alicia’s community activism was reflected in Dolores’ involvement as a student at Stockton High School. She was active in numerous school clubs, was a majorette, and a dedicated member of the Girl Scouts until the age of 18. Upon graduating Dolores continued her education at the University of Pacific’s Delta College in Stockton earning a provisional teaching credential. During this time she married Ralph Head and had two daughters, Celeste and Lori. While teaching she could no longer bear to see her students come to school with empty stomachs and bare feet, and thus began her lifelong journey of working to correct economic injustice.
An Organizer is Born
Dolores found her calling as an organizer while serving in the leadership of the Stockton Community Service Organization (CSO). During this time she founded the Agricultural Workers Association, set up voter registration drives and pressed local governments for barrio improvements. It was in 1955 through CSO founder Fred Ross, Sr., that she would meet a likeminded colleague, CSO Executive Director César E. Chávez. The two soon discovered that they shared a common vision of organizing farm workers, an idea that was not in line with the CSO’s mission.
As a result, in the spring of 1962, César and Dolores resigned from the CSO, and launched the National Farm Workers Association. Dolores’ organizing skills were essential to the growth of this budding organization. The challenges she faced as a woman did not go unnoted and in one of her letters to Cesar she joked…” Being a now (ahem) experienced lobbyist, I am able to speak on a man-to-man basis with other lobbyists.”
The first testament to her lobbying and negotiating talents were demonstrated in securing Aid For Dependent Families (“AFDC”) and disability insurance for farm workers in the State of California in 1963, an unparalleled feat of the times. She was also instrumental in the enactment of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975. This was the first law of its kind in the United States, granting farm workers in California the right to collectively organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions.
While the farm workers lacked financial capitol they were able to wield significant economic power through hugely successful boycotts at the ballot box with grassroots campaigning. As the principal legislative advocate, Dolores became one of the UFW’s most visible spokespersons. Robert F. Kennedy acknowledged her help in winning the 1968 California Democratic Presidential Primary moments before he was shot in Los Angeles. Throughout the years she has worked to elect numerous candidates including President Clinton, Congressman Ron Dellums, Governor Jerry Brown, Congresswoman Hilda Solis and Hillary Clinton.
As much as she was Cesar’s right hand she could also be the greatest thorn in his side. The two were infamous for their blow out arguments an element that was a natural part of their working relationship. Dolores viewed this as a healthy and necessary part of the growth process of any worthwhile collaboration. While Dolores was busy breaking down one gender barrier after another, she was seemingly unaware of the tremendous impact she was having on, not only farm worker women, but also young women everywhere.
While directing the first National Boycott of California Table Grapes out of New York she came into contact with Gloria Steinem and the burgeoning feminist movement who rallied behind the cause. Quickly she realized they shared much in common. Having found a supportive voice with other feminists, Dolores consciously began to challenge gender discrimination within the farm workers’ movement.
Non-Violence is our Strength
Early on, Dolores advocated for the entire family’s participation in the movement. After all it was men, women and children together out in the fields picking, thinning and hoeing. Thus the practice of non-violence was not only a philosophy but a very necessary approach in providing for the safety of all. Her life and the safety of those around her were in jeopardy on countless occasions. The greatest sacrifice to the movement was made by five martyrs all of whom she knew personally.
At age 58 Dolores suffered a life-threatening assault while protesting against the policies of then presidential candidate George Bush in San Francisco. A baton-wielding officer broke four ribs and shattered her spleen. Public outrage resulted in the San Francisco Police Department changing its policies regarding crowd control and police discipline and Dolores was awarded an out of court settlement.
Following a lengthy recovery she took a leave of absence from the union to focus on women’s rights. She traversed the country for two years on behalf of the Feminist Majority’s Feminization of Power: 50/50 by the year 2000 Campaign encouraging Latina’s to run for office. The campaign resulted in a significant increase in the number of women representatives at the local, state and federal levels. She also served as National Chair of the 21st Century Party founded in 1992 on the principles that women make up 52% of the party’s candidates and that officers must reflect the ethnic diversity of the nation.
Her Second Wind
At 83, Dolores Huerta continues to work tirelessly developing leaders and advocating for the working poor, women, and children. As founder and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, she travels across the country engaging in campaigns and influencing legislation that supports equality and defends civil rights. She often speaks to students and organizations about issues of social justice and public policy.
There are thousands of working poor immigrants in the agriculture rich San Joaquin Valley of California. They are unfamiliar with laws or agencies that can protect them or benefits that they are entitled to. They are often preyed upon by unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of them. They often feel hopeless and unable to remedy their situations.
Dolores teaches these individuals that they have personal power that needs to be coupled with responsibility and cooperation to create the changes needed to improve their lives.
It is rarely practiced today because it is tedious and time consuming. However, the results are long lasting and while people are in the process of building organization, they are learning lessons they will never forget and the transformative roots are planted. The fruit is the leadership that is developed and the permanent changes in the community. In other words, this is how grass roots democracy works.
Recognition and Awards
There are four elementary schools in California, one in Fort Worth, Texas, and a high school in Pueblo, Colorado named after Dolores Huerta.
She was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in March of 2013. She has received numerous awards: among them The Eleanor Roosevelt Humans Rights Award from President Clinton in 1998, Ms. Magazine’s One of the Three Most Important Women of 1997, Ladies Home Journal’s 100 Most Important Woman of the 20th Century, The Puffin Foundation’s Award for Creative Citizenship: Labor Leader Award 1984, The Kern County Woman of The Year Award from the California State Legislature, The Ohtli Award from the Mexican Government, The Smithsonian Institution – James Smithson Award, and Nine Honorary Doctorates from Universities throughout the United States.
In 2012 President Obama bestowed Dolores with her most prestigious award, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Upon receiving this award Dolores said, “The freedom of association means that people can come together in organization to fight for solutions to the problems they confront in their communities. The great social justice changes in our country have happened when people came together, organized, and took direct action. It is this right that sustains and nurtures our democracy today. The civil rights movement, the labor movement, the women’s movement, and the equality movement for our LGBT brothers and sisters are all manifestations of these rights. I thank President Obama for raising the importance of organizing to the highest level of merit and honor.”
(Reprinted with permission from the Dolores Huerta Foundation see http://doloreshuerta.org/dolores-huerta/)
2014 COAF Stakeholder Forum
COAF will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act with programming during the State Bar Annual Meeting in San Diego. The Diversity Stakeholder Forum will be held on Saturday, September 13, 2014, 2:15 to 3:45 pm (location TBD) and will focus on the history and content of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and implications today for disenfranchised groups. The program will be moderated by Hon. Karen Clopton (COAF Chair-Elect) and will feature Dolores Huerta (human rights activist and immigrant rights icon), Phyllis Cheng (Director, DFEH), Mr. Dana LaMon (Disability Rights Advocate), and Rick Zbur (incoming Director, Equality California). For more information contact email@example.com.
2014 Diversity Awards Reception
The 13th Annual Diversity Awards Reception will be held on Saturday, September 13th, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Hon. Cynthia Loo (COAF Chair) will serve as emcee. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye will provide remarks, State Bar President Luis Rodriguez will welcome guests and Dolores Huerta will be the keynote speaker. COAF will acknowledge the 2014 State Bar Diversity and Education Pipeline award recipients.
Registration for the Annual Meeting is not required to attend the reception. For more information contact Brandi Holmes at 415-538-2587 or Brandi.Holmes@calbar.ca.gov. RSVP’s can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Annual Meeting MCLE EOB Progams
Diversifying Legal Talent (1.5 hours EOB), Friday, September 12, 2014, 2:15 to 3:45 pm (room TBD)
(Speakers: Cristina Rubke, Chair, COAF Legal Profession Committee; Gary Roberts, Fox Legal Group; Carol Ross-Burnett, Diversity Director, Sheppard Mullin)
Implicit Bias in the Courtroom (1 hour EOB) Sunday, September 14, 2014, 9:15 to 10:15 am(Speaker: Kimberly Papillon, Judicial Professor and Lecturer on Neuroscience, Decision-Making and the Law)
Neuroscience and Psychology of Bias In the Courtroom and Legal Practice (1.5 hours EOB) Sunday, September 14, 2014, 10:30 to 12 pm-1-1/2 hours EOB(Speaker: Kimberly Papillon)
Board of Trustees Updates
President’s Message: “Born on the Fourth of July”
By Luis J. Rodriguez, President, State Bar of California
When one hears “Born on the Fourth of July,” many things run through one’s mind: lyrics to a song, a feature film from the ’80s, devotion to our American homeland and, of course, mom and apple pie. These are recognizable cultural symbols of our patriotism. Yet, we all know that patriotism goes much deeper. Patriotism is born out of pride for what our society represents. For Americans, it is our democracy that from its birth was formed by an environment that attorneys live and breathe – the rule of law. Yet the rule of law is not a straight highway to justice. It is many paths with infinite directions and can be seen through many vantage points.
Just as the rule of law can be interpreted through many vantages, your personal vantage point can also alter how you view the very American Fourth of July holiday. For me, this day has always been a red-letter day because a person very close to me was born on it, not in the United States but in Mexico.
Socorro Rodriguez was born in Ciudad Juarez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua on July 4. I cannot give you the year because, well she is a lady. More importantly, she is my mother. Her birthdate, along with her life experiences, provide an interesting vantage on what we believe it means to be an American.
Just across the border from El Paso, Texas, Ciudad Juarez holds a significant place in Mexican and American history, and my mother’s family lived there through the Mexican Revolution. It has seen the likes of men like Gens. John J. Pershing and George S. Patton and Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. As a child and later as a young adult, my mother experienced World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars from across the Rio Grande (or Rio Bravo as it is known in Mexico). When President John F. Kennedy Jr. was assassinated and the borders were closed, she was working in El Paso.
She and my father became U.S. citizens on the day that I was sworn into federal court. But despite her late-in-life decision to become a U.S. citizen, she taught my brothers and me the value of being Americans. She wanted all her sons to be born in the United States. Both my younger brothers were born in El Paso and I in Los Angeles. But she also taught us to work hard, stand up for ourselves and be proud of our ethnic heritage. She strongly believed that by being American citizens, we would have a much better life, and she was right.
With the gift of experiencing history firsthand, her birthdate, her love for America, one can almost predict the unsettling question, “Then what happened?” My mother is a strong woman who has faced bigotry throughout life, stared it down and stood her ground with great pride in being an American. As a young Mexican woman living in the Southwest, there were certain places where, she would say, “Mexicans and dogs were not allowed.” She does not like to talk about those places or people, but through her love, she has taught me about compassion and acceptance. She has also taught me about the defense of others and defense of ideals. When we were kids, I remember a neighbor being upset with my brothers and me. Our mom came to our defense only to be told to go back to her country, to which she proudly responded, “I’m a U.S. citizen. I’m in my country!”
Recently she experienced something that reminded me that things have not changed much, yet it also reminded me why our mom is so special. She had just parked her car to do her grocery shopping when a lady tapped on my mom’s driver’s side window. My mom’s initial thought was that the woman needed directions. As soon as my mom rolled down her window, the other woman started screaming saying, “You’re an idiot, you’re a dumb woman. … How could you vote for that person? You’re stupid, and you should go back to Mexico!” My mother, expressing her freedom of speech with a bumper sticker, had revealed the recipient of her vote for president. When my mom told me this, I was enraged, and asked her if she was OK. She said that she was fine. In fact, my mother was no wilting flower. She got out of her car with cane in hand and followed that other woman into the store. There, my mother made it very clear that she was an American and “this was her right as an American … to vote for whom she wanted to vote!”
So I guess that the twist is that being born on July 4 in Mexico really did serve as a classic example of what it is to be an American. As her son, it’s in my blood. After all, I do love apple pie (a la mode), and I do love my mom. Happy Fourth, everyone.
Craig Holden Elected As Next State Bar President
By Laura Ernde, Staff Writer, email@example.com
Los Angeles attorney Craig Holden was elected as president of The State Bar of California for 2014-2015 at the July 18, 2014 meeting of the Board of Trustees. Holden, 44, will be sworn in as the 90th president of the entity that oversees California’s 249,000 licensed lawyers – the largest lawyer regulatory body in the United States with a $150 million budget – at the State Bar’s Annual Meeting in September in San Diego. Holden currently serves as vice president and ran unopposed in the Board of Trustees election. He is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP and is co-chairman of the firm's commercial litigation practice. “I am humbled by the support of my colleagues on the board and I look forward to continuing to promote the mission of public protection as well as advocating for diversity and increased court funding,” Holden said.
He was chairman of the bar’s Limited License Working Group, which explored the feasibility of creating a limited license to practice law in order to increase legal services for the poor. He now serves as vice chairman of President Rodriguez’s Civil Justice Strategies Task Force, which was created to study increased access to justice in California through limited licensing and other means. Previously, he was chairman of the Bar’s Council on Access and Fairness, which is a think-tank focused on diversifying the profession; a founder of the Diversity Coalition; and served in leadership roles on the State Bar Sections on Intellectual Property Law and Law Practice Management and Technology.
His leadership roles outside of the bar include serving on the Rand Corporation’s SoCal 50 Leadership Council, chairman of the courts committee for the Association of Business Trial Lawyers and the board of directors of the California Minority Counsel Program. Holden earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Los Angeles and a law degree from University of California Hastings College of the Law.
Board of Trustees to install five members at Annual Meeting
By Laura Ernde, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Five attorneys were chosen last month to join the State Bar Board of Trustees in September. Three were elected by members of the bar and two were appointed by the California Supreme Court. They are:
Danette Elizabeth Meyers, 56, a prosecutor in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Meyers received her undergraduate degree from the University of California San Diego and her law degree from Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C. She was president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association in 2008 and has served on the board of directors for the Association of Deputy District Attorneys. She was elected by attorneys in District 2 (Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties) to serve a three-year term.
Heather Linn Rosing, 42, a shareholder at Klinedinst PC in San Diego, where she is chairwoman of the professional liability department. Rosing received her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and her law degree from Northwestern University School of Law. She has served as an elected member of the board since 2011 and was chosen by her fellow board members to serve as vice president for the upcoming year. She was elected by attorneys in District 4 (Imperial, Inyo, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties)to serve the remaining one year of a vacant seat.
Janet Lee Brewer, 64, a solo practitioner in Palo Alto who specializes in estate and trust law. Brewer received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin and her law degree from University of Denver Sturm College of Law. She has served on the executive committee of the bar’s Solo and Small Firm Practice Section. She was elected by attorneys in District 6 (Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties) to serve a three-year term.
James P. Fox, 69, a member of the Judicial Council of California who served as the elected District Attorney of San Mateo County from 1983 to 2010. Fox received his undergraduate degree in psychology and his law degree from the University of San Francisco. He previously served on the California Commission for the Fair Administration of Justice and the State Bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation. Fox was appointed by the Supreme Court to a three-year term.
Terrance W. Flanigan, 67, a Sacramento attorney and lobbyist with the Flanigan Law Firm. Flanigan received his undergraduate degree from San Diego State University and his law degree from the University of California Davis School of Law. He served on the California State University Board of Trustees and as appointments secretary to Govs. George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson. Flanigan was appointed by the Supreme Court to a three-year term.
The appointments mark the final two of five Supreme Court appointments to the State Bar board under legislation that changed the board makeup beginning in 2012.
Turnout for the election was 11.5 percent of the attorneys eligible to cast votes. About 57.6 percent of the votes were cast by mail and the rest came in electronically. All five new trustees will be sworn in at the bar’s annual meeting Sept. 13 in San Diego.
Panel Getting Closer to Sending New Training Requirements to Board of Trustees
By Laura Ernde Staff Writer. email@example.com
A State Bar task force is in the home stretch of developing a plan to implement sweeping new training requirements for incoming lawyers. The proposed elements would include 15 units of practice-based competency training in law school, 50 hours of pro bono or reduced fee legal services during and after law school and 10 hours of competency training MCLE (Minimum Continuing Legal Education) in the first year of practice. The 30-member Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform Phase II has held six public meetings since December to determine exactly how the recommendations would be put in place. On June 11, Chairman Jon B. Streeter said the panel hopes to send a draft to the Board of Trustees by September, although he noted the timeline could be extended if necessary.
The plan requires not only board approval, but also proposed changes to rules and regulations that must go to the California Supreme Court or the Legislature. That makes it difficult to predict when any new rules would go into effect. The group originally hoped to phase in the requirements starting in 2015 with the new MCLE courses, but Streeter said the timeline could change. He added that the 15-unit requirement would not be imposed on students who have already begun law school.
Also, the panel appeared likely to exempt from the 15-unit requirement prospective bar members who have practiced full-time in other states for at least one year, as well as foreign lawyers who earn a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in the United States as opposed to a Juris Doctor (JD).
Academics on the task force said the new requirements will force law schools to change their curriculum to include more emphasis on putting legal concepts into practice. “You shouldn’t underestimate what change this is going to bring,” said task force member UC Berkeley School of Law Associate Dean Charles D. Weisselberg, who developed the school’s clinical education program.
The American Bar Association is also moving toward requiring six units of practical training. Courses that qualify for the ABA practical skills requirement would also satisfy California’s mandate. The plan will include a description of the types of coursework that would qualify for the competency skills credit. The plan should be detailed enough to make it clear what is expected, but not so strict that it wouldn’t give law schools the flexibility to be creative, Streeter said. “The innovation is going to come from the law schools,” he said. “It will be a trust but verify model, just like MCLE compliance.”
Although some law schools have expressed concern about the cost of complying with the new requirements, the task force heard from a Washington University School of Law professor who said there is no statistical link between the quantity of clinical courses at law schools and the cost of tuition.
The task force is scheduled to meet again July 28.
Task Force Hears Call for Strong Measures for Legal Services
By Rex Bossert Staff Writer
Judge Jonathan Lippman - Photo courtesy of New York State Office of Court Administration
Addressing the severe shortage of legal services for the poor requires strong measures such as pro bono requirements for lawyers and new kinds of legal service providers, according to New York and Washington state officials.
Jonathan Lippman, chief judge of the State of New York, told a State Bar task force on May 28 that his state’s judiciary has taken the lead in establishing innovative ways to increase legal aid for poor and low-income people who can’t afford a lawyer.
“Legal services for the poor is not tangential to what we do, it is what we do,” Lippman said to the Civil Justice Strategies Task Force.
Speaking by webcast, Lippman described several programs created in New York to help poor and working-class families. These include implementing a 50-hour pro bono requirement for members of the New York bar, increasing state funding for legal service providers, allowing law students to take the bar exam early and authorizing a new category of legal “navigators” to help low-income people with housing, consumer credit and other issues.
New York and California are among the first states to require lawyers to perform pro bono work, Lippman said. He said law students and young lawyers especially have embraced the 50-hour requirement because they are entering the profession to help others. He added that if New York and California provide the example, “the rest of the country will follow.”
Lippman also said that over the past few years, the New York Legislature has increased the judiciary’s budget for grants to legal service providers from $27.5 million to $70 million. Economics experts have shown that for every dollar spent for legal services for the poor in New York, $6 has been returned to the state’s economy, he said. “It’s good for the bottom line of our state for its financial well-being and heath,” Lippman said. Starting next year, Lippman said, third-year law students will be able to take the New York bar exam in February and spend the rest of the year providing legal services in clinical programs supervised by law schools.
Drawing much attention from task force members was New York’s unique legal navigators program, which allows specially trained counselors to accompany unrepresented clients to court for advice and moral support on simple matters such as consumer credit disputes. Lippman said the program is “going very well” after the judiciary established administrative rules and training for both the navigators and the judges in whose courts they appear. He also addressed possible objections by lawyers to the potential for increased competition from non-lawyers. “We’re not taking bread out of anyone’s mouths,” Lippman said.
While New York court officials pursued a strategy of establishing the navigator practice first, then developing the regulatory framework that will soon govern it, Washington state officials first spent years crafting rules for legal service technicians and are now implementing a two-year training program.
Stephen Crossland, a solo practitioner and former Washington state bar president, described to the task force the creation of the state’s Limited License Legal Technician program, which will issue its first licenses next year. Authorized by the Washington Supreme Court, the legal technicians will receive training at three state law schools and 29 community colleges to provide counseling for people with family law issues who cannot afford a lawyer.
Unlike their New York counterparts, Washington’s legal technicians will help clients prepare their paperwork and cases, but will not go to court. Crossland said officials eventually hope to broaden the program to focus on landlord-tenant, elder and immigration law. Eighteen months ago, Crossland said, a 13-member board reporting to the Supreme Court was established to create an exam and oversee licensing, discipline and continuing education of legal technicians. “It’s a whole new bar association,” said Crossland, who serves as the board’s chief.
Also speaking to the task force was Veyom Bahl of the anti-poverty organization Robin Hood, who described his group’s funding of the new Immigrant Justice Corps. Modeled after the Peace Corps, the Immigrant Justice Corps will provide fellowships for recent college and law school graduates to work with nonprofit groups to help low-income people with immigration issues.
Margaret Hagen, a student fellow at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, told the task force about new online strategies to provide low-cost legal services with input from the consumers themselves. Colin Rule, founder and Chief Operating Officer of Modria, a new online dispute resolution firm, described to the task force how his company’s Internet-based technology grew out of efforts to handle millions of low-value consumer disputes for eBay and PayPal.
For more information, see the task force web page.
June 2014 - Spring Issue
Updated Legal Guide for Teens Now Available
Contact: Laura Ernde, 415-538-2283, firstname.lastname@example.org
An updated version of The State Bar of California’s free “When You Turn 18: A Survival Guide for Teenagers,” is now available for ordering. Produced by the bar’s Office of Communications, "When You Turn 18” explains the legal rights and responsibilities that come with the transition into adulthood. The 16-page color tabloid covers topics such as voting, identity theft prevention and drug and alcohol laws. The guide was produced with the help of a $50,000 grant from the California Bar Foundation. A Spanish translation will be available later in the year. The guide is one in a series of popular consumer publications that the bar has produced since 2001. The others are “Seniors & the Law: A Guide for Maturing Californians” and “Kids & the Law: An A-to-Z Guide for Parents.” The guides are free and may be ordered in bulk at no charge through an online ordering system. Those who do not have access to the Internet may call 1-888-875-LAWS to order. Donations are gladly accepted to help cover shipping costs. Checks may be mailed to The State Bar of California, Office of Communications – Consumer Education Donations, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105.
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act
The Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88–352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964) is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (known as "public accommodations"). Powers given to enforce the act were initially weak, but were supplemented during later years. Congress asserted its authority to legislate under several different parts of the United States Constitution, principally its power to regulate interstate commerce under Article One (section 8), its duty to guarantee all citizens equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment and its duty to protect voting rights under the Fifteenth Amendment. The Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Attorney General Holder’s Commencement Speech at Morgan State University
"...discrimination does not always come in the form of a hateful epithet or a Jim Crow-like statute. And so we must continue to take account of racial inequality, especially in its less obvious forms, and actively discuss ways to combat it. As Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote recently in an insightful dissent in the Michigan college admissions case – we must not “wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society. … The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race.”
See transcript of full speech HERE.
The “Civil Rights at 50”campaign is led by the Equal Justice Society, a national civil rights organization heightening consciousness on race in the law and popular discourse. EJS is working to fully restore the constitutional protections of the Fourteenth Amendment by replacing the Intent Doctrine with a Disparate Impact standard that addresses contemporary forms of racism.http://equaljusticesociety.org
COAF Celebrates the Civil Rights Act During State Bar Annual Meeting
COAF will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act with programming during the State Bar Annual Meeting in San Diego. The Diversity Stakeholder Forum will be held on Saturday, September 13, 2014, 2; 15 to 3:45 pm and will focus on the history and content of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and implications for civil rights today. The featured panel presentation will be moderated by Hon. Karen Clopton (COAF Vice Chair) and will feature Dolores Huerta (human rights activist and immigrant rights icon), Phyllis Cheng (Director, DFEH), Mr. Dana LaMon (Disability Rights Advocate), and Rick Zbur (incoming Director, Equality California). The Diversity Awards Reception will be held on Saturday, September 13th, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye will provide remarks and Ms. Huerta will be the keynote speaker. Recipients of the State Bar diversity and education pipeline awards will be acknowledged. Registration at the Annual Meeting is not required to attend the reception. For more information contact Brandi Holmes at 415-538-2587 or Brandi.Holmes@calbar.ca.gov. RSVP’s can be emailed to email@example.com.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month
U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy
Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. The theme for 2013 is "Because We Are EQUAL to the Task." NDEAM's roots go back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to "National Disability Employment Awareness Month." Upon its establishment in 2001, ODEP assumed responsibility for NDEAM and has worked to expand its reach and scope ever since.
Disability Employment Awareness Month Timeline/Facts and Figures
California Court Rule 1.100 - Accommodations for persons with disabilities
Rule 1.100 of the California Rules of Court states: “It is the policy of the courts of this state to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal and full access to the judicial system.” Under this rule, any person who has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment may request an accommodation. The rule covers all individuals appearing in court including attorneys, parties, witnesses, jurors, and members of the public. According to the rule, access can mean physical accommodation to go into and move about buildings and use accessible restrooms. Access can also mean full participation in the court’s programs, services, and activities, with the assistance of technology or other services. To provide both kinds of access, courts in California are responsible for providing reasonable accommodations to court users.
Accommodations can be provided in a variety of ways. Because people and disabilities are unique, the courts and persons with disabilities must interactively discuss each person’s individual needs and the effective accommodations that the court can provide.
For Rule See: http://www.courts.ca.gov/cms/rules/index.cfm?title=one&linkid=rule1_100
For Public Brochure see: http://www.lake.courts.ca.gov/files/Brochureforcourtusers.pdf
“Consciously Overcoming Unconscious Biases Against Lawyers with Disabilities”
By Paula Perlman, Executive Director, Disability Rights Legal Center
(This article originally appeared in the IILP Review 2012: The State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession. It is reprinted with permission from the author and the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession.)
Many employers of lawyers are reluctant to hire, promote, or retain people with disabilities. Lawyers with disabilities face a multitude of implicit biases for a variety of reasons, most based on misconceptions and misperceptions about people with disabilities. Pearlman discusses two sources of power to actively change socially-constructed beliefs that perpetuate implicit biases against lawyers with disabilities.
Special thanks to Shawn Kravich, Associate Director of the Cancer Legal Resource Center for his assistance with this article.
While listening to a panel discussion about federal employment opportunities at the 6th Annual Conference of the National Association of Law Students with Disabilities, I was struck by the enthusiasm of the students at the prospect of employment as a lawyer, and their simultaneous apprehension about whether they will be denied employment due to their disability. While their excitement is encouraging, some of their fears may be legitimate: the contemporary recession resulted in the highest rates of unemployment since 1983.1 In addition, since the recession began—across disability types—both Federal and private sector employees and applicants with disabilities have faced disproportionately increasing rates of job termination and rejection upon application.2
From March 2010 to March 2012, the number of working people with disabilities dropped from 19.4% to 17.1%, while the number of working people without disabilities has increased from 63.2% to 63.7%.3 Even now, as the economy begins to improve, people with disabilities are facing the opposite trend in employment than the workforce population without disabilities in both the Federal and private sector. Unfortunately, however, discrimination against employees with disabilities is not unique to the current recession. At every economic downturn, people with disabilities are often the first fired and last hired.4
The history of discrimination against people with disabilities in the United States is long and well-documented, particularly in the employment context.5 Data suggest that since the establishment of the ADA in 1990, some people with disabilities have experienced less discrimination and greater accommodation on the job than before the ADA; however, other groups of people with disabilities have had no apparent increases in hiring or job retention.6 Research indicates that many employers are reluctant to hire, promote, or retain people with disabilities based on implicit biases that employers—and indeed all people—possess against various populations of people with disabilities, indicating a systemic undervaluing of applicants and employees with disabilities.7 Even with equally-rated work qualifications, applicants and employees with disabilities receive less favorable hire recommendations than those without disabilities, across the board.8 Both private and public sector employers still largely maintain negative attitudes toward hiring persons with mental and/or emotional disabilities in particular,9 because many employers believe that people with disabilities present a risk of poor attendance and productivity,10 while other employers are concerned about these individuals’ ability to interact with other employees.11 Because of these misconceptions about people with disabilities employers are more likely to choose to hire applicants without disabilities, even when that applicant may be less qualified for a position than their counterpart with a disability.12
Several years ago, disability advocates developed exercises to highlight these types of unconscious biases that operate against people with disabilities in and out of the employment context. For one exercise, “Pick a Disability,” the audience is instructed to select what they perceive to be the most preferred and least preferred disability of a list of five (e.g., blindness, deafness, paraplegia, depression, and epilepsy). A discussion ensues with audience-members explaining their selections in a comfortable, non-threatening environment that encourages people to come forth with their ideas so that biases can gently be exposed. In most circumstances, the selections are based on personal experiences, for instance, an audience member may share that they have a cousin who was blind or a friend who is deaf. In addition, these selections are based upon socially constructed assumptions that surround a particular disability; for example, in this discussion many people reveal that they associate “blindness” with a total darkness. However, when this point is made by a member of the audience, the facilitator has the opportunity to explain that there is a vast spectrum to the concept of “blindness” and that most people who are blind experience excessive light—not darkness. In addition, the facilitator can then explain the various types of assistive technologies available to people who are blind, such as screen-readable format software. In this way, an explicit discussion can expose the unconscious biases associated with various disabilities and provide new information to challenge and deconstruct these previously unquestioned conceptions.13
Unconscious biases are particularly insidious—indeed, more dangerous than explicit prejudices—because they result from “automatic processes, which often (but not necessarily always) escape conscious detection.”14 In order to effectively combat these biases, we must explicitly bring them to light and work, collectively, to create new social constructions to replace the old. One way of targeting biases against people with disabilities is to focus on the language that we use on a daily basis. The disability rights community started an initiative to use “People First Language”, focusing on the person and not the disability, i.e. “a person who uses a wheelchair” as opposed to an outdated description, “wheelchair bound.” By putting “people first”, we intentionally work to reframe the concept of identity—to place a larger value on the person, the individual, than on the disability itself.
As lawyers and as employers, we have two sources of power to actively change the socially-constructed beliefs that perpetuate implicit biases against people with disabilities. By hiring, accommodating, and promoting job applicants and employees with disabilities and by pushing ourselves to deconstruct and replace our own internal, outdated frameworks for looking at what it means to have a disability, we can effectively change the legal and employment landscape to offer an inclusive, productive environment for the next generation of qualified, eager people.
1 In 2010, the unemployment rate reached 9.6%: the highest rate since 1983. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Status of the Civilian Noninstitutional Population, 1940 to Date((2011), available at http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat1.pdf. Back
2 See generally, H. Stephen Kaye, The Impact of the 2007-09 Recession on Workers with Disabilities, Monthly Labor Rev, October 2010 at 29, 30. Back
3 Figures from March 2010 to March 2011. Employment Status of the Civilian Population by Sex, Age, and Disability Status, Not Seasonally Adjusted (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics) March 2011, available at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t06.htm. Back
4 See, e.g., Laura Trupin, Douglas S. Sebesta, Edward Yelin, and Mitchell P. LaPlante, Trends in Labor Force Participation Among Persons with Disabilities, 1983-94 (U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, 1997.). Back
5 See, e.g., H.R. Rep. No. 485(II), 101st Cong., 2d Sess. 31-32 (1990), reprinted in 1990 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 267, 313 (quoting testimony before the House Subcommittee on Select Education and Employment Opportunities). Back
6 Gina A. Livermore & Nanette Goodman, A Review of Recent Evaluation Efforts Associated with Programs and Policies Designed to Promote the Employment of Adults with Disabilities 23 (Cornell University) (2009). Back
7 See National Council on Disability,Empowerment for Americans with Disabilities: Breaking Barriers to Careers and Full Employment 73 (2007). Back
9 Scheid, T.L., “Stigma as a Barrier to Employment: Mental Disability and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 28(6), 670-690 (2005); Unger; infra. at note 10. See generally, EEOC Commission Meeting of March 15, 2011, Employment of People with Mental Disabilities, http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/3-15-11/index.cfm (“The greatest barrier to employment for people with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities is employers’ myths and fears about their condition, not the disabilities themselves.”). Back
10 Unger, D.D., “Employers' Attitudes Toward Persons with Disabilities in the Workforce: Myths or Realities?,” Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 17(1), 2-10 (2002). Back
12 See National Council on Disability,Empowerment for Americans with Disabilities: Breaking Barriers to Careers and Full Employment 75 (2007). Back
14 Jody David Armour, Negrophobia and Reasonable Racism: The Hidden Costs of Being Black in America (1997) at 145. Back
January 2014 Winter Issue -- Happy New Year!
Read an excerpt from The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Right Movement (Simon & Schuster, 2013) by Taylor Branch
[Reprinted from the Religion & Ethics Newsweekly website on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.]
“The Time Has Come for This Nation to Fulfill Its Promises”
[On Tuesday, June 11, 1963], as President Kennedy and the Attorney General anxiously awaited the outcome of the school segregation showdown with Alabama Governor [George] Wallace, a telegram came in from Martin Luther King on the “beastly conduct of law enforcement officers at Danville.” Asserting once again that “the Negro’s endurance may be at the breaking point,” King implored the Administration to seek a “just and moral” solution…There was a rougher, public message from King on the front page of The New York Times…[which] quoted his plea that, above all, President Kennedy must begin speaking of race as a moral issue, in term “we seldom if ever hear” from the White House.
Given his recent sensitivity to King’s opinions, these urgings may have influenced President Kennedy’s extraordinary decision to make what amounted to an extemporaneous civil rights address on national television. The causes were uncertain because the notion of a speech came so suddenly from the President himself, without a trace of the usual gestation within the government. When he startled his advisers on Tuesday with the thought that he might announce his civil rights legislation on television that night, no one liked the idea…There was no speech draft. There had been no consultations with Congress or anyone else on what the President planned to say. To make a naked dash that very night on so sensitive an issue seemed like the worst sort of presidential whim, but Kennedy refused to let it go….Toward six o’clock that evening, President Kennedy ordered fifteen minutes of network time at eight. He gave speechwriter Ted Sorensen some general ideas and some scraps he like from Negro aide Louis Martin, then sent him off to write a speech within two hours.
Minutes before eight, Sorensen came into the Cabinet Room with a draft that President Kennedy found workable but stiff. He began tinkering to add paragraphs of fervor and rhetoric, dictating to Evelyn Lincoln while Sorensen cross-dictated to Gloria Liftman. They retyped pages and fragments, inserting them here or there in the stack as opinions changed in the mad fit of purpose. [Burke Marshall] was aghast with the realization that there would be no finished text—that the leader of the free world was about to ad-lib on national television—but as the seconds ticked away the President was at his best, wired both hot and cool. “Come on now, Burke,” he prompted. “You must have some ideas.”
The President’s first peroration before the cameras was a bit awkward, on the refrain “it ought to be possible,” but then he broke through with a sketch from Louis Martin contrasting the life chances of two newborn American babies, one white and one Negro. “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue,” he declared. “It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.”
These words brushed along a religious course that was starkly out of character for the worldly President. Their flow transformed even his approach to the global struggle:
We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it. And we cherish our freedom here at home. But are we to say to the world—and much more importantly, to each other—that this is the land of the free, except for Negroes, that we have no second-class citizens, except Negroes, that we have no class or caste system, no ghettos, no master race, except with respect to Negroes?
Now the time has come for this nation to fulfill its promise. The events in Birmingham and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality that no city or state or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them…We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and a people…A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all.
Kennedy wandered on and off his text, outlining his forthcoming legislation. He kept inserting parenthetical phrases signaling that race was no longer an issue of external charity or deflection: “We owe them, and we owe ourselves, a better country.” When he ran out of text, he coasted unevenly to the end. By then, it didn’t matter.
In Atlanta, King drafted an instant response, with errors characteristic of his own uncertain typing and spelling. “I have just listened to your speech to the nation,” he wrote. “It was one of the most eloquent[,] profound and unequiv[oc]al pleas for Justice and the Freedom of all men ever made by any President. You spoke passionately to the moral issues involved in the integration struggle.” An equally excited Stanley Levison [King’s closest white friend and adviser] called King that night to say that President Kennedy had done “what you have been asking him to do.” To Levison, the historic speech underscored the importance of their decision to make Congress, not President Kennedy, the focus of the Washington demonstration.
In Jackson, [Mississippi], all three [Medgar] Evers children, including toddler Van Dyke, tumbled in their parents’ bed, arguing over which television program to watch. Their mother had allowed them to stay up past midnight to find out what their father thought of the President’s wonderful speech, and they all rushed for the door when they hear his car. Medgar Evers was returning from a glum strategy session. All but nine of the seven hundred Jackson demonstrators were out of jail. Local white officials were claiming victory untainted by concession. Both the white and Negro press portrayed the Jackson movement as shrunken, listless, riddled by dissension. Privately, Evers had asked for permission to invite Martin Luther King to join forces, but his NAACP bosses ignored the heretical idea. Finally home, Evers stepped out of his Oldsmobile carrying a stack of NAACP sweatshirts stenciled “Jim Crow Must Go,” which had made poor sales items in Mississippi’s sweltering June. His own white dress shirt made a perfect target for the killer waiting in a fragrant stand of honeysuckle across the street. One loud crack sent a bullet from a .30-’06 deer rifle exploding through his back, out the front of his chest, and on through his living room window to spend itself against the kitchen refrigerator. True to their rigorous training in civil rights preparedness, the four people inside dived to the floor like soldiers in a foxhole, but when no more shots came, they all ran outside to find him lying face-down near the door. “Please Daddy, please get up!” cried the children, and then everything fell away to blood-smeared, primal hysteria. The victim said nothing until neighbors and police hoisted the mess of him onto a mattress and into a station wagon. “Sit me up!” he ordered sharply, then “Turn me loose!” These were the last words of Medgar Evers, who was pronounced dead an hour later.
The Evers murder came at the midpoint of a ten-week period after the Birmingham settlement when statisticians counted 758 racial demonstrations and 14,733 arrests in 186 American cities. Two men demanding integration chained themselves to the gallery of the Ohio legislature. An Alabama mob stoned the home of a white preacher who suggested that Negroes be allowed to worship in his church….Like Kennedy’s speech, the murder of Medgar Evers changed the language of race in American mass culture overnight. The killing was called an assassination rather than a lynching, Evers a martyr rather than a random victim—recognized as such with a post-funeral cortege by train to Washington and a family audience of condolence at the White House.
Articles from the October 2013 - Annual Meeting Issue
Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors.They have not been adopted or endorsed by the State Bar Board of Trustees and do not necessarily constitute the official position of the State Bar of California.
Celebration of 50th Anniversary of "I Have a Dream" Speech
On Martin Luther King Day, Remembering the First Draft of "I Have a Dream"
From the Washington Post WP Opinions, By Clarence B. Jones, Sunday, January 16, 2011
It was the late spring of 1963, and my friend Martin was exhausted. The campaign to integrate the public facilities in Birmingham had been successful but also tremendously taxing. In its aftermath, he wanted nothing more than to take Coretta and the children away for a vacation and forget - forget the looming book deadline, the office politics of his ever-growing Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the constant need to raise funds.
But a date for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom had been nailed down - Aug. 28 - and Martin realized he couldn't plan such a massive undertaking with the usual endless interruptions. No, if this march were going to come together in time, he would have to escape all the distractions. (This was a man, after all, whose best writing was done inside a jail cell.) He needed to get away to a place where very few people could reach him.
That would be my house in Riverdale, N.Y.
For the previous three years, I had been an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr., his personal lawyer and one of his speechwriters. Stanley Levison, another adviser who had done even more work with Martin on his speeches than I had, was also a New Yorker. Because of some dark ops on the part of the FBI, Martin could not deal directly with Stanley, yet he very much valued his advice, so it made sense for Martin to stay at my home and have me act as a go-between as we planned the March on Washington - and the speech Martin would deliver.
The logistical preparations for the march were so burdensome that the speech was not a priority for us. Early in the summer, Martin asked some trusted colleagues at the SCLC for their thoughts on his address, and during his weeks in New York, we had discussions about it. But it wasn't until mid-August that Martin had Stanley and I work up a draft. And though I had that material with me when I arrived at the Willard Hotel in Washington for a meeting on the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 27, Martin still didn't know what he was going to say.
We met in the lobby rather than in a suite, under the assumption that the lobby would be harder to wiretap. Tables, chairs and plants acted as a cordon of privacy. It was with this odd start, hiding in plain sight, that 12 hours before the March on Washington began, Martin gathered with a small group of advisers to hammer out the themes of his speech.
He had reacted well to the material Stanley and I had prepared, but he also knew that many of the march's supporters and organizers - labor unions, religious groups, community organizations and academic leaders - needed to be heard as well. So that evening he had a cross-section of advisers present to fill any blind spots. Cleveland Robinson, Walter Fauntroy, Bernard Lee, Ralph Abernathy, Lawrence Reddick and I joined him, along with Wyatt Walker and Bayard Rustin, who were in and out of our deliberations.
As we ate sandwiches, our suggestions tumbled out. Everyone, it seemed, had a different take. Cleve, Lawrence and I saw the speech as an opportunity to stake an ideological and political marker in the debate over civil rights and segregation. Others were more inclined for Martin to deliver a sort of church sermon, steeped in parables and Bible quotes. Some, however, worried that biblical language would obfuscate the real message - reform of the legal system. And still others wanted Martin to direct his remarks to the students, black and white, who would be marching that day.
Martin got frustrated trying to keep everything straight, so he asked me to take notes. I quickly realized that putting together these various concepts into a single address would be difficult. Martin would have to take one approach - his own - with the other ideas somehow supporting his larger vision. I kept on taking notes, wondering how someone would turn all this into a cohesive speech. As it turned out, that would be my task.
Eventually, Martin looked to me and said, "Clarence, why don't you excuse yourself and go upstairs. You can summarize the points made here and return with an outline."
I sat in my room, flipping through the scrawled pages of the yellow legal pad, struggling to boil down everyone's perspectives. The idea of urging the crowd to take specific actions, as opposed to a general kind of complaining, seemed one area of agreement. (The march's organizing manual even had a headline that spelled it out: "What We Demand.")
A conversation that I'd had during the Birmingham campaign with then-New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller inspired an opening analogy: African Americans marching to Washington to redeem a promissory note or a check for justice. From there, a proposed draft took shape.
And the words "I have a dream" were nowhere in it.
About an hour later, I took my writing back to the lobby and began presenting it to the group. Immediately the others interrupted:
"What about - "
"Why didn't you - "
"I thought we agreed - "
They were all over me. And given the fact that several were Baptist preachers, there was no small amount of grandstanding. I began defending myself, but Martin intervened. "Okay, brothers," he said, "thank you so much everybody for your suggestions and input. . . . I am now going upstairs to my room to counsel with my Lord."
He walked quietly toward the elevators, leaving the rest of us to look at each other. "Tomorrow, then," someone said, and we dispersed.
Tomorrow, as history would record, turned out to be an enormous success. The weather and the massive crowd were in sync - both calm and warm for the March on Washington. Even the D.C. Metropolitan Police, which had been bracing for a race riot, had nothing to complain about.
I remember when it was all over but the final act. As I stood some 50 feet behind the lectern, march Chairman A. Philip Randolph introduced Martin, to wild applause, as "the moral leader of our nation." And I still didn't know how Martin had pulled the speech together after our meeting.
After Martin greeted the people assembled, he began his speech, and I was shocked when these words quickly rolled out:
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check.
Martin was essentially reciting the opening suggestions I'd handed in the night before. This was strange, given the way he usually worked over the material Stanley and I provided. When he finished the promissory note analogy, he paused. And in that breach, something unexpected, historic and largely unheralded happened. Martin's favorite gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson, who had performed earlier in the day, called to him from nearby: "Tell 'em about the dream, Martin, tell 'em about the dream!"
Martin clutched the speaker's lectern and seemed to reset. I watched him push the text of his prepared remarks to one side. I knew this performance had just been given over to the spirit of the moment. I leaned over and said to the person next to me, "These people out there today don't know it yet, but they're about ready to go to church."
What could possibly motivate a man standing before a crowd of hundreds of thousands, with television cameras beaming his every move and a cluster of microphones tracing his every word, to abandon the prepared text of his speech and begin riffing on a theme that he had used previously without generating much enthusiasm from listeners?
Before our eyes, he transformed himself into the superb, third-generation Baptist preacher that he was, and he spoke those words that in retrospect feel destined to ring out that day:
I have a dream . . .
In front of all those people, cameras, and microphones, Martin winged it. But then, no one I've ever met could improvise better.
The speech went on to depart drastically from the draft I'd delivered, and I'll be the first to tell you that America is the better for it. As I look back on my version, I realize that nearly any confident public speaker could have held the crowd's attention with it. But a different man could not have delivered "I Have a Dream."
Some believe, though the facts are otherwise, that Martin was such a superlative writer that he never needed others to draft material for him. I understand that belief; fate made Martin a martyr and a unique American myth - and myths stand alone. But admitting that even this unequaled writer had people helping him hardly takes anything away. People like Stanley, Mahalia and I helped him maximize his brilliance. If not, why would Mahalia interrupt a planned address? She wasn't unhappy with the material he was reading - she just wanted him to preach.
That he did. You only have to hear the recording of even a handful of the words from his speech and, for the rest of your life, when you read it you will hear his signature cadence. Can you hear it now?
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!
The crowd was rapt. Tears of joy fell everywhere. And when Martin ended with a cried refrain from a spiritual that predated the Emancipation Proclamation, the sense of history - past and future - struck me full force:
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
More than 40 years later, I was invited to visit Stanford University's Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute as a candidate for an academic post. I met with the director, who knew I had just started work on a book about Martin and wanted to convince me that I should write it there. To demonstrate the wealth of the institute's research materials, he had me choose a date from the years I had worked with Martin.
I offered Aug. 28, 1963.
One of the staffers soon brought in a cardboard box with papers related to that day. Among them was a copy of the program that had been handed out at the march. At the time, no one could possibly understand the emotional impact this had on me. It was the standard program except for one corner, where it bore a handwritten note to Martin - from me.
"Dear Martin - just learned that Dr. W.E.B. Dubois died last night in Ghana. Someone should make note of this fact."
I was looking at a copy of my own program, something I'd urgently written on and passed through the crowd to Martin up on the dais. Tears welled in my eyes as I imagined its long journey from my hand to the institute's files. I felt Martin, my friend, reaching out and saying to me, "Keep our dream alive."
That is what this country does every January on Martin Luther King Day. I am hopeful that sometime soon, it will be what we do every day of the year.
Adapted from "Behind the Dream" by Clarence B. Jones and Stuart Connelly. Copyright 2011 by the authors and reprinted by permission of Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited.
Clarence B. Jones, a scholar in residence at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, is a co-author, with Stuart Connelly, of the new book "Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech That Transformed a Nation," from which this essay is adapted. Reprinted with permission of the author.
The Dream Lives on as the California Partnership Academies Celebrate with Essays Inspired by MLK's "I have a Dream" Speech
Contributed by Eric Duvernay, Member, Council on Access & Fairness
To honor and recognize the achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including the concept of fairness and change he visualized years ago, the Council on Access & Fairness Early Education Committee established a "I Have a Dream" essay contest among the original six California Partnership Law Academies created in partnership with the California Department of Education. This year's topic had students discuss the significance of the 1963 March on Washington, and a speech that awoke a nation to the need to end racial discrimination and guarantee justice, equality and civil rights for all. The essay contest coincided with Black History month and the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech."
In a friendly essay competition among regional high schools, students were asked to reflect on this memorable speech. As part of their assignment, they were asked to envision a conversation about social justice and fairness among Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., President Obama, Rosa Parks and Hilary Clinton. In their essays, the students were to imagine what these historical figures would say to one another, and whether what they said, encouraged them to enter the legal field or become a catalyst for change
Essays were submitted from students from the California Partnership Academies in the following school districts: Los Angeles (Wilson High School); Long Beach (Cabrillo High School); Elk Grove (Florin High School); Sacramento (McClatchy High School), San Diego (Crawford High School), and West Contra Costa (De Anza High School) and were reviewed by the Early Education Committee. The criteria included comprehension of issues covered, organization, conclusions, creativity and writing. All students who submitted essays received COAF certificates of participation. Monetary scholarships for the selected writers were donated in honor of Iola and Bill Martin
When the essay competition was discussed, it was the hope of COAF Early Education Committee member, the Honorable Trina Thompson, of Alameda County, that the essays be moving and allow us to be introduced to the attorneys, judges and leaders of tomorrow. She further hoped that the essays would give a modern texture to a speech that has moved a nation, and allow us to walk through history through the voices of high school students
The Committee read numerous essays that presented a range of views of how far we've come toward the goal of racial equality, and selected three essays for acknowledgement at a Diversity Awards Reception held during The State Bar of California 86th Annual Meeting, on October 12, 2013, in San Jose, California, 5:30 to 7:30 PM at the Downtown Marriott Hotel, Salon III and IV.
The Council on Access & Fairness and the Early Education Committee would like to congratulate all of the participants, and especially would like to recognize the following students, their schools and teachers. In First Place: "Change for Fairness" by Darlin Yon, 11th Grade, from Crawford High School Law Academy, San Diego, Teacher: Mrs. Sadler. In Second Place: "In Loving Memory of the Dream" by Jamie Naea, 10th Grade, from Cabrillo High School Law Academy, Long Beach, Teacher Ms. Doten. and, in Third Place: "Courageous Leaders" by Jean Chairez, 11th Grade, from Wilson High School Law Academy, Los Angeles, Teacher Mr. Roura.
Diversity Stakeholder Forum: "The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Diversity in the Legal Profession"
Saturday, October 12, 2013, 2:30 to 4:00 PM, San Jose Convention Center, Room 210A
Diversity Stakeholder Forum, The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Diversity in the Legal Profession. Speakers will include Dr. Clarence B. Jones (Counsel and speech writer for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dale Minami (Minami Tamaki, LLP), Eva J. Paterson (Equal Justice Society), Jennifer C. Pizer (Lambda Legal), Thomas A. Saenz (MALDEF); and Hon. Cynthia Loo (COAF Vice-Chair and Moderator) (EOB MCLE credit or registrants – all others welcomed to attend)
Diversity Awards Reception: featuring Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Dr. Clarence B. Jones (Counsel and speechwriter for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Saturday, October 12, 2013, 5:30 to 7:30 PM, San Jose, Downtown Marriott Hotel, Salon III and IV, Diversity Awards Reception featuring remarks from Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Dr. Clarence B. Jones (counsel and speech writer for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.).
Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye
Lee to Receive ABA's "Spirit of Excellence Award" in Chicago
Contributed by Ruthe Ashley, CEO, Diversity Matters
Patricia Lee, Special Assistant for Diversity and Bar Relations and Director of the Office of Access & Fairness Programs at the bar, will receive the Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association's Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession at its midyear meeting on February 8, 2014, in Chicago.
The "Spirit of Excellence" Award celebrates the efforts and accomplishments of lawyers who work to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. Awards are presented to lawyers who excel in their professional settings; who personify excellence on the national, state, or local level; and who have demonstrated a commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession. Pat has personified the purpose of the award from the beginning of her legal career as a VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America through AmeriCorps) attorney and as the managing attorney in the Mission and Chinatown offices of the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance. Pat's commitment to provide equal access to justice for the poor and disadvantaged certainly strongly impacted communities of color in her early career and continues to this day.
In a state that is assumed to be more diverse than others, Pat has worked tirelessly to make that assumption in California true. During the last decade, Pat was instrumental in creating and structuring important diversity initiatives of the State Bar of California. As the Director of the State Bar's Office of Legal Services, she ensured the State Bar's commitment to equal access to justice for low and moderate income persons and diversity and elimination of bias issues for the legal profession. In 2005, the Diversity Pipeline Taskforce was created to compile a list of "best practices" in diversity and inclusion programs throughout the United States from pre-school to the profession. Pat worked closely with the chair of that committee to bring the idea and structure to life. This project led to the institutionalizing of the Task Force's work by the creation of the Council on Access and Fairness, which serves as the State Bar's diversity pipeline think tank. As chairs come and go after one year stints, Pat has nurtured and grown this important council to be a vital part of the State Bar's work on diversity and inclusion.
Pat, all of us congratulate you on your selection for this prestigious award. It is well-deserved and long past due.
COAF Creating Community College Pathway to Law School
Contributed by Maurice Destouet, Member, Council on Access & Fairness
The COAF Community College Pathway to Law School Committee has had a very active year and is moving forward to completion of its goal of creating articulation agreements connecting four law schools and four undergraduate institutions to a diversity pipeline to community colleges.
The California Bar Foundation has supported the project through a grant for a consultant to work with the committee on curriculum requirements and creation of a final agreement that will be shared with the participating schools for further feedback.
The committee met with and is working through the various issues that the designated law and undergraduate schools have regarding the articulation program and anticipates finalizing the participation of these schools -- USC, UC Davis, UC Irvine and Santa Clara -- by having them signed onto the MOU by the end of the year. The committee is also reaching out to community colleges with a Letter of Interest which will be disseminated in September 2013 to identify twenty community colleges for participation in the project. The project will be presented during the Community College League of California Convention on November 22nd with selected community colleges announced in January 2014. The project will be rolled out and formally announced in February 2014.
SCOTUS Decisions and Other Civil Rights Cases
John Lewis and Others React to the Supreme Court's Voting Rights Act Ruling
The Washington Post, WP Opinions, Published June 25
To clarify, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the central tenet of which is a formula to determine which jurisdictions should be subject to the conditions of Section 5. That aspect of the legislation, which is still in effect and will be until 2031, requires that proposed voting changes in selected jurisdictions be pre-cleared by the U.S. attorney general or the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia to ensure that the suggested changes have neither the purpose, nor the effect, of discrimination based on race or color.
In 2009, the Supreme Court gave Congress the opportunity in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder to revise the provisions of the Voting Rights Act that had been reauthorized in 2006. Yet neither Congress nor the Obama administration acted.
African Americans and Hispanics routinely win elections in majority-white districts in Texas, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and other states. If Congress finds factual data showing that disenfranchisement of minorities is occurring in jurisdictions throughout the country, it can and should create new directives to deal with this injustice.
Now that the Supreme Court has closed down the pre-clearance process, enforcement of the Voting Rights Act will require the Justice Department to take individual cases to court. By any measure, the case-by-case approach will be long, arduous and unsatisfactory. An enormous commitment of new resources will be required to enforce the Voting Rights Act. It's not likely to happen.
Democratic representative from Georgia
The Supreme Court has stuck a dagger into the heart of the Voting Rights Act. Although the court did not deny that voter discrimination still exists, it gutted the most powerful tool this nation has ever had to stop discriminatory voting practices from becoming law. Those justices were never beaten or jailed for trying to register to vote. They have no friends who gave their lives for the right to vote. I want to say to them, Come and walk in my shoes.
I disagree that because the incidence of voter discrimination is not as "pervasive, widespread or rampant" as it was in 1965 that the contemporary problems are not a valid basis for scrutiny. In a democracy, one act of voter discrimination should be too much. It took nearly 100 years, from 1865 to 1965, for effective voting rights legislation to be passed. The advances of the Reconstruction period -- when some freed slaves were elected to Congress -- were erased in a few short years, and for decades this nation turned a blind eye to some of the worst and most brutal violations of human and civil rights.
Also, the purpose of the Voting Rights Act is not to increase the numbers of minority voters or elected officials. That is a byproduct of its effectiveness. The purpose of the act is to stop discriminatory practices from becoming law. There are more black elected officials in Mississippi today not because attempts to discriminate against voters ceased but because the Voting Rights Act kept those attempts from becoming law. Just hours after the court's decision was announced Thursday, Texas said it would immediately implement the same voter ID law declared illegal by the Justice Department.
We do not want to go back. We must move forward. I think it is very encouraging that some members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, have indicated a willingness to fix this problem. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are already meeting. I call upon my colleagues to join in a bipartisan fashion as we did in 2006 and find a way to protect access to the ballot box for all Americans.
Visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; author of "The Unintended Consequences of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act"; director of the Project on Fair Representation, an Alexandria-based not-for-profit legal defense foundation that provided counsel to Shelby County
The Supreme Court's decision to strike down Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act restores a fundamental constitutional order that America's laws must apply uniformly to each state and jurisdiction. All 50 states are entitled to equal dignity and sovereignty under the law.
While the Voting Rights Act was "a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been known on the battlefield," as President Lyndon B. Johnson put it at the time of its adoption, the court's decision Tuesday acknowledges that the South is an altogether different place than it was in 1965. The affected jurisdictions should no longer be punished by the federal government for conditions that existed more than 40 years ago. The ruling represents a recognition by the Court of the enormous improvements in minority electoral opportunities in the states covered by the law. It also underscores Congress's failure to modernize the law in light of all these positive changes.
GREGORY B. CRAIG
White House counsel from January 2009 to January 2010
The full magnitude of the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder has yet to be understood, but it is deeply troubling. The inevitable impact will be to weaken voters' rights at a time when election-driven efforts to suppress those rights in certain populations -- for partisan political gain -- have increased exponentially. It will be more difficult to prevent states from discriminating against voters on the basis of race. State legislators will be encouraged to see what they can get away with, and race-based incidents of discrimination will increase.
This decision resurrects the discarded proposition that states' rights are more important than individual rights and that federal efforts to protect citizens' rights should defer to the sovereignty of the states. The struggle between states' rights and individual rights -- and the proper role of the federal government in that struggle -- predates the Civil War. The issue has been deeply divisive and, on occasion, violent. I fear that the language in this decision -- and its result -- will reopen that wound. What was once a bipartisan consensus, achieved after many years of pain and struggle, is no longer. We can add voting rights to the list of polarizing issues that will divide Congress.
This decision is also an assault on Congress. The 14th and 15th Amendments explicitly entrust Congress -- not the judiciary or the executive -- with the power to protect Americans from being denied the right to vote "because of race, color or previous condition of servitude." In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that "When confronting the most constitutionally invidious form of discrimination and the most fundamental right in our democratic system, Congress's power to act is at its height."
But the court showed no deference, despite the fact that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Mich.) had said, when the Voting Rights Act of 2007 was passed, that his committee had engaged in "one of the most extensive considerations of any piece of legislation that the United States Congress has dealt with in the 27 ½ years" he had served in the House. The votes in Congress were not close: 98 to 0 in the Senate; 390 to 33 in the House. This is an example of the least democratic branch of government substituting its opinion for the most democratic branch -- perhaps the single greatest example of legislating from the bench in my lifetime.
RICHARD H. PILDES
Professor at New York University School of Law
In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the first temptation of some will be to try to tweak the Voting Rights Act's coverage formula to get an updated version through the eye of the court's needle. Voting rights advocates should recognize that dramatically different models are available for protecting the right to vote.
The model embodied in Sections 4 and 5 was powerfully effective in its time but has inherent limitations today: It requires a law that can identify in advance which areas are likely to generate improper barriers to political participation. This was easy in 1965, given the history of literacy tests, poll taxes, etc. -- and even in 1972, the last time Section 4's coverage was updated -- but is far more difficult now. Going forward, voting restrictions are likely to emerge where partisan competition is greatest and elections are expected to turn on small margins -- and that will vary by election. In the 2012 presidential contest, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Florida, Virginia or New Mexico might have been targeted. In 2016, it might be Wisconsin, Texas or Michigan.
Sections 4 and 5 were also designed to deal with changes to existing voting laws. Even if we could accurately predict the most troubled jurisdictions, staying within this model only gets at voting changes that have a racial purpose or effect.
An alternative would protect the right to vote in national and universal terms, as is the case of more recent legislation such as the Help America Vote Act and the National Voter Registration Act. Such laws would be designed to eliminate unnecessary and unjustifiable barriers to political participation in general. Legislation could require states to show that voting rules rest on legitimate purposes and are no more restrictive of access than necessary to serve those purposes. Congress has ample powers to enact such laws for national elections, and legislation of this sort need not be limited to changes in voting laws -- barriers to voter registration, for example, remain a major problem -- or to changes that involve racial discrimination. National laws of this sort might be the most effective way today to protect the rights of all voters, including minority voters.
CHARLES J. OGLETREE JR.
Professor at Harvard Law School; founding and executive director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School.
The decision in Shelby County v. Holder has my father, a native of Alabama, turning in his grave. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 made this critical right accessible to all citizens.
With its deeply misguided decision to invalidate the formula used to identify states and jurisdictions requiring pre-clearance approval, five justices have chosen to rip out what Rep. John Lewis has called the "heart and soul" of the Voting Rights Act. The result is a patient gasping for breath. In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg summed up the illogic of this decision brilliantly: "Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."
This decision moves us backward at a time when voting rights are being threatened at a level we haven't witnessed in decades -- indeed, since before the Voting Rights Act was passed. Granted, those seeking to disenfranchise "undesirable" voters no longer use literacy tests. Their strategies are more sophisticated now, but their intent is all too familiar. As a rapidly growing number of states impose new restrictions on voting, we can see that voter suppression is alive and well. Consider, for example, the photo identification requirements that have passed in 20 state legislatures since 2003. Ostensibly designed to prevent in-person "voter fraud" (which research has shown is practically nonexistent), these laws make it harder for members of minority groups -- youth, the poor, women, the elderly or anyone who does not possess a government-issued photo identification -- to vote. Who are they kidding? All but one of these laws were passed by Republican legislatures and signed by Republican governors. A few legislators privately admitted the obvious: these laws are designed to keep certain voters away from the ballot box. To limit the long-term damage of this decision, Congress must move swiftly to update the legislation's formula so that the heart of the Voting Rights Act can be restored.
What to Make of Fisher v. Texas: An Interesting Punt on Affirmative Action?
By Richard Lempert , June 25, 2013, 12:00am
Supreme Court junkies need their own Edward Snowden or Bradley Manning for a window into the actions behind the action in Fisher v. Texas, the affirmative action case decided Monday.
Court watchers and those on both sides of the issue had their own guesses about the likely result in the case. Many thought or feared that the case would end with a 5-3 decision (Justice Kagan had recused herself) that signaled the end of affirmative action in higher education. They expected Justice Kennedy to side with those who think affirmative action is unconstitutional, coming down off the perch, from which he never quite saw the 14th Amendment as barring all consideration of race in all circumstances but also never saw an affirmative action program he liked. Justice Kennedy might also have maintained his views of the 14th Amendment, but written an opinion holding that the Amendment required scrutiny stricter than any affirmative action program could realistically meet.
It was also conceivable that the Court, per Kennedy, would hold that because the University of Texas had been able to achieve some racial diversity using its ten percent plan, embellishing the plan with a Grutter-like consideration of race did not meet Grutter's "narrow tailoring" requirement. Others saw the lower court's decision as being affirmed without opinion by an equally divided Court, with Justice Kennedy swinging to the side of the Court's liberals, perhaps because he thought the Grutter precedent upholding affirmative action was too fresh to be overruled or maybe because he was so conflicted as to think that no opinion was better than any opinion one could write.
It was even possible, after last year's health care decision, to imagine Chief Justice Roberts siding with the University, out of respect for precedent and his concern for the institutional legitimacy of the Court, which would have been questioned by critics who could, with justification, say that the only change affecting the Court's position since Grutter was Justice O'Connor's replacement by Justice Alito.
No one, however, expected a 7-1 decision with the lone dissenter being the liberal Justice Ginsburg. About the only prediction Court watchers got right was that if there was an opinion in the case, Justice Kennedy would write it.
The sense that there was more to this case than the opinion that eventually issued is stoked by the opinion's content and its timing. The written opinion is so modest and does so little to resolve the difficult issues one expected the Court to address that it is hard to understand why its announcement was put off until the high drama days at the end of the term. Moreover, only Justice Thomas's concurring opinion reads like an effort that required considerable thought and work. Thus it is easy to imagine the justices trading opinions throughout the many months Fisher was under advisement, with positions shifting until in the end a decision to punt and a barebones opinion were the only conclusions on which a coherent majority could agree. It could, however, be that the long delay was simply an accommodation to Justice Thomas who needed time to get what is in many ways an eloquent concurrence just right, or it might reflect a back and forth tweaking of the opinion, with a line added or subtracted here and a sentence there, to get everybody but Justice Ginsburg to sign on.
It is difficult not to see the decision in Fisher as a punt, for the matter was, in a vernacular so accepted as to almost merit the adjective "literally," kicked back to the Circuit Court. Moreover, the Court notes that in Grutter, unlike Fisher, there was a full trial at the District Court level. The invitation for the Circuit Court to kick the matter down to the lower court for fact-finding is inescapable. Still, there are matters of consequence in the decision.
The first is the narrow outcome: sending the case back so that a lower court can more adequately determine whether there is factual support for the University's claim that it needed race conscious admissions to attain a minimally acceptable level of campus diversity. The clear implication, bolstered by citations to Bakke and Grutter with apparent approval, is that educational diversity is a compelling state interest within the meaning of the 14th Amendment. If only by implication, Justice Kennedy's acceptance of this claim seems less grudging than it has in past cases and is clearer than it was in Grutter.
Particularly important is that the Court decided to remand rather than to reverse even after acknowledging that under the prior Texas plan the University had been able to achieve 4.5% black enrollment and 16.9% Hispanic enrollment. This means that the Court recognizes that an educational institution may require more than a token number of minorities on campus to meet a compelling interest in diversity. Moreover the remand decision indicates that although the Court does not necessarily agree that the data Texas most relied on to justify its return to race-conscious admission (a survey showing that despite the number of minorities on campus, many courses had zero or one minority students) is sufficient justification for its program, by not ruling the evidence insufficient, the Court acknowledges the possibility that data of this sort can demonstrate a compelling state interest.
If this is what liberals got -- along with the continued viability of race-conscious affirmative action -- conservatives do not leave the decision bereft of all solace. In Grutter, Justice O'Connor seemed to say that that the courts should not second guess academic judgments about whether campus diversity was educationally important or about whether race conscious admissions plans like that approved in Grutter were sufficiently narrowly tailored to meet constitutional standards. Thus although Grutter gave lip service to the strict scrutiny standard, it appeared to delegate to university officials considerable discretion to determine not only whether enhanced diversity was needed to meet valid education goals but also to decide what were the narrowest possible means to achieve these goals.
The Fisher Court agreed with Grutter's conclusionthat when it came to the educational value of levels of diversity, the judgments of university officials " based on … expertise and experience" deserved deference, but the Court disavowed any suggestion in Grutter that deference should extend to the determination of whether the means a university used to achieve diversity were sufficiently narrowly tailored. Moreover, the majority faulted the lower courts for beginning with a presumption that university officials had acted in good faith in deciding what was necessary to achieve diversity.
Justice Kennedy explained:
[S]trict scrutiny imposes on the university the ultimate burden of demonstrating, before turning to racial classifications, that available, workable race-neutral alternatives do not suffice. . . .Strict scrutiny does not permit a court to accept a school's assertion that its admissions process uses race in a permissible way without a court giving close analysis to the evidence of how the process works in practice.
It is noteworthy that two of the Court's three participating "liberals," who are presumed to favor affirmative action, signed on to this position. Moreover, in other cases, including cases of so-called benign discrimination, the strict scrutiny test has usually been the death knell for the racial classification under scrutiny. This is unlikely to be true in higher education, given Bakke and Grutter and the Fisher decision to remand rather than reverse, but it does leave an opening for a future Court to gut the Bakke-Grutter-Fisher permission to engage in race conscious admissions without coming right out and reversing the holdings in these cases.
In an era when both left and right complain of judicial activism, Fisher is about as far from an "activist" decision as one can get. Not only did the Court not reach out to overturn Grutter or to condition the constitutionality of affirmative action on meeting standards impossible to achieve, but it also took care to indicate that its decision does not hold that affirmative action plans are constitutional. Rather it said that this case did not raise the question of the constitutionality of affirmative action, and that it was taking the Court's prior judgments in Bakke and Grutter "as given [only] for purposes of deciding this case." No doubt it was this careful confinement of the opinion that motivated Justices Scalia and Thomas to concur in the decision, although in separate opinions both said that they regard race-based affirmative action as unconstitutional.
Justice Thomas's concurrence is interesting for another reason. Many observers, including many who have been deeply involved in the struggle for racial equality, attribute Thomas's longstanding and intransigent opposition to affirmative action to idiosyncratic experiences that affected his psyche, such as the stresses of being an affirmative action beneficiary at Yale Law School (which he almost certainly was) or the traumatic nature of his Supreme Court confirmation, or, if they are even less charitable, to unprincipled opportunism that led him to take advantage of the value conservatives placed on having in their camp a black lawyer who was outspoken in his opposition to affirmative action.
Put differently, attributions of motivations for Thomas's views, at least from the left, tend to be all about him and not at all about the black experience.
Justice Thomas's Fisher concurrence calls this view into question. In it he deftly links arguments made in support of affirmative action with arguments made first to justify segregation, and then to oppose and delay desegregation. However off-base this linkage is (and I think it is far off base), it presents a different portrait of the roots of Justice Thomas's hostility to affirmative action. It is a portrait that suggests the Justice's comparison of his treatment at his confirmation hearings to a lynching was not hypocritical and manipulative but heart-felt, and it explains one of his rare comments from the bench -- his interjection in Virginia v. Black, the 2002 cross-burning case, that "the cross was a symbol of [a] reign of terror" -- and his lone dissent from the opinion in Black which saw cross-burning as protected free speech. Moreover, Justice Thomas's concurrence in Fisher is consistent with his jurisprudential stance on many issues where, more than any other justice, he focuses on the form that words take and their literal meaning to the exclusion of the intent with which they are uttered.
Thus, for Thomas the language in the University of Texas Fisher brief which says, "All aspire for a colorblind society in which race does not matter . . . But in Texas, as in America, ‘our highest aspirations are yet unfulfilled'" is for all intents and purposes no different from the assertion that Kansas made in its brief in Brown v. Board of Education, "We grant that segregation may not be the ethical or political ideal. At the same time we recognize that practical considerations may prevent realization of the ideal." It does not matter that the one statement was made in defense of a program aimed at promoting integration and racial equality and the other in defense of segregation and a status quo of racial inequality. Thomas finds, "no principled distinction between the University's assertion that diversity yields educational benefits and the segregationists' assertion that segregation yielded those same benefits." Whether the one is most likely true while the other was clearly false is of no moment to him. Elevating form above context and intent, a common characteristic of Thomas's opinions, rarely makes for wise judging, but it is not unprincipled.
Some, no matter what their position on affirmative action, might celebrate Fisher for providing a welcome comeuppance to those who argue that when it comes to hot button, ideologically charged issues, the Court's decisions depend not on legal analysis and precedent, no matter what the justices write, but on the ideological commitments of the nine people who hear the case. In Fisher, no mapping of ideology to votes would have predicted the Court'sdivision. Yet Fisher strikes me as an exception that does no more than prove the rule. It is not unreasonable to think that the Court came out where it did because there were four justices who would have found race conscious affirmative action unconstitutional, three justices who would have affirmed the decision below and one justice who found himself in the middle, neither ready to pull the trigger on race conscious affirmative action nor willing to approve of any specific instantiation.
If the Circuit Court remands Fisher to the District Court for trial it may be a while before the case returns to the Supreme Court, if it ever does. Moreover, there does not now seem to be an equivalent challenge to race conscious admissions ready to bubble up in the Court's queue. If before Fisher is heard again or the next case arises, a justice in either committed camp is replaced with a justice with different views, person-based predictions may do far better than they did this time around, and the fate of race conscious admissions may be definitively determined.
Richard O. Lempert is a Visiting Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Foundation and the University of Michigan's Eric Stein Distinguished University Professor of Law and Sociology emeritus. His research focuses on issues related to government bureaucracy, affirmative action and human subjects protection. From June 2008 until July 2011 he served as Chief Scientist and Basic Research Lead in the Human Factors/Behavioral Sciences Division of the Science and Technology Directorate in the Department of Homeland Security, and from June 2002 through May 2006 he took leave from the University of Michigan to serve as the Division Director for the Social and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation.
Editor's Note: As Chair of the University of Michigan Law School's Admissions Committee, Richard Lempert was the principal drafter of the affirmative action policy upheld in Grutter v. Bollinger and a witness for both the University and for student interveners in the trial of that case.
Prop 8 and DOMA
DOMA, Prop 8 rulings leave web of employment benefits laws to untangle
Reprinted from Your ABA, June 2013, http://www.americanbar.org/newsletter/publications/youraba/201309article09.html
The Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8 have left employers and employees with a host of unanswered questions in regards to employee benefits -- and many of these questions do not yet have a clear answer. A panel of legal experts at the Annual Meeting discussed the ramifications of the court decisions for the employment sector and the questions that have arisen, including who qualifies as a spouse and who is eligible for what benefits.
A lot of litigation is already popping up in the wake of the decisions in U.S. v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry, according to Shannon Price Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Although the Windsor ruling struck down Section 3 of DOMA, which had prevented the federal government from extending spousal rights to same-sex couples, states remain free to exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage and are not required to recognize same-sex marriages.
"The big question in the wake of Windsor is will all legally married same-sex couples be eligible for all federal benefits regardless of where those couples live, regardless of whether their state respects their marriage," Minter said. "That's the question on everyone's mind. We don't know the answer yet, but we're pushing very hard for the administration to take a position that, yes, all legally married couples should get all federal benefits." It could be very problematic if federal benefits are not provided to legally married same-sex couples simply because their state has discriminatory laws with regard to marriage, he said. But he added that he is "confident" the administration will work to extend those benefits to all legally married couples.
Minter noted that the question of whether benefits will be extended to couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships is more complicated."That we have much less clarity on, and I'm not sure on how that one's going to go," he said.
Teresa S. Renaker, shareholder at Lewis Feinberg Lee Renaker & Jackson PC in Oakland, Calif., said the distinction between a domestic partner and a spouse and the definition of a spouse will be key issues in determining benefits. She said she is interested to see how "spousal equivalent statuses" will end up being treated in this new context.
Moderator J. Randall Coffey, a partner at Fisher & Phillips LLP in Kansas City, Mo., said there are more than 1,000 federal statutes that reference the term spouse and that with the demise of DOMA, there is no longer a uniform definition of that term for purposes of federal law.
"We don't really know yet exactly what the various federal agencies are going to do in terms of how they interpret that language in each of those statutes," he said.
Laura J. Maechtlen, a partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP in San Francisco, said that while employers wait on guidance from the government on this issue, she advises them to "be careful and be risk averse and don't be the test case."
Minter agreed, saying, "If I were an employer, I would want to be erring on the side of caution."
Renaker said one thing we do know for sure is that the collection of spousal rights in pension plans that are mandated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code now apply to federally recognized same-sex spouses. That includes survivor benefits, consent requirements for beneficiaries other than the spouse and division of benefits on divorce.
"It's really important for plan administrators to be thinking about what does this mean for our plan participants?" Renaker said. She discussed the retroactive effect of recognizing same-sex marriage, saying that since DOMA was never actually valid, a married same-sex spouse could seek to retroactively claim benefits previously denied to them. "It's not often that people get married by operation of law, and that's what has happened here," Renaker said. "All of these rights changed without them doing anything. … They've now got a whole host of rights and obligations under federal law that they didn't have before."
The Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act: What It Means
The Supreme Court's historic ruling striking down Section 3 of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is an enormous victory for loving, married couples and their families, and affirms that they deserve equal treatment under the law. This victory demonstrates the importance of access to marriage, and gives married same-sex couples access to the tangible benefits of the federal safety net, allowing them to better protect one another and their children.
Edie Windsor demonstrated tremendous courage in standing up and speaking out for her 44-year relationship and marriage when she was treated unjustly, and her actions have directly improved the lives of all same-sex couples.
Ending DOMA lifts up all LGBT people, even if it does not end our work. DOMA was an official federal policy disapproving of gay people and same-sex relationships, often imitated by states and private actors, and imposed a second-class status on our lawful marriages by negating them for all federal purposes. The Court has now affirmed that equal protection guarantees apply to the relationships of LGBT people and has replaced federal disrespect with federal respect for our lawful marriages. This victory will energize our work moving forward so that we can achieve a reality in which every single same-sex couple enjoys full and equal protections under the law, regardless of where they live.
For legally married couples living outside of a marriage state or the District of Columbia, there are still many questions about when they will be equally able to share in federal protections, responsibilities, and programs. This is because the federal government typically defers to the states in determining whether a couple's marriage is valid. There is no one rule across all federal agencies. Some agencies look to the law of the state where a couple married regardless of the law of the state where the couple now lives, while others look to the law of the state where the couple is living now.
We think the federal government can and should take action, where necessary, to ensure that married couples in all states have access to the largest number of federal programs. The federal government is already looking at how federal agencies can ensure fair and equal treatment of all married couples where possible. However, at this time, there are a number of important federal benefits that depend on whether your marriage is recognized where you live, so couples who live in states with bans on marriage by same-sex couples should proceed with caution before making the decision to marry.
CAUTION: If you live in a state that discriminates against married same-sex couples, you should be aware that the Supreme Court decision striking down part of the federal so-called Defense of Marriage Act does NOT mean that your state must respect your marriage or that you will be eligible for all marriage-based federal benefits. Further work is still required to end marriage discrimination nationwide and to secure both state and federal equal treatment for all marriages.
The following questions lay out what we know so far.
What does this mean for legally married same-sex couples living in a state that respects their marriage?
Same-sex couples who are legally married and live in a state that respects their marriage should be eligible virtually right away for the same protections, responsibilities, and access to federal programs
look to the state "with the most significant interest" in the marriage, and many have no explicit rule at all.
Some federal programs, including immigration, already use a "place of celebration" standard. This standard best provides certainty, clarity, and stability for couples, their loved ones, employers, government agencies, and others, especially in a society where people regularly move for jobs, family, and many afforded to all other married couples. The federal government may take some additional time to change forms, train staff, and otherwise prepare for this change. We expect further guidance from the federal government and will update this Q&A and the "After DOMA: What it Means For You" LGBT Organization Fact Sheet Series accordingly. For Fact Sheets see http://www.lambdalegal.org/publications/after-doma.
There are more than 1,100 places in federal law where a protection or responsibility is based on marital status. A few key examples include access to Social Security survivors' benefits; the option to use family medical leave to care for a spouse; the opportunity to sponsor a foreign-born spouse for citizenship; and access to veterans' spousal benefits.
What about legally married same-sex couples living in a state that does not respect their marriages?
Legally married same-sex couples living in a state that does not respect their marriages may right away have access to some federal rights and benefits, but not to many others, at least not immediately. Federal agencies have different approaches regarding which state's laws they look to in order to determine if a marriage is valid for federal purposes. Some, including the IRS and Social Security, have looked to the laws of the state where a couple lives (place of domicile/residence). Others, including immigration agencies, look to where a couple got married (place of celebration). Other federal agencies and programs other purposes. Such a standard would simply acknowledge that a couple is married for federal purposes regardless of where the couple lives; it wouldn't tell a state how it must treat married same-sex couples.
For many programs, the administration can take steps to adopt the standard fairest to all married couples: the "place of celebration" standard. Some agencies can use this time-honored legal standard just by changing their practices. Others may have to change regulations, requiring a more lengthy process of proposing new rules and soliciting public comments, or laws. Because the Supreme Court's decision does not require states to recognize the marriage of same-sex couples and does not guarantee that married couples who live in states with marriage bans will receive all of the federal benefits based on marriage, couples who live in these states should proceed with caution before deciding to marry. Depending on your individual circumstances, getting married may be financially or legally detrimental, especially if you are receiving certain government benefits. Couples should seek out individualized legal advice from a knowledgeable attorney before traveling to another place to marry.
Will legally married same-sex couples receive retroactive access to benefits they were previously denied?
It depends on a number of circumstances. As a general matter, if a person is not prohibited by a deadline in the law from seeking benefits, he or she may file an application and seek certain back benefits. However, many benefits start to accrue only with an application, so the date of application will be the starting point. For claims reaching into the past, as with claims for overpaid taxes, there are specific time limits on when refund claims may be brought forward. The "After DOMA: What it Means For You" LGBT Organization Fact Sheet Series addresses many of these questions.
There are many financial benefits that married same-sex couples have missed out on because the federal government did not respect their marriage. But it is likely that the federal government will, in most instances, adopt a forward-looking approach, ensuring that married same-sex couples are respected as married from the day the Court's ruling takes effect.
Is all of DOMA now completely repealed?
No. The Windsor case challenged the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA, the part that discriminatorily excluded married same-sex couples from federal protections, responsibilities, and programs. Section 2 of DOMA, which says that states may discriminate against gay couples legally married in other states, still stands. Legislative action will be needed to remove it, although getting rid of Section 2 will not eliminate discriminatory state marriage laws.
The Respect for Marriage Act, a bill pending in Congress that enjoys bipartisan support and the backing of President Obama, would fully repeal all of DOMA. It would also ensure that all married couples -- including same-sex couples -- enjoy equal rights under federal law. It would not tell states what to do, but would ensure that the federal government treats all marriages with respect.
What are the movement's next steps on DOMA?
The undersigned LGBT organizations are working with others in the Respect for Marriage Coalition to ensure that the greatest number of federal protections, responsibilities, and programs are available to married couples as soon as possible. In some cases, this may require policy and regulatory changes within the agencies, some of which could take time. Further legislative action may also be needed, particularly to get rid of the rest of DOMA. To that end, we will continue to advocate for the Respect for Marriage Act in Congress.
We are committed to working until every single legally married same-sex couple receives the same protections, responsibilities, and programs as all other married couples -- regardless of where they live -- and to securing the freedom to marry nationwide.
Implementation of federal rights, benefits, and protections will vary from state to state and on an individual basis. We encourage you to consult a legal or tax professional to determine the best next steps you can take. This document is intended to provide an educational overview, not to serve as legal advice or a guide for making personal financial decisions.
Reprinted from Lambda Legal LGBT Fact Sheet Series
Stand Your Ground
American Bar Association Examines Stand Your Ground Laws
August 11, 2013, Category: Black Issues, Featured,News, by Lydia Lum
Stanford University's Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt
at the American Bar Association's
public hearing on stand your ground laws.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt initially chuckled at her 5-year-old son's comment that a Black male passenger on their cross-country flight resembled the boy's Stanford University law professor father.
"This man's facial features and complexion were very different from those of my husband," recalled Eberhardt, an associate professor of psychology at Stanford. "He was about four inches shorter, and he had long dreadlocks flowing down his back. My husband is bald." Because the passenger was the only Black man on the plane, Eberhardt dismissed her son's mistake as mere age-appropriate confusion. But his next remark was much more alarming. "He said he hoped the man would not rob the plane," said Eberhardt, whose scholarly research focuses on racial biases. "I asked him why he would say such a thing, because his dad would never rob a plane."
The boy agreed. When Eberhardt pressed him about what sparked the fearful remark about the stranger, her son's expression turned sad. He replied, "I don't know."
Eberhardt shared the troubling anecdote last Friday during a public hearing examining so-called stand your ground laws. The hearing occurred during the six-day annual meeting of the American Bar Association (ABA). Individuals such as Eberhardt discussed reasons why the self-defense laws and doctrines, which currently exist in more than half the U.S. states, unnecessarily and disproportionately jeopardize the lives of people of color, especially Black men.
"In my lab, when we expose people to images of Black people, this seems to facilitate people's ability to see weapons" in the hands of Blacks, even where they don't exist, Eberhardt said, adding, "Stand your ground laws can easily render Blacks vulnerable."
She said her research findings were similar between highly prejudiced people and people of low prejudice. "We live in so much racial stratification, even when there's no racial animus." Because the participants in Eberhardt's studies began thinking about crime at the mere sight of images of Black people, she said, "they were placing Black male faces under surveillance." This was true among not only college students in the studies, but also among police officers, the professor said.
She cited another study in which participants were shown pictures of a White man and Black man in a subway car, the White man holding a razor blade. But when later asked who had held the blade, many respondents mistakenly replied that it was the Black man, suggesting "the association between Blacks and crime was so strong that it can affect a person's memory," Eberhardt said.
The ABA created a national task force to review and analyze stand your ground laws in response to the shooting death in Florida last year of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager. Last month, a jury acquitted former neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Martin's death. The task force has already convened public hearings in Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia, during which academicians, prosecutors, defense attorneys and other stakeholders have offered opinions about the utility of such laws, which do not require individuals to retreat from situations they perceive as dangerous but instead allows them to use deadly force.
The San Francisco hearing was the last in the series, and task force members plan to recommend what policy and viewpoint the ABA ought to adopt regarding these laws. Friday's hearing drew speakers from academia, the local legal community and other areas of the country.
Civil rights attorney Eva Paterson of Oakland cited what she called "galling statistics." In states with stand your ground laws, 17 percent of incidents in which a White person fatally shot a Black person have been ruled "justified" homicides, Paterson said. But when a Black person fatally shot a White person in those states, it was deemed "justified" less than 2 percent of the time. "Stand your ground encourages vigilante law because people can stand, shoot and murder without consequences," she said. "This legalizes a form of lynching of Black people."
National Bar Association president Patricia Rosier summarized the position of her organization, which is the country's oldest and largest association of Black lawyers and judges. "Stand your ground laws have to be repealed or amended," Rosier said. "We view these laws as a license to kill because, if a person feels threatened, it's totally subjective, so how do you quantify that threat? "Furthermore," continued Rosier, "it has never been considered that Trayvon Martin could have ever stood his ground."
Retired judge Arthur L. Burnett Sr. said that tragedies such as the shooting of Martin caused him to revisit police encounters from his youth. Once, as a restaurant busboy cleaning the facility at night, alone, he was confronted by gun-wielding police who suspected him of committing a break-in elsewhere. "Fortunately for me, the first place I was taken to was my supervisor's home, where he vouched for me and said he almost wished I wasn't going to college because he didn't want to lose me," Burnett recalled.
A second, frightening run-in occurred when, as a Howard University undergraduate, he and another fraternity pledge were taken into custody while they were participating in a scavenger hunt, Burnett said. The young men were in a car that Burnett's friend had borrowed but was unable to provide proof of registration when the police requested it. "We were released after many hours in police custody," Burnett said. "The point was, we weren't oppositional when the police confronted us."
In 1969, Burnett became the first African-American in the nation appointed U.S. magistrate. He served two stints within 13 years. He also was the first legal counsel of the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department.
In 1987, Burnett was appointed to the district's Superior Court, where he served for 11 years before taking senior status and hearing cases part-time until fully retiring earlier this year. In academia, Burnett has taught law courses as adjunct faculty at Howard and Catholic universities. He is currently executive director of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition.
At the ABA hearing in San Francisco, Burnett said he doubted he would have lived long enough to have such a career had his demeanor been anything short of deferential and cooperative during those long-ago encounters with police.
So an incident such as Martin's death causes Burnett to wonder, "How much human capital is lost when a person's life is snuffed out?"
From the June 2013 -- Summer Issue
Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors.They have not been adopted or endorsed by the State Bar Board of Trustees and do not necessarily constitute the official position of the State Bar of California.
Celebrating LGBT Pride Month
About LGBT Pride Month
From the Library of Congress:
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the United States the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as "Gay Pride Day," but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation the "day" soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBT Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.
In 1994, a coalition of education-based organizations in the United States designated October as LGBT History Month. In 1995, a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the National Education Association included LGBT History Month within a list of commemorative months.
LGBT History Month is also celebrated with annual month-long observances of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, along with the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. National Coming Out Day (October 11), as well as the first "March on Washington" in 1979, are commemorated in the LGBT community during LGBT History Month.
Executive and Legislative Documents
The Law Library of Congress has compiled guides to commemorative observations, including a comprehensive inventory of the Public Laws, Presidential Proclamations and congressional resolutions related to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.
LGBT Pioneers in California's Legal Profession
Hon. Stephen M. Lachs served as a judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court from 1979 to 1999. He was the first openly gay judge appointed in the United States and is thought to be the first openly gay judge appointed anywhere in the world. From 1975 to 1979, Lachs served as a commissioner of the Los Angeles County Superior Court. In 1979, Lachs received a judicial appointment to the Los Angeles County Superior Court from Jerry Brown, who was beginning his second term as Governor of California. Lachs received a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1960 and an LL.B. from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law in 1963. Lachs retired from the bench on October 3, 1999.
Hon. Mary Morgan served as a judge of the San Francisco Municipal Court from 1981 to 1993. At the time, she was the first openly Lesbian appointed to the bench. In 2003 she was appointed by Governor Gray Davis to the San Francisco County Superior Court . Morgan received a B.A. from Smith College in 1967 and a J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1972. Judge Morgan retired from the bench on March 4, 2011.
Roberta Achtenberg was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, becoming the first openly lesbian or gay public official in the United States whose appointment to a federal position was confirmed by the United States Senate. In 2000, she was appointed to the Board of Trustees of California State University by Governor Gray Davis, becoming chair of the Board in May 2006. On January 26, 2011, President Barack Obama named Achtenberg to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Achtenberg went to UCLA, then transferred to and graduated from University of California, Berkeley. She began law school in San Francisco at University of California, Hastings College of the Law, before transferring to and receiving her Juris Doctorate from the University of Utah.
Sheila Kuehl was elected to the California State Assembly in 1994, becoming the first openly gay person elected to the California legislature. She was later a founding member of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. She served as Speaker pro tempore during the 1997--98 legislative session, becoming the first woman in California history to hold the position. After three terms in the Assembly, she was elected to the California State Senate in 2000, becoming the first openly gay person elected to the Senate. Re-elected in 2004 with 65.7% of the vote, she has repeatedly been voted the "smartest" member of the California Legislature. Kuehl received her BA from UCLA and her JD from Harvard Law School.
Bonnie Dumanis serving as District Attorney of San Diego County, is the first openly gay or lesbian DA in the country. Dumanis has been the District Attorney since 2003, when she defeated incumbent Paul Pfingst. Dumanis, a Republican (though the office she holds is officially nonpartisan). received a BA in sociology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Western State University College of Law (now Thomas Jefferson School of Law) in 1976, and was admitted to the bar in 1977. Following admission, she served as a Deputy District Attorney from 1978 to 1990. In 1994, Dumanis was elected to the Municipal Court and In 1998, was elected to the San Diego Superior Court.
Hon. Victoria Kolakowski is the first openly transgender person to serve as a trial judge in the United States. She was elected with 51% of the vote to her opponent's 48% on November 2, 2010. Prior to her election, Kolakowski served as an administrative law judge with the California Public Utilities Commission for four years. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Natural Sciences from New College of Florida in Sarasota, FL; a Master of Sciences in Biomedical Engineering from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA; and a Master of Sciences in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Orleans, LA. She received a joint Juris Doctor (law) degree and Master of Public Administration (with an emphasis on budget and finance) from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. She also received a Master of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley.
ABA and National LGBT Bar Seeking Submissions for New Publication: "Out and About: The LGBT Experience in the Legal Profession"
The ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) and the National LGBT Bar Association are pleased to announce their joint publication, OUT and ABOUT: The LGBT Experience in the Legal Profession, an edited collection of personal essays, to be published in 2014.
Out and About will share the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ("LGBT") attorneys, academics, and jurists in the profession, through their own words, in an effort to educate the legal profession and the general public about this diverse group, its contributions and its struggles.
The ABA and National LGBT bar are currently seeking submissions. In general, they are looking for personal stories (from 800 to 1200 words in length) on the experiences of the LGBT legal community. The focus of the essays may be as broad or narrow as each author desires, generally discussing when, where, and how she or he has progressed or advanced in his or her career, and, whether/how being LGBT impacted them.
For more information, to recommend a contributor, or to submit your essay for consideration, please contact Robin Rone, SOGI Commission Director, at Robin.Rone@americanbar.org. Interested contributors should also provide a brief biographic statement.
ABA Stonewall Award
For the first time in 2012, an ABA Commission presented the Stonewall Award, that formally honored lawyers who have considerably advanced lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in the legal profession and successfully championed LGBT legal causes. The award is named after the New York City Stonewall Inn police raid and riot of June 28, 1969, which was a turning point in the gay rights movement. May 31st is the deadline for nominations each year. The award is presented every year at the ABA Midyear Meeting. For more information go to Stonewall Award.
Demographics, Timeline, Facts and Figures re: LGBT Attorneys in the U.S.
The National Association for Law Placement (2013) reported the percentage of openly lesbian and gay lawyers in the U.S. increased from 1.88% in 2011 to 2.07% in 2012. These numbers would seem to confirm the "After the JD Report" at NALP (2013), LGBT Representation Up in 2012, NALP Bulletin, January. Retrieved from http://www.nalp.org/lgbt_representation_up_in_2012?s=NALP%20BUlletin%20January%202013ticle.
LGBT Pride Month Timeline and Facts & Figures
See www.DiversityInc.com/diversity-facts for more LGBT Facts and Figures:
The State Bar of California:
- "Creating a Model Work Environment for LGBT Individuals" (brochure)
- "Understanding Transgender Law and Transgender Clients" (brochure)
- "Challenges to Employment and the Practice of Law Facing Attorneys from Diverse Backgrounds"
For copies contact: Patricia Lee, 415-538-2240 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI)
ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, "Best Practices for Promoting LGBT Diversity" (2011). See full report.
The Williams Institute, UCLA Law School
Key Issues For LGBT Attorneys
Witness to History -- Blog Post from U.S. Supreme Court Oral Argument re: California Prop 8
by Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights
This blog post is why inclusion of lesbian, gay and transgender attorneys is so important to the legal profession. Every perspective is instrumental in reaching equal justice for all. Sometimes you just have to sit back and say wow. I am writing this at a desk in our Washington D.C. office, but just a few hours ago, I was sitting in the courtroom of the United States Supreme Court, listening to oral argument in the challenge to California's Proposition 8.
I will get to my impressions of the argument and where I think we might be headed in our Prop 8 saga in a bit. First, though, I want to take a moment just to breathe and acknowledge the history-making nature of this moment. Words that are fully adequate to describe it elude me. I know the words are out there, but they are more likely to be written by historians and scholars, who will look back on these days -- and the months and years of work that led up to them -- as the most catalytic time in the LGBT movement.
I do know that my heart has been racing, my adrenaline pumping, and my stomach flipping since I awoke this morning. Even standing for three hours in near freezing temperatures did nothing to dampen the electricity of this day. Of course, seeing dear colleagues and friends who have been in the trenches of this fight for decades only served to drive home the point: this was a major, unprecedented, almost-beyond-imagining moment. So yes, it bears repeating, WOW.
The argument itself was fascinating. Many others will offer blow-by-blow accounts, so I will just hit some high points here. It appeared right away that a number of the justices are skeptical about whether the proponents of Prop 8 have legal standing -- a legal right -- to be in court at all. If a majority of the justices find that the proponents do not have standing, then the District Court ruling striking down Prop 8 will be the final word -- and same-sex couples will be free to marry in California again.
It is also possible that at least five justices could rule on the merits of Prop 8, finding that it violates the provisions of the federal Constitution, which guarantee that all of us will be treated equally under the law. I think this outcome is less likely than a ruling on standing, but several justices, including Justices Kennedy, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg all asked questions strongly suggesting that they recognize that excluding same-sex couples from the freedom to marry is unsupported by any legal justification.
There were several gripping moments. At one point Justice Sotomayor asked Charles Cooper, counsel for the Prop 8 proponents, if a state would ever have a legitimate reason to use sexual orientation as a basis for denying gay people rights or benefits, aside from marriage? Cooper's response: "I do not have anything to offer you in that regard." In other words: No. This was a damning admission. Of course, Cooper went on to assert that marriage is unique and that permitting same-sex couples to marry would be harmful. Justice Kagan jumped in and asked Cooper to be specific about how allowing same-sex couples to marry would cause harm. Cooper answered that "over time there could be harms." Justice Kagan pressed, "But what is the actual harm? Where is the cause and effect?" Cooper responded by saying that it was "impossible to know, no one could know the long-term implications." Justice Kagan, and several other justices, did not seem persuaded by that non-response.
Undeterred, Cooper pressed the argument that marriage equality would create a "genderless institution" that supposedly would "sever the connection of marriage to procreative purposes." Several of the justices seemed to find this assertion dubious. Justices Kagan, Breyer, and Ginsburg all put forward questions or hypotheticals about couples over 55 or individuals in prison -- all of whom can marry. This exercise showed that the argument that marriage is about ensuring responsible procreation is finally gasping its last, feeble breaths.
In short, the arguments of our opponents at the Supreme Court were every bit as fatuous, empty, and absurd as they ever have been -- and that seemed obvious to at least a majority of this audience of nine. Justice Scalia was irascible and tried at several points to make Cooper's argument for him, which, trust me, is a very bad sign if you are the lawyer being thrown such a lifeline. I am not sure we will ever win over Justices Thomas or Alito. But a majority of the Court made comments that suggested they see same-sex couples through a lens of shared humanity -- if not full equality.
As we head into the argument about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) tomorrow, I end as I began. This is history, we are witnesses, this is our story, and our moment. Take another breath and say it with me: WOW.
Happy LGBT Pride Month, Justice Kennedy, and Welcome to our Petri Dish
by Jenny Pizer, Law and Policy Project Director, Lambda Legal
This may be the most heralded celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ("LGBT") Pride since we started honoring the Stonewall Rebellion in Greenwich Village forty-four years ago. There's been a bright spotlight on the state of LGBT rights all spring thanks to the two marriage-related cases the U.S. Supreme Court heard in late March: Hollingsworth v. Perry, about California's Proposition 8, and Windsor v. USA, about the federal "Defense of Marriage Act." At the same time, there has been non-stop news from Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota, all of which approved marriage equality legislation this spring, and from Illinois, where Governor Quinn calls on the Democratically-controlled House to vote and let him make that state number thirteen. Meanwhile, on the world stage, France, New Zealand and Uruguay have approved marriage for same-sex couples legislatively, and Brazil appears to have done so by court order. That makes the international total 16 or more countries, depending how one counts, with another half-dozen actively considering this step. The trend is undeniable.
Here in the United States, polling consistently shows more than majority support nationally for same-sex couples' freedom to marry. That led Time magazine to proclaim via its April 8, 2013 cover story: "Gay Marriage Already Won. The Supreme Court Hasn't Made Up Its Mind -- But America Has." But this headline doesn't account for the uneven distribution of opinion and the thirty states with voter-approved constitutional amendments excluding same-sex couples from marriage, twenty of which preclude other forms of legal recognition as well. We now have a social and legal divide that yawns wider than ever before between states that treat their LGBT residents as fully equal, and those where discrimination receives an official green light.
To appreciate the impacts on the LGBT community nationally, on LGBT lawyers, and on gay-rights legal practice, consider that the states where same-sex couples can marry are home to roughly a quarter of the LGBT population of the country. Adding the seven states with civil unions or broad domestic partnerships, close to half of the same-sex couples in the U.S. have access to comprehensive protections for their families. But more than half of the U.S. LGBT population lives in states not only without family protections but also without explicit statutory protections against being fired or losing their homes due to others' prejudice. This means that roughly two million LGBT Americans live with daily vulnerabilities that many of their co-workers and neighbors would find shocking if they understood.
The disconnect between the relative security offered in some states and the overt hostility of others can affect LGBT lawyers no matter where we live and practice. Expectations often are set by national news media, debates and entertainment. Many of us who serve LGBT clients have a steady diet of cases arising from the inconsistencies among state laws and uncertainties about whether family relationships and other legal rights will be honored state-to-state. What will the effects be on an employee's benefits if a promotion requires relocation? Will a parent-child relationship be respected if it was based on a presumption in state law rather than an adoption judgment? May a state nondiscrimination law that applies where an employer's headquarters is located bolster protections for employees elsewhere who relied on company equal opportunity policies? The evolving legal landscape provides lots of novel conflict-of-laws questions, even as it causes confusion and stress for many of our clients, and for many of us personally.
Notwithstanding the emerging legal questions, we now have definitive social science answers to many other questions because, in the four decades since Stonewall, LGBT people have been coming out, educating family and friends, and participating in research. The bottom line is clear. There is no correlation between diversity of sexual orientation or gender identity and differences that are material to job performance or other civic contributions or to the need for family law protections. On the other hand, discrimination on these grounds undermines health, impairs job functioning, and stresses family relationships. Consequently, the overwhelming consensus of health professionals and sociologists is that this discrimination should end.
The experts who testified in the Hollingsworth v. Perry trial explained as much. Witnesses before state legislatures have done so as well. And this spring, multiple, authoritative amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in Hollingsworth and Windsor confirmed that the scientific verdict has been in for years.
Thus it was unexpected and frustrating to hear Justice Kennedy, during the Hollingsworth arguments, tell plaintiffs' counsel that the case urged the Court into "uncharted waters" that might take the country over a cliff. He then suggested the case might warrant dismissal as improvidently accepted for review. Justice Alito amplified the note of caution, protesting that plaintiffs' desire to marry proposes expansion of a change newer than cell phones and the Internet, and lamenting their inability to see the future. Justice Scalia voiced concerns about potential "deleterious" effects for America's children, asserting there is "no scientific answer" at this time. Justice Kennedy agreed, saying the science dates back just five years.
In fact, as detailed by the trial experts and high court amici, the research has been underway for more than three decades. And in scores of studies, no credible basis has been found for concluding that having an LGBT parent is per se harmful; at the same time, the research consistently shows that prejudice against a child, or the child's family, due to parental sexual orientation is harmful indeed.
Yet, multiple justices referred to equality for same-sex couples and their dependents as an experiment for which the results are not yet in. Ted Olson, for the plaintiffs, and Solicitor General Verrilli both answered that prior marriage and equal protection cases have not been analyzed this way. But neither gave the forceful rebuttal one might have heard from those who spend more time with same-sex couples and their children. In fact, these waters are well charted. There is no cliff. There is only discrimination, and it should end.
I was raised by research scientists. My siblings and I learned young to check before preheating the oven for biscuits on Sundays in case my father had left Petri dishes with his current experiment incubating overnight. Our parents also taught us early that it usually is impossible to prove a negative; that is, to show a thing could never happen anywhere. Often, science simply says there are no reasonable grounds to expect a thing to happen, and that is a solid basis for proceeding. Sitting in the courtroom during Hollingsworth, I thought back on those early lessons and wondered: Did the justices not read Judge Walker's findings of fact based on the expert evidence? Did they not receive notes on the amicus briefs from our national experts? Might it have made a difference had any of the lawyers arguing that day been openly gay, had a same-sex spouse, and been a parent?
Having Olson and Verrilli arguing for same-sex couples certainly gave invaluable endorsements to the freedom to marry position. And yet, the stigma and prejudice that afflict our community persist in large measure due to our own persistent invisibility. Nothing dispels doubts and stigma like openly gay people. In litigation, that means openly gay lawyers, experts and judges as well as litigants.
This issue isn't new or simple. In 1986, as a student intern at Lambda Legal, I heard discussions about who might best represent Michael Hardwick in his Supreme Court challenge to Georgia's sodomy law. Then, my classmate (now wife) and I traveled to Washington and saw Professor Larry Tribe's dazzling argument. In the end, though, Tribe's eloquence did not persuade Justice Powell that mainstream gay people exist and deserve constitutional respect. Seventeen years later, as a Lambda Legal attorney myself, I had the privilege of watching Paul Smith argue in Lambda's challenge to Texas's similar law. Paul brought both intellectual brilliance and personal identity into Court that day. Were the years of social change, Paul's prior interactions with the justices as an openly gay man, or the remarkable elegance of his advocacy most responsible for the breakthrough achieved in Lawrence v. Texas? Surely, all three contributed.
Now, at the ten-year anniversary of Justice Kennedy's Lawrence decision that vindicated our love, the High Court considers marriage. And despite lines around the courthouse and a courtroom overflowing with openly gay lawyers, law professors and even reporters, it's possible that we remain too unfamiliar to those who do the voting. Worrying while waiting for the decision, I'm that much more grateful for the LGBT attorneys in all areas of law who are open and honest about their lives and families as they practice, teach and serve as judges -- facing risks and yet continuing to educate within our profession, and sometimes reaching those who still see our families and basic civil rights as an experiment.
Importance of Attracting and Retaining Gay Attorneys
Reprinted with Permission of BCG Attorney Search, www.bcgsearch.com
Link to full article http://www.bcgsearch.com/pdf/60599.pdf
Historically, law firms have been conservative environments, and as a result, gay attorneys (which includes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered attorneys) have largely kept their sexual orientations to themselves out of fear of being ostracized, rejected, and discriminated against. Many of us have witnessed or heard of stories in which a very highly regarded attorney's sexual orientation was somehow disclosed (or leaked) to his or her firm, resulting in negative consequences for the attorney.
Some of those consequences may be subtle -- whispers in the hallways, feeling distance from those one once felt close to. Other consequences can be more professionally damaging, such as no longer working with the top attorneys in the firm (if those attorneys are homophobic) or finding that the quality of one's work plummets after the disclosure is made.
While law firms have traditionally been unfriendly to gay attorneys and staff, changing a firm's atmosphere can be done -- and many firms are doing so with great success. While it may not be easy, as discussed in detail below, it is vitally important for firms that want to remain competitive in the marketplace, and there are some concrete steps that firms can take to help create a comfortable working atmosphere for gay attorneys.
Why Firms Should Care about Attracting Gay Attorneys
There is a very simple reason that firms should care about attracting and retaining gay attorneys: to help recruitment and retention of staff. Attrition rates in law firms, especially at the associate level, are at an all-time high, and firms simply cannot afford to lose up to 10% (the estimated percentage of the general population that is gay) of their attorneys because those attorneys do not feel comfortable at their firms. Gay attorneys have always made significant contributions to the law, regardless of whether their peers were aware of their sexual orientation, and in today's incredibly competitive recruiting environment for the top lawyers, firms can only benefit from pulling from a larger pool of attorneys.
Diversity also conveys a loud message that the culture of the law firm is one of inclusion, and as a consequence of this message, the firm is bound to attract the best attorneys from all walks of life. With the competition between firms so high, firms that create an atmosphere where the top gay attorneys as well as their straight counterparts are comfortable practicing law will have an advantage over those that do not place emphasis on this important issue.
Moreover, an employer's acceptance of gay and lesbian attorneys is very important to today's law students and prospective lateral attorneys. In fact, law students and potential laterals often ask questions about a firm's policy toward diversity, including the policies and benefits provided to gay attorneys, even if the prospective employee is not gay. Diversifying the firm's attorneys and providing quality benefits to all attorneys is perceived as the "right" thing to do, and many attorneys are attracted to firms that hire diverse pools of candidates and provide open environments of teamwork and equal opportunity.
Firms are also feeling increased pressure from their clients to increase diversity and provide an atmosphere of inclusion for gay attorneys. Clients often ask for the firm statistics regarding gay and lesbian attorneys, and some gay business owners are more comfortable working with gay attorneys, or at least firms that support gay attorneys.
Below are several guidelines for creating a firm environment that welcomes gay attorneys:
- Create a Firm Environment Where Gay Attorneys Feel Comfortable Being Themselves.
When attorneys are uncomfortable in their professional environment, they are more likely to maintain a level of secrecy between themselves and others, which can foster a negative environment filled with gossip and speculation. If a firm creates an environment where gay attorneys are comfortable disclosing their orientation, they will be more likely to remain at the law firm long-term and attract additional gay attorneys to the firm.
There are a number of ways to create a comfortable environment for gay attorneys. First and foremost, the firm must demand a respectful workplace environment. This means creating and enforcing a no-tolerance policy for discriminating comments or practices, which should include sanctions for those who fail to comply. Additionally, firms should use language of inclusion to create a comfortable environment, including gender-neutral terms such as "significant other" or "partner." Finally, firms should offer diversity and anti-discrimination training which includes sensitivity training toward gay attorneys and staff.
- Report Statistics.
Encourage the firm's attorneys to disclose their status, and report the firm statistics on the annual National Association for Law Placement (NALP) form. These statistics are published on an annual basis in the NALP Directory, which is available for job-hunting law students and laterals.
The NALP Directory is often one of the first places that law students and laterals look for firm statistics. Regardless of their own race or sexual orientation, many of these potential employees are interested in the levels of diversity at firms because, as discussed above, diversity signals an environment of inclusion and openness, something that is very important to young attorneys.
- Create a Firm Website That Highlights the Firm's Efforts to Recruit Diverse Attorneys, Especially Gay Attorneys.
Many law firms that are committed to recruiting gay attorneys have dedicated specific sections of their websites to highlighting their firms' recruiting efforts and their support of gay organizations, including lists of the specific organizations they sponsor and/or participate in. Other firms provide lists of questions that gay attorneys should consider when deciding where to work, focusing on such factors as whether domestic benefits are offered and whether the firm supports and demands an open and affirming environment for its attorneys and employees.
- Provide Benefits for Domestic Partners.
Take a look at the benefit plan for the firm's attorneys and employees, and whenever the word "spouse" is mentioned, "domestic partner" should apply as well. This should include offering health, dental, and other insurance benefits, as well as bereavement or caretaking leave, access to employee assistance programs, survivor benefits to employees' domestic partners, and pension benefits.
Making benefits available for domestic partnerships sends a very strong message to gay attorneys and law students that the firm is committed (especially financially) to the advancement of gay attorneys in law firms and that all attorneys, regardless of sexual orientation, are treated equally.
- Create an Internal Committee to Develop the Firm's Diversity Initiatives.
It is vital for law firms to develop internal committees composed of firm representatives focused exclusively on implementing diversity initiatives. Members of the committee should be representatives of the firm, including diverse attorneys and members of the executive, management, and associate committees. The focus of the group should be on diversity outreach, recruitment, and retention of diverse attorneys.
As part of these efforts, this group may want to participate in gay legal professional associations, such as the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association. Not only will these efforts attract and maintain diverse candidates, but they will also send a message to the firm's attorneys that diversity is an important firm issue.
- During the Recruiting Process, Show Potential Hires That the Firm Is Accepting of All Types of Attorneys.
One way firms are attracting gay attorneys is by making gay candidates feel more comfortable during the recruiting process and letting them know that there are other gay attorneys at the firm. This can be accomplished by bringing diverse attorneys together with recruits to get to know the potential hires and to communicate to them that the firm is committed to attracting and retaining gay attorneys.
Many gay law students still shy away from midsize and large law firms for fear of being mistreated or forced to remain "in the closet." Firms that permit recruits to meet their diverse attorneys, get to know the firm, and see firsthand that the firm is sensitive to different types of people are going to be much more successful in recruiting and retaining gay attorneys. One way to accomplish this is by participating in job fairs designed specifically for gay attorneys. Firms can also participate in pro bono programs focused on providing legal services to the gay community.
- Create an Internal Mentoring Program for the Firm's Attorneys.
Internal mentoring programs help retain and support associates as they develop their careers in law firms. Many firms have formal mentoring programs in which associates are asked to fill out detailed questionnaires about their concerns, practice area foci, and interests, and based on the responses, the associates are paired with partners with similar interests and concerns. This can provide a young gay associate the opportunity to be paired with a more experienced gay attorney who may have dealt with many of the issues and concerns on the mind of the associate. Successful mentoring relationships help associates integrate into the firm and assist them with their professional development.
- Publish Newsletters.
Some of the larger firms with ample resources have begun publishing newsletters on a regular or semi-regular basis that highlight legal issues affecting the gay community and may even identify and/or highlight the firm's openly gay attorneys.
The Good News
The good news with respect to all of this is that many firms are succeeding in attracting and retaining more talented gay attorneys and creating environments in which these attorneys are comfortable "coming out."
According to NALP, the number of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered lawyers increased by more than 50% from 2002 to 2006. Openly gay attorneys now represent about 1.8% of associates and 1.1% of partners in law firms. Moreover, more than 20% of NALP member firms are providing gay and lesbian attorneys the opportunity to self-identify, and in some of the largest cities in the nation, that statistic jumps to almost 40% of NALP member firms.
For example, according to statistics collected by NALP, in 1996 (the first year in which firms were given the opportunity to report their numbers of openly gay attorneys), only 11 out of the 25 largest New York-based law firms reported having any gay attorneys, while in 2003, 24 out of the same 25 firms reported they employed openly gay attorneys. (The 25th firm did not list itself in the NALP Directory that year.)
While it is not easy to change the culture and environment of a law firm, many law firms are showing that it can be done successfully, and those firms are reaping the benefits of their work. They are attracting and retaining the best of the best, regardless of attorneys' sexual orientations.
Articles From the March 2013 -- Spring Issue
A publication of The State Bar of California Council on Access and Fairness
The second issue of our eNews, Achieving Diversity in the Legal Profession, was sent in March 2013 and included these articles.
In this Issue:
Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors.They have not been adopted or endorsed by the State Bar Board of Trustees and do not necessarily constitute the official position of the State Bar of California.
Video Release: "When You Dream -- The Community College Pipeline to Law School"
The Council on Access & Fairness (COAF) has developed a video to encourage community college students to consider a career in law by featuring distinguished judges and lawyers from diverse backgrounds who began their educational careers in community colleges. The video is being made available at all 112 community colleges and can be viewed at on youtube [opens in new window].
Studies show that students starting at community college tend to be just as successful in law school as students who start at four-year institutions. For the past several years, a higher percentage of law school applicants have begun their undergraduate education at community colleges. Hispanic/Latino applicants, in particular, are most likely to have started at community colleges. By 2007 nearly one in four Hispanic/Latino applicants to law school started at a community college. See the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) Report: From Two-year Institutions to Law School [opens in new window] . For these reasons, the COAF is focusing on community college initiatives to enhance the pipeline to the legal profession.
Other projects include the creation of articulation agreements between local community colleges, four-year universities and law schools to facilitate the transition to law school and the creation of teams of community college faculty "champions" on each campus to provide pre-law counseling and resources to students. For more information please contact Maurice Destouet, Member COAF College/Law School Committee, 213-926-2412 or email@example.com.
Celebrating Women's History Month
About Women's History Month
Women's History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as "Women's History Week." Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as "Women's History Week." In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women's History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as "Women's History Month." Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women's History Month. Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as "Women's History Month." From the Law Library of Congress' guide to the legislative history of Women's History Month [opens in new window].
Women Pioneers in the Legal Profession In California
Clara Shortridge Foltz (July 16, 1849 -- September 2, 1934) Foltz was the first woman lawyer admitted to the bar in California (and in fact on the West Coast) having amended a State Bill restricting practice of law to "white males" to allow "persons" to become members of the bar. She was the first woman to attend Hastings College of the Law after filing a lawsuit challenging the law schools admissions policies. Her many other trail-blazing accomplishments included becoming the first female clerk for the State Assembly Judiciary Committee (1880); the first woman appointed to the State Board of Corrections; the first female licensed Notary Public; and the first woman named director of a major bank. In 1910 she was appointed to the LA District Attorneys Office as the first female deputy district attorney in the nation, and, in 1930, was the first woman to run for Governor of California at the age of 81. She was active in the suffrage movement, authoring the Women's Vote Amendment for California in 1911. The Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles was renamed after her in 2002, and is now known as the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
Annie Coker -- Annie Coker was the first African-American woman to be admitted to the practice of law in California. Coker received her law degree from Boalt in 1929 and was admitted to practice in the same year. Coker worked in private practice in Alexandria, Virginia for a time, and then returned to California in 1939, taking a job with the State Office of Legislative Counsel where she worked until she retired in 1966. Coker passed away in 1986.
Kamala Harris, Attorney General, State of California: Harris is the first female, African-American and Indian American attorney general in California, as well as the first ethnic Indian American attorney general in the United States.
Chief Judge Irma E. Gonzalez, United States District Court of California for the Southern District -- On April 10, 1984, when she was appointed a United States Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of California, Gonzalez became the first woman to serve in the Southern District of California. In January 1991, she became the first Latina appointed to the San Diego Superior Court. When appointed on August 12, 1992 by President Bush, she became the first Mexican-American woman to be appointed to the Federal Bench
Justice Kathryn Doi Todd, California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District (Ret.) -- Appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1978 by Governor Jerry Brown, Doi was the first Asian-American woman judge in the country
Victoria Kolakowski, an administrative law judge with the California Public Utilities Commission, was elected Superior Court judge in Alameda County becoming the first transgender person to ever serve as a trial judge in the United States of America.
Key Issues Facing Women Lawyers
The Flexibility Stigma: Work Devotion vs. Family Devotion
By Joan Williams, Mary Blair-Loy and Jennifer Berdahl
More workplaces are embracing flexible work arrangements. However, their usage rates remain low. Well-founded fears of negative career repercussions are said to be the reason for low usage rates. The use of flexibility policies has been shown to result in wage penalties, lower performance evaluations and fewer promotions. In one study of highly qualified professional women, once women went part time, their status fell sharply, as did the quality of their work assignments.
The roots of the ‘flexibility stigma' lies in the belief of making work the central focus of one's life, affects employees who make their caregiving responsibilities salient at work. The use of flexible work arrangements can be interpreted by supervisors and even the employee herself that she is violating the work devotion scheme and is therefore somehow lacking. The work devotion scheme competes with a second moral understanding of a worthwhile life: the ‘family devotion schema', which promises an intimately rewarding and financially secure life for women who dedicate their lives to caring for their families.
The stereotypes that drive the flexibility stigma differ by gender. Being a good father, unlike being a good mother, is not seen as culturally incompatible with being a good worker. Quite the contrary; being a good provider is seen as an integral part of being a good father.
The flexibility stigma also differs significantly by class. The relevant groups in the U.S. workforce are professionals, the poor, and those in the ‘missing middle.' Each group has a number of challenges.
In professional families, men often work very long hours: the typical upper-middle-class man spends 55 hours a week at work or commuting. Many mothers work part time--which in many traditionally- male professions means the 40-hour week that is commonly defined as full time.
While the hours worked were spiraling upwards, so was the time involved in childrearing. In the families of the 1960s, children would return from school only to be sent out to play. By the late 20th century, the same economic anxiety that led to longer working hours had also led to the expectation that parents were to develop every nascent talent in their children to assuage their fear of failing in a winner-take-all society.
When care giving constraints become salient at work, the consequences of the flexibility stigma are:
- The quality of work assignments suffers, which alone can doom a career;
- It becomes difficult to find mentors, which is vital for career progress; and
- There are artificially high penalties associated with taking a career break.
Widespread anecdotal evidence documents professionals literally unable to get a job after they take a year or two off to care for children, despite elite credentials.
The face of work-family conflict among the poor is very different. The key problem, typically, is having too few hours to work. Low-wage jobs have shifted away from the steady job with benefits towards part-time jobs without benefits. Even when only part-time employment is offered, they often insist on full-time work devotion.
Not surprisingly, the scheduling of hourly jobs fits very poorly with low-wage workers' family lives. Two-thirds of low-income families are headed by single parents, who typically rely on a fragile network of family and friends for child care. The interaction of rigid and unstable workplace schedules and low-wage families' heavy burden of family care produces sky-high rates of absenteeism and turnover that are costly to employers. Managers often interpret low-wage workers' high turnover and absenteeism as evidence of irresponsibility.
Families who are neither rich nor poor -- the "missing middle," are those with a median income of $65,000. The rate of stay-at-home motherhood in this group fell as it did among women in professional families, and as likely as professional ones to be two- parent families in which both worked. Yet, unlike professional families, these families cannot afford to purchase services that help juggle work and family responsibilities.
A few middle-income jobs, chiefly unionized ones, have stable career tracks. Like low-wage jobs, they tend to be rigid and highly supervised. Workers in this category face tough choices when a child or elder gets sick, or when a child has a school event. Thus the triggers for the flexibility stigma in the missing middle typically are more similar to those faced by poor families than professional ones.
Despite the increased availability of flexible work arrangements, there is widespread underutilization of these arrangements on the part of workers -- despite a strong desire for such flexibility. It is hoped that further dialogue about the reasons behind the failure of the workplace to successfully adapt to the realities of the workforce will occur. Only by continuing to make these social and cultural forces public can we do something to address them.
Link to full report on UC Hastings College of the Law, Center for Work Life Law
Joan Williams is a Distinguished Professor of Law, UC Hastings Foundation Chair and Director
of the Center for Work Life at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law.
Mary Blair-Loy is an Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies and Founding Director of the Center for Research on Gender in the Professions at the University of California, San Diego.
Jennifer Berdahl is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behaviour at the Rotman School of Management. The paper on which this article is based will appear in the Journal of Social Issues. Rotman faculty research is ranked in the top 10 worldwide by the Financial Times.
Reprinted with permission from the Work Life Law Center, UC Hastings College of the Law.
The Pay Gap -- It's Time to Take it Personally
Contributed by Victoria Pynchon to Forbes
There's Still a Pay Gap Today
According to a recent survey [opens in new window] released by the National Association of Women Lawyers [opens in new window], women attorneys' median pay still trails behind their male peers' at the largest law firms despite negligible differences in billable hours and client lists between male equity partners and their substantially fewer female counterparts.
Speaking to women lawyers across the country, I've been told by equity partners that their pay differentials are as much as 50%.
Sometimes they tell me they don't want to "complain" because they're otherwise "happy" even though they tell me these things with burning indignation and a bitter taste in their mouths.
It always helps to know we're not alone because too often we think we're getting what we deserve.
But if we don't face the facts, we can't fix the problem. In this economy, it's particularly important that we maximize our current income so we can save for retirement, provide our children and grand-children with increasingly expensive educational opportunities, and, pay back our own student loans before it's time to send junior to college.
Why The Gap?
To wage-gap deniers, the recent study shows that the 11 percent delta is not based on any significant disparity in women law partners' billable or total hours or their client lists. And while women associates earn nearly as much as their male peers -- 99 cents on the dollar -- they receive only 40 percent of all bonuses awarded.
It's this bonus number that makes us start slipping in the race for compensation parity.
We don't ask for it. And sure as shootin' no one's going to tell us we're missing out if they can "save the firm a little money."
That's what one managing partner told me when one of my associate attorneys complained that her year end bonus was 30% less than the other associates' bonuses.
"She seemed happy," said my managing partner. "If she wanted more, she should have asked for it."
The Hours Don't Make the Difference
In the NAWL survey [opens in new window], it appeared that male associates had logged an average of 1,841 billable hours while their female counterparts had logged 1,789 billable hours -- a 52-hour difference that would be meaningful only if the difference straddled a minimum for the award of a bonus.
I began supervising associate attorneys in my second year of practice -- giving me a solid 24 years of mentoring. I can tell you without hesitation that women routinely failed to record all of their time because they didn't want to appear to have taken too much time to complete a task or simply believed it shouldn't have taken them "so long."
People who wrote down their time with what everyone referred to as a "heavy hand" tended to be male.
Equity Partners Also Experienced an Hours Gap
With equity partners, women logged 34 more total hours than their male counterparts and 28 fewer billable hours, once again a distinction without a difference unless those 28 hours straddled a minimum hour bonus requirement.
But the survey also noted the continuing shortage of female attorneys in leadership positions, noting that 70 percent of staff attorneys -- not on the partnership track -- were women.
"We are disappointed that women lawyers are still not reaching the highest levels of big firm practice or leadership in significant numbers," NAWL President Beth Kaufman of Schoeman Updike & Kaufman LLP said in a statement Monday.
For the National Association of Women Lawyers Report of the Fifth Annual National Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms go to:
http://nawl.timberlakepublishing.com/files/NAWL%202010%20Final(2).pdf [opens in new window]
Reprinted with permission from Forbes. This article is available online at:
Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms (Executive Summary) --
A Study by the ABA Commission on Women
In 1872, Charlotte E. Ray became the first African-American woman admitted to the bar in the United States. Despite her renowned legal abilities, she had to give up the practice of law because, as a woman of color, she could not attract sufficient clients to stay in business. The legal profession has changed dramatically since Ms. Ray practiced law, although many of the challenges she faced then still confront us today. Almost half of the associates in private law firms are now women and 15% are attorneys of color, but in 2004 only 17% of law partners were women and only 4% were attorneys of color. In 2005, the National Association of Law Placement (NALP) found that 81% of minority female associates had left their law firms within five years of being hired.
Unfortunately, the NALP data tell us only part of a complex story. The report on the ABA Commission on Women's Women of Color Research Initiative seeks to further our understanding of the professional lives of women of color and their experiences in law firms.
The career experiences of women of color in this study differed dramatically from those of their peers and from white male counterparts in particular. Nearly half of women of color but only 3% of white men experienced demeaning comments or harassment. Unlike white men, many women of color felt that they had to disprove negative preconceived notions about their legal abilities and their commitment to their careers.
Nearly two-thirds of the women of color but only 4% of white men were excluded from informal and formal networking opportunities. They felt lonely and deprived of colleagues with whom they could share important career-related information. Women of color had mentors, but their mentors did not ensure that they were integrated into the firm's internal networks, received desirable assignments (especially those that helped them meet required billable hours) or had substantive contacts with clients.
Women of color often became stuck in dead-end assignments, so that as third- and fourth-year associates, their experience lagged behind their white male counterparts, limiting their advancement potential and career trajectories. Forty-four percent of women of color but only 2% of white men reported having been denied desirable assignments.
Forty-three percent of women of color but only 3% of white men had limited access to client development opportunities. Women of color stated that they met with clients only when their race or gender would be advantageous to the firm; they frequently were not given a substantive role in those meetings. This kept them from developing business contacts that they could use to develop a book of clients.
Nearly one-third of women of color but less than 1% of white men felt they received unfair performance evaluations. Sometimes their accomplishments were ignored by the firm or were not as highly rewarded as those of their peers; sometimes their mistakes were exaggerated. Twenty percent of women of color but only 1% of white men felt they were denied promotion opportunities.
In addition to these career hurdles, women of color in the survey and focus groups felt they could not "be themselves"; they downplayed and homogenized their gender and racial/ethnic identities. Some tried to act like the men in their firms, and become "one of the boys." Many complained that they often felt invisible or mistaken for persons of lower status.
Charlotte Ray would surely look at the number of women of color in the legal profession today and see how far the profession has come since she practiced law over a century ago. But, after taking a closer look at the experiences of women of color in the profession she might wonder just how much progress has been made after all.
You can download the full Executive Summary [opens in new window].
For full details on this research study and the ABA Commission on Women's recommendations, please order the full Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms report at www.abanet.org/women [opens in new window].
From Visible Invisibility to Visibly Successful: Success Strategies for Law Firms and Women of Color in Law Firms (Highlights) -- The ABA Commission on Women
The interviews and analyses identified two categories of strategies that need to occur simultaneously in order for law firms to achieve sustained success with women of color: 1) institutional changes in the way law firms are run, and 2) the empowerment of individual women of color to build the support, skills resources, and power to succeed in spite of the barriers that currently exist in law firms. Success strategies for law firms and for women of color were identified as follows:
Success Strategies for Law Firms:
- Grow and sustain active outreach to women of color through the firm's recruiting efforts.
- Develop concrete measurement tools through which progress can be tracked, analyzed, and measured.
- Develop various channels throughout the firm in which inclusive formal and informal networking can occur, and connect the networking activities to foster greater dialogue between persons of varied backgrounds, ethnicities, and races.
- Develop quantitative measures for tracking and analyzing the flow of work within all the practice groups in the firm, and hold leaders of practice groups accountable for ensuring that work is distributed in an equitable and unbiased way.
- Create general categories of skills and knowledge that younger lawyers can use to monitor their own success.
- Build systems of self-advocacy into the attorney evaluation processes, and ensure that attorneys who are evaluating other attorneys are trained to evaluate in an open, effective, and unbiased manner.
- Integrate business development skills-building into all areas of an attorney's development in the firm.
- Develop a succession-planning strategy for the firm that integrates the inclusion of senior associates and junior partners in key firm management committees.
- Create an effective Diversity Committee or similar leadership structure by ensuring meaningful participation by firm leadership, clear strategic planning around diversity issues, and adequate resources to effectively execute the clear strategies.
Success Strategies for Women of Color in Law Firms:
- "Believe in yourself, and do not let anyone shake your belief in yourself."
- "Give excellence. Get success."
- "If you can't find mentors, you have to make mentors."
- "It takes a village to raise a lawyer."
- "Network, network, network."
- "It's all about the book [of business]."
- "Take care of yourself."
- "Show up. Speak up."
You can view the full report [opens in new window].
Reprinted with permission from the ABA Commission on Women.
Articles from the September 2012 Issue
A publication of The State Bar of California Council on Access and Fairness
The inaugural issue of our eNews, Achieving Diversity in the Legal Profession, was sent in September 2012 and included these articles.
Everything You Wanted to Know About Judicial Appointments
Remarks by Associate Justice Carlos Moreno (Ret.) on the Value of Judicial Diversity
Speech by Justice Carlos Moreno (Ret.), Associate Justice, California Supreme Court and Member, State Bar Council on Access & Fairness, at an event at the Los Angeles County Bar Association honoring Judge Sharon Majors-Lewis -- January 21, 2011 Los Angeles.
I want to speak briefly about diversity in the justice system and why I think it is important to the cause of justice and how we, as the public, perceive whether justice is rendered in our courts. While I am going to talk about diversity in terms of race and ethnicity, I also want to focus on diversity of experience and exposure by those who work in the justice system.
We who are judges know that we have an obligation to serve the public interest, to provide equal justice for all, and to render fair decisions based on the law. But, I submit that, only by having a diverse bench can this essential goal be attained. The same applies to all of our justice partners — prosecutors, defense attorneys, court staff, law enforcement, and jury system.
First, I'd like you all to consider whether the decision-making process by judges and the charging decisions made by prosecutors, and verdicts reached by juries ensures that our rulings, verdicts and opinions achieve justice not only today, for the case at hand, but whether those decisions will withstand the test of time to preserve justice, tomorrow when we look back at those earlier events. I am convinced that diversity is an important element in this process, and the experience that comes from increased diversity on the bench, and diversity in the justice system generally, will help ensure that what we do today will withstand the test of time.
First and foremost, diversity serves as a structural safeguard against bias, against invidious discrimination, and prejudice. It ensures a full, a thoughtful, and a balanced deliberation and decision-making process. And like our American jury system of twelve jurors from the community, many with different life experiences and points of view, we feel more confident about their verdict than we would, say, the verdict of a sole judge or a panel of professional jurors. More importantly, it also increases the appearance of justice as well.
Because a significant by-product of diversity in the justice system is a shift in the perception of justice, looking at this as a judge, the important contribution of bench diversity is especially significant at the trial court level, where I served for fifteen years. Public perception of justice has a profound effect on attitudes toward our justice system -- trust and confidence in the system -- and on the ability of the system to serve all communities. In fact, diversity enhances the credibility of an institution, any institution. This is especially true for the judiciary, because how can the public have trust and confidence in an institution charged with protecting the rights of all, if that very institution is segregated? If the communities that institution is supposed to protect are excluded from its ranks? The same is true if people of different races and gender and life experiences are not represented on the jury, court staff, defense counsel and prosecutors.
Even where a case is properly decided, as I am convinced most are, a perception of injustice may exist where a participant's race or ethnicity is not represented on the bench, jury, or by counsel. This perception of injustice is dangerous, because it leads to a lack of trust and confidence, however unmerited, in the legal system. Our legal system persists, and is on the whole respected, because of the trust that society has that it will be treated fairly. A diverse judiciary, and diverse criminal justice system, strives to ensure that whatever the outcome in a case, a party will not perceive that it has been prejudged. The perception of justice not only serves to increase faith in the legal system, but also encourages society to obey the law, and to respect the justice system.
Again, from a judge's perspective, there are other advantages to having diversity especially at the trial court level. A judge who can relate with, or who comes from a similar background as a defendant, is less likely to stereotype; the judge is less likely to write the defendant off as "just another gang banger" or "welfare mom". He or she can better understand a defendant's cultural and family dynamics first hand. Such a judge can have an appreciation of the defendant's education and upbringing, and of the opportunities available, and, more significantly, opportunities denied, due to shared life experiences. I have found that something as little as pronouncing a defendant's name correctly can be very important in the appearance of justice. From the very beginning making such a mistake can be seen as a kind of "put off" or even disrespectful.
These same observations would apply to our justice system partners. There's a great passage in "To Kill a Mockingbird" where Atticus Finch tells his daughter, Scout: " ‘First of all,' he said, ‘if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.' " So having a justice system that is representative of the different backgrounds and experiences enhances the sense of dignity and respect that we want for the process. This is just as important for appearances' sake as it is in maintaining high levels of public trust and confidence in our judicial system.
The same observations can be made about any kind of lawyer and law practice; I think a law firm should have a group of talented lawyers with a wide range of life experiences, drawn from a variety of socio-economic circumstances, immigrant experiences, perhaps a prior career. This can only add to the quality of the decisions made by such a group.
And one's make-up is not frozen in the past. Judges and lawyers should take note of their communities and engage in programs of community outreach. You will get more out of it than you put in. There are many programs I know lawyers are involved with -- Project Lead, Constitutional Rights Foundation, moot court and mock trial teams.
The values that diversity brings to the bench came up with the nomination and confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009. In particular, Sotomayor's statements that a "wise Latina woman" can make "better" decisions brought on allegations ranging from "reverse racism" to "radical multiculturalism." To acknowledge the influence of race, among other demographics (like one's social status, life experience), on one's perspective is not to say that racial sympathies (even if we assume they exist) can or should ever trump a judge's solemn oath to follow the law, as some of Sotomayor's critics alleged. Instead, acknowledgement of race and ethnicity is an important part of recognizing the need to diversify the bench and our justice system in all respects, and at all levels, with individuals whose breadth of life experience and thought actually complements the breadth and scope of cases brought before us who work in the justice system.
There is absolutely nothing about a judge's race or ethnicity that should ever trump a judge's oath to follow the law. Nor should race or ethnicity ever be a consideration in a prosecutor's decision to charge or prosecute a defendant, or to excuse a prospective juror, for that matter. That is paramount. And to promote diversity is not to diminish justice, but rather to enhance justice and overall fairness. When I was a trial judge in the state court across the street, I remember telling prosecutors during jury selection: "In diversity, there is unanimity." I had only a handful of hung juries over many years and hundreds of criminal trials. Too many lawyers base peremptory challenges on time-worn stereotypes rather than individual characteristics.
So, I conclude by emphasizing that diversity in our justice system should be seen not as a way of praising or elevating bias, but as a way of moderating bias, hopefully eliminating bias, as a way of insuring fairness and foreclosing forms of invidious discrimination. So in both the application, and in the perception of justice, diversity ultimately reinforces and strengthens the goal of overall fairness in the law.
I thank you for inviting me to speak to you today and join you in celebrating in honoring Judge Sharon Majors-Lewis as a Champion of Diversity.
The Current State of Judicial Diversity Under the Brown Administration
By Hon. Cynthia Loo, Los Angeles County Superior Court
Despite a vibrantly diverse population, California's judiciary is not. While still early in his administration, however, early appointments by Governor Jerry Brown show remarkable diversity. . Indeed, Brown is poised to make historic changes to the composition of California's bench.
There is much work to be done. The population of California is 40.1% white, while 72.3% of its judiciary is white. Strikingly 37.6% of the population is Latino, yet only 8.2% of the judiciary is Latino. With regard to gender diversity, though recent census figures for California indicate that 50.3% of the population is female, only 31.1% of California's judges are women. This is noteworthy, as data compiled by the American Bar Association reflect that approximately 47% of the students entering law school over the last decade are women.
A sophisticated view of diversity goes beyond ethnic/racial and gender lines and extends to diversity of practice. Widespread belief exists that one needs to be a prosecutor with significant jury trial experience to be appointed. Given data compiled by the Civil Justice Association of California regarding appointments by practice area of the Davis and Schwarzenegger administrations, this is understandable. Both tended to appointment primarily prosecutors, and overlook public defenders / criminal defense attorneys. The Davis administration appointed 30% prosecutors, 1% criminal defense attorneys; Schwarzenegger appointed 39% prosecutors and 4% criminal defense attorneys.
The State Bar's Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation (JNE) is mandated by Government Code section 12011.5(d) in recommending judicial candidates to the governor to consider legal experience broadly, including but not limited to litigation and non-litigation experience, legal work for a nonprofit, experience as a law professor, legal work in dispute resolution, etc. This mandate does not, however, apply to other bodies evaluating judicial applicants such as the Governor's local judicial advisory selection committees or local bar association screening committees.
Barriers to Achieving a Diversified Bench
A 2010 study by the Brennan Justice Center identifies a number of obstacles to judicial diversity. Implicit bias, stereotypes that we all have but are unaware of having, is said to be a primary reason hindering diversity. Numerous studies demonstrate implicit biases alter our behavior, including how we give interviews or hire candidates.
"A Future History of Implicit Social Cognition and the Law" authored bywell-respected expert UCLA Professor Jerry Kang documents the extensive research regarding implicit bias. Studies conclude all people stereotype others unconsciously. Stereotypes arise from ordinary tendencies to make associations and conflicts with conscious attitudes and intentional behaviors. Thus, not withstanding protestations to the contrary, people are generally not blind to demographic characteristics. In numerous studies participants systematically preferred socially privileged groups: men over women, young over old, white over lack, other Peoples over Arab/Muslim, able over disabled, and straight over gay.
As Kang documents implicit biases do predict real world behavior. In an important 1999 study by Steinpreis, Anders and Ritzke, curricula vitae were sent to numerous academicians in the United States. The curricula vitae actually came from a real-life scientist and were identical, but the names were changed to reflect traditional male and female names. Both male and female academicians were significantly more likely to hire a potential male colleague than an equally qualified potential female colleague. Similarly, both sexes reported that the male job applicant had adequate teaching, research and service experience compared to the female job applicant with an identical record.
In a 2004 similar study by Bertrand and Mullainathan, comparable resumes were sent to numerous employers in Boston and Chicago, but used names such as "Emily" or "Greg" to signal whiteness and "Lakisha" and "Jamal" to signal blackness. The simple manipulation of the name produced a 50% difference in callback rates.
It is crucial to not minimize how implicit bias can predict behavior. For a striking example, Joshua Correll's 2002 study addresses how implicit bias predicts the amount of shooter bias-- how much easier it is to shoot African Americans compared to whites in a game simulation. Participants are asked to make one response if the person holds a weapon, and another if holding a harmless object such as a cell phone. Responses differed as a function of race: Both African-American and White participants were quicker to "shoot" an armed black target than an armed white target, but slower to "not shoot" an unarmed black target than an unarmed white target.
Kang suggests it is unduly optimistic to think it is easy to influence bias. Fortunately these biases are malleable. Studies demonstrate exposure to positive examples of a disfavored social category decreased implicit bias significantly. One longitudinal study found women who attended a single-sex university had their average group implicit stereotypes against women decrease to zero. By contrast, a control group of women who attended a co-ed university had increased average implicit bias. Researchers determined it was exposure to female professors and administrators which explained the difference.
New legislation requires JNE Commissioners to complete two hours of bias training. Many believe anyone involved in evaluating judicial applicants -- such as those who advise the Governor as well as local bar association screening committees could benefit from bias training.
Governor Brown's Initial Judicial Appointments Reflect Commitment to Judicial Diversity and Include Many Nontraditional Selections
Governor Brown has appointed a number of "firsts" to the bench including Raquel Marquez, who is Riverside County's first Latina judge; Kathleen O'Leary the first female Presiding Justice of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division Three; Miguel Marquez, first Latino to serve on the Sixth District Court of Appeal; and Halim Dhanidina, first American-Muslim ever appointed in California.
While it is still early in Brown's reign as California's 39th governor, of his 41 initial judicial appointments a significant number of ethnic/racial minorities (42%) have been appointed: 15% African-American, 10% Asian, and 17% Latino. (By way of comparison Schwarzenegger's ethnic appointments include: 8% African-American, 7% Asian and 10% Latino.)
Acknowledging that prosecutors had previously been disproportionately appointed, Brown's Senior Advisor for Policy and Appointments Joshua Groban, emphasized the Governor desires the bench to be diversified in experience and indicated those from nontraditional practice areas will be seriously considered.
Brown's initial appointments confirm this. The comparison between current and past administrations is striking with regard to the appointment of public defenders/criminal defense attorneys. A significant number of appointees (27%) had experience as criminal defense attorneys, with 18% of appointees being defense attorneys at time of appointment. For example, Michael Garcia was a Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California for approximately 18 years prior to becoming a Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner. As previously noted, Schwarzenegger appointed 4% criminal defense attorneys, and Davis 1%.
Other nontraditional appointments occurred with regard to those working in academia and public interest. Brown's appointment of UC Berkeley Goodwin Liu as an Associate Justice to the California Supreme Court surprised many legal analysts. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Brown said he was not concerned Liu never served as a judge; among California's greatest judges was the late Roger Traynor, who was a tax professor at UC Berkeley. In addition, Miguel Marquez, a school board attorney also had not been on the bench prior to his appointment to the Sixth District Court of Appeal.
It is estimated that less than 1% of the prior administrations' judicial appointments had public interest or mediation backgrounds. Prior to working as a partner at Lim Ruger and Kim LLP, Bruce Iwasaki worked as the executive director of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles for almost a decade. Before her appointment to the Los Angeles Superior Court, Michelle Williams Court worked in various capacities including general counsel at Bet Tzedek, a public interest organization committed to serving those in poverty and those victimized by discrimination and civil rights abuses. Another appointee with a nontraditional background is Matthew Guasco, a professional mediator and arbitrator before being appointed to the Ventura County bench.
Brown's initial judicial appointments confirm the governor's commitment to judicial diversity and give hope that those from previously unrepresented groups have the possibility of a judicial appointment. Clearly, efforts to diversify the bench cannot be left to the Governor alone. Widespread agreement exists that an effort to increase diversity is best done by a collaborative, systematic effort. Change comes slowly, but with the inspiration of the Governor's recent appointments, recognition of the value that different voices bring to the judiciary and collaborative efforts led by the minority and women bar associations who must recruit qualified candidates, the goal of a diverse judiciary can be a reality.
Cynthia Loo has been a judicial officer with the LA County Superior Court for the last twelve years. She is the chair of the State Bar of California's Council on Access and Fairness judicial committee the "diversity think tank" that advises on advancing diversity strategies to enhance opportunities and advancement in the law. Cynthia can be reached at CLLoo@LASuperiorCourt.org.
For a checklist of suggestions to assist in completing the online judicial application contact: http://cc.calbar.ca.gov/CommitteesCommissions/Special/CouncilonAccessandFairness.aspx
Navigating Judicial Diversity Under the Brown Administration
By Yolanda JacksonDeputy Executive Director and Diversity Director, Bar Association of San Francisco (This article appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of San Francisco Attorney magazine and is reprinted with permission.)
Josh Groban, senior advisor to the governor in the Judicial Appointments Unit, traveled to The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) from Sacramento on a Thursday evening in January to speak to a crowded room of aspiring judges and bar association representatives about how to get a judicial appointment in the Governor Jerry Brown administration. The evening was presented by BASF's Judicial Mentorship Program.
Groban, before joining the governor's office, served as legal counsel for Governor Brown's 2010 campaign and previously practiced law at Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles. Prior to that, he practiced at Paul, Weiss in New York and also clerked in the Southern District of New York.
Groban was extremely candid, factual, and well received. Here are the nuggets of information he had to share.
The California Judicial Application can be found online at http://gov.ca.gov/s_judicialappointments.php.
Spend the necessary amount of time carefully completing your judicial application. This is an online process and the application is lengthy. Be sure to carefully catalog the major cases that you have worked on. It is recommended that you notify, in advance, those people that you have listed as references. Make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors in your application and be sure to read the instructions thoroughly and follow them closely. Proofread and then proofread again and then let a trusted friend or colleague proofread your final application.
Letters of Recommendation: Be sure to include "thoughtful" letters of recommendation. The ideal number is two to six letters, definitely not thirty or forty letters. They should be from people who really know you, your work ethic, your skills, and your attributes. The reviewers are not impressed by politician or celebrity names if the letters from them don't convey that they "know" you and your professional values. Supplemental materials, such as letters of recommendation, can come in after you submit your packet and will be attached to your application. However, it is best if your letters are submitted early because this administration does its review and thorough vetting of applications before they go to the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation (JNE).
Endorsements: Endorsements from bar associations are very helpful; however, the bar associations should clearly explain the vetting process they went through in recommending you. If the vetting process does not appear to be thorough, then the endorsement is not given much weight.
Governor Brown's Process
Governor Brown appointed a Judicial Appointments Unit instead of a Judicial Appointments Secretary like past governors have done. One unique feature of the unit is that it heavily vets applicants before they go to the JNE Commission, not after, like the prior administration. [get list of members of unit].
The governor's Judicial Appointments Unit pores through every application (including letters of recommendation) that it receives. The unit will make phone calls to the references listed by the applicant and others, and the governor himself will sometimes make phone calls on an applicant. But frankly, not much weight is put on the feedback from these references.
Regarding the infamous Judicial Selection Advisory Committees (JSAC), often referred to as the "secret committees," Groban emphasized that "yes" they are consulted, but they are not kingmakers, and that under the Brown administration these committees do not keep applicants from getting through the process. The main role of these committees is to assist with vetting and reference phone calls.
The governor's office sends a batch of applicants' names to the JNE Commission every three to four months. It also sends names to various county bars for them to vet. Groban stated that the value of the JNE Commission in the process is that it is very thorough, its questionnaire is very helpful, it often has in-person interviews with applicants before the governor's office ever meets the candidates in person, and its feedback from these interviews is instructive and useful. However, Groban emphasized that the governor has the power to appoint judges, not the JNE Commission.
Once the JNE Commission, the JSAC, and county bar associations have vetted the applicants that were originally sent through the process by the governor's office, the governor's office then decides who it will interview.
Governor Brown's Approach
Casting aside typical gatekeeper rules, this governor will appoint candidates who belong to other political parties. There is no candidate that is too young or too old. These criteria are no longer barriers to being appointed. There are certain types of past experience that are not barriers to appointment by this administration. An applicant's past experience can include in-house counsel, transactional work, public defender, or academia. The number of cases an applicant has tried is not an issue with this governor. He will also consider candidates who were previously sent to the JNE Commission under a prior administration, but who were never appointed.
An applicant's ties to more than one county can be a plus, as that candidate will be considered for appointment to the bench in more than one county.
Governor Brown may appoint an applicant to the appellate court without that applicant having first served on the superior court.
What This Governor Is Looking for in Traits and Attributes
Josh Groban was clear in stating that Governor Brown is looking for judicial candidates who have intellectual curiosity. Governor Brown is known to participate in some of the interviews of candidates so that he can personally explore the candidates' undergraduate studies, what the topic of their thesis was, who their favorite authors are, the subjects of scholarly articles they may have written, and what their personal focus was on law review in law school, for example.
He is interested in individuals who are well rounded, interesting, and who have rich life experiences. He learns this by asking questions such as how the candidate is engaged in his or her community and what books the candidate has read lately.
The governor has a "no jerks policy" in that he wants candidates who are known for having a good and judicial temperament. He wants judges who have good values and who are fair. He often views this through the lens of "whether their minds can be changed" on any given topic.
On March 1, 2012, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) released demographic data on the ethnicity, race, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation of California state judges and justices.
The data show an increase in the percentage of female appellate court justices and trial court judges in 2011. Women now represent 31.1 percent of the judiciary, compared to 27.1 percent in 2006, continuing a steady upward trend over the past six years.
Changes over the past six years in the percentage of justices and judges in race and ethnicity categories included Asian up 1.2 percent; Black up 1.3 percent; Hispanic up 1.9 percent; and White down 2.2 percent. These changes reflect judicial retirements and other departures from the bench, new judicial appointments, and an increase in the number of trial court judges who have provided race/ethnicity information.
Since the beginning of his term, Governor Jerry Brown has been very clear that he is interested in appointing a diverse group of judges. He is accomplishing this is by casting aside the gatekeeper rules that have traditionally existed, in part by changing the ways the JNE Commission and JSAC are utilized in the vetting process. Look for future AOC demographic data to reflect the efforts of the Brown administration's work to diversify the California bench.
Yolanda Jackson is the deputy executive director and director of diversity for The Bar Association of San Francisco. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on Twitter at YolandaSFBar.