Politics and Court Picks: Who Should Be Most Concerned?

Conservative pundit Marc A. Thiessen writes in the Washington Post that Chief Justice John Roberts’ health care ruling is just the latest surprise from Supreme Court justices nominated by Republican presidents. Thiessen, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, cites various “liberal” rulings by Roberts, Justice Anthony Kennedy and former Justices David Souter and Sandra Day O’Connor: “Democrats have been virtually flawless in appointing reliable liberals to the court. Yet Republicans, more often than not, appoint justices who vote with the other side on critical decisions.”

Excuse me. Can he spell S-c-a-l-i-a?

Thiessen is saying exactly what one would expect a conservative columnist to say about the judiciary, especially when a decision has gone against them. The right wing has long been on a mission to discredit and destroy the role of the courts as the check and balance the Constitution intends them to be.

At the same time, they often hypocritically propose that the solution is to make the courts even more political by electing judges rather than appointing them.

Sen. Jeff Sessions summed up this point of view, “This ‘Washington-knows-best’ mentality is evident in all branches of government, but is especially troublesome in the judiciary, where unelected judges have twisted the words of our Constitution to advance their own political, economic, and social agendas.”

That conservative drumbeat has convinced many voters that the Court has become increasingly political. Recent polls show that 2/3 of Americans think politics played too great a role in the Supreme Court’s health care ruling.

And indeed politics probably did play a role, as they always have. The Court didn’t expand civil rights to African Americans until it was clear that the American people were becoming more open to it. And at the time (1954) the Court decided Brown v Board of Education declaring that school segregation unconstitutional, conservatives made the same case against the judiciary–saying it was too “political.” They even tried to impeach Chief Justice Earl Warren.

The fact is those “liberal” justices are actually the most “conservative” in the sense of applying the Constitution’s basic premise that liberty and justice applies to everyone, regardless of where we live, or what color or gender we might be.

And Theissen and his conservative buddies ought to be rejoicing that they held four votes against the Affordable Care Act while their usual fifth, Chief Justice Roberts, laid the groundwork to roll back the Constitution’s Commerce Clause and further lean toward states rights in their jurisprudence.

So which side should be more concerned about the Court’s direction after all?

An excerpt of this article ran in the Politico Arena. Here is a link to my response to the Arena question.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Happy July 4! What Madonna Said About Voting and Sex Still True

So here’s the lesson for July 4, Independence Day 2012:

On July 1st, Mississippi legislation that mandates that all abortion providers be registered OBGY-Ns with hospital visiting privileges was to go into effect, because two of the three doctors at the only clinic providing abortion services in Mississippi do not have visiting privileges (undoubtedly yet another consequence of the war on women with abortion as its frontline).

Good news is, the Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization and the Center for Reproductive Rights have filed a suit and temporarily stalled the enactment of the legislation, which has nothing to do with medical necessity and everything to do with using the political process to restrict reproductive sell-determination for the women of Mississippi.

Photo Credit: Madonna dons an American Flag and little else in her 1990 ‘Rock the Vote’ campaign.

 Therefore, the only solution to these assaults on women’s freedom and equal rights is participation in the political process. This to me is what Independence Day celebrations are all about—or should be. And as we enjoy those barbecues and fireworks, remember what Madonna says about voting being as important as sex.

Because as usual, the Material Girl tells it like it is.  As do my great colleagues Molly Dedham and Christine Eads. I’m fortunate to be a “Regular Broad” on their terrific Sirius XM radio show called “Broadminded.” The interview excerpted below is from my first “Broadminded” interview.  We talked about a range of political issues, including the imperative to harness our sister courage—joining with our sisters–as we use our cherished American liberties to influence the policies we want.

Q: Gloria Feldt is an amazing woman, she’s definitely an unbelievable broad. She was the former CEO of Planned Parenthood, she’s a professor of women’s studies. She wrote a book No Excuses: Nine Ways Women Can Change the Way We Think About Power. Gloria, welcome to Broadminded, we’re glad to have you here.

Rutgers Center for Women in Politics said women in politics is going to happen again, the last time it was so ripe and it was this exciting it was 1992. What sets the stage for this coming back?

Gloria: If you remember 2010 was called “the year of the conservative women” and that sort of fizzled. What happened in the 1992 “year of the woman” is an object lesson.

Because that was the year that women were really ticked off…about Supreme Court rulings   that threatened to take away their reproductive rights. They were ticked off about Anita Hill and how she had been treated by the guys in the senate when she said that she had been sexually harassed.

And so women voted in droves and elected a record number of progressive women to Congress.

Well guess what? In 1994 we got the Gingrich revolution.

So the object lesson is that in 1994 women stayed home from the polls in exactly the same numbers that additional women had come out in 1992—and lost many of those seats.

Q: Let’s think about that. You’re saying we’ve got to pay attention to 1992 and you just explained why. So what’s happening here is politics comes in, people come in, and it changes women’s rights. We don’t use our power. Why does it work in 1992? Why does it change in 1994? Now we’re in 2010, so can you kind of speak to that to kind of bring it all to one spot.

Gloria: It’s always easier to get people activated when they’re angry about something specific and you can mobilize that anger. But politics and also advancement in the workplace are things that you have to sustain. People do not give you power. Why should they stand aside? You have to claim the power that you have. And in politics the power of the vote is the first and most important citizen power.

Women don’t run for office in the same numbers men do. I wrote an article in 2008 thinking I was going to be talking about how women were coming to the fore in politics, and that was going to be a year of the women. And everyone was saying it then because Hillary Clinton was supposed to be a slam dunk to become the Democratic nominee, and on track to become the first woman president. Well guess what, that didn’t happen, did it?

Because if women don’t pay attention, then nobody is going to step aside for them. The doors are open, but nobody walks you through them but yourself.

Q: Can we just concentrate one second on voting. It drives me absolutely crazy. A woman who calls herself an advocate, or stands for something but doesn’t do something as simple as go to the polls and vote, cast a vote. I don’t understand that.

Gloria: Right Christine. It’s become easier to do that. You can do early voting, you can find ways to cast your vote.

Q: There is no excuse.

Gloria: There is no excuse. And we need to tell that to our sisters. People are busy. Women have extremely busy lives. And so it is very easy for something to come between you and voting. And also, you hear politicians trying to persuade us that, oh it won’t really make a difference. But it does make a difference.

Q: I want to say too that this is important, you’ve got to be careful about, a lot of women don’t realize how powerful the vote is. So before we start blaming, they’ve got to understand how important it is. I really didn’t figure that out until I was older. I didn’t really get it until I was in my late 20s, maybe early 30s, about voting and how important it is. I had passion about things, I would get mad about things I could definitely point the finger and say, “that’s wrong” but how do you make the difference? And it comes down to the vote, and voting records of the people that you are going to vote for.

Gloria: It comes down to voting not just in the general election, by the way, because most races are determined in the primary, especially state and local races. And even congressional races. They are decided in the primary because most districts are either heavily democratic or republican. So if you don’t cast your vote in the primary, only, at most, 25 percent of the voters do, you have lost your voice.

Q: Remember when Madonna came out with that flag? And she did that campaign about voting? That was in the 90s, and that just went right over my head. I think for most people it did because we were in our 20s, we were thinking about boys and drinking and college and partying. If you think about it, that was a major statement for women back then. It’s also an age thing too, you know so much more, I think, women are getting smarter. Some of the best ages, late 30s and early 40s, we start really coming into our own and understanding power. You’ve studied this so you should know.

Gloria: I’ve studied it and I’ve lived it. One of the things you were just saying made me think about, ‘my vote does count.’ My vote counts but my vote counts more if you and I go vote together and our two votes count yet more if we each take another sister with us.

Q: Look what just happened; you’ve got 6,7, 8,10 people. The three of us, if you took somebody and they took somebody, and that all adds up.

Gloria: It all adds up, that’s right. One of the things that I talk about in No Excuses, one of the nine power tools I share with women, because I didn’t want to blame women for not doing these things, I want to help inspire them and give them the tools to actually do these things. It is the power of the sisterhood. I call it “sister courage.”

Very often women isolate themselves because they are so busy. We’re dealing with our kids, we’re dealing with our work, we’re afraid if we take time off for the kid that we’re going to be treated badly at work. We’re afraid of all kinds of things. So we think we have to solve our own problem ourselves.  We are responsible to deal with our own problems, but if we look around us we will most certainly find at least one other person who shares that issue and who is willing to talk with us and then if we join together and strategize with courage to put the issue out there, we can usually make some change.

Q: And so that’s leadership skills?

Gloria: That’s leadership.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Victory for America as Supreme Court Upholds Affordable HealthCare Act

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act  is a big victory for Obama and a HUGE victory for the American people.

But the most meaningful victory is for the integrity of these United States.

In this ruling (National Federation of Independent Businesses v Sebelius), the Court affirmed our ability as a nation to create policies important to all Americans, policies that make e pluribus truly unum.

While much remains to be sorted out, it is crystal clear that even the very conservative Chief Justice Roberts realized the country could split apart, threatening Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and every other Federal initiative essential to the economy and Constitutional justice if the individual mandate had been thrown out.

Every Supreme Court ruling murks up some legal waters as it clarifies others. The New York Times summarized the rulings key points as follows:

The decision did significantly restrict one major portion of the law: the expansion of Medicaid, the government health-insurance program for low-income and sick people. The ruling gives states some flexibility not to expand their Medicaid programs, without paying the same financial penalties that the law called for.

The debate over health care remains far from over, with Republicans vowing to carry on their fight against the law, which they see as an unaffordable infringement on the rights of individuals. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has promised to undo it if elected.

But the court ruling is a crucial victory for the law that will allow its introduction to continue in the coming years

The center must hold and today it has. Now the president must do what he failed to do  during the health care debate in Congress: educate, inspire, and persuade the American public about the value of universal health care coverage to their lives and to the economy.

There will be much more to discuss about the ruling after a full study of its various elements. But topline meaning is: Obama wins big and so does America.

And P.S. If you think it doesn’t matter whether women hold high level positions, take a look at this photo of who voted for and against your access to health care, and think again.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Is Political Media Coverage Biased Against Women?

When I saw the Politico question “Is political coverage biased against women?” I had one of those “Is the Pope Catholic?” responses.  Remember how Hillary was treated, with all sorts of sexist comments about her cackle, cankles, clothing, and age? Got more examples?

Politico Arena Asks:

A new study of political campaign coverage finds that the media uses considerably more men than women as sources on women’s issues, the Washington Post reports.

Major TV and print news outlets turn to mainly male sources for their take on abortion, Planned Parenthood and other political women’s issues, according to a study by 4th Estate, a group that tracks campaign coverage. On topics including abortion, men were four to seven times more likely than women to be cited as sources, the study shows.

Is this information a sign that the media’s campaign coverage is losing credibility? Or should men be considered equally knowledgeable on such issues?

My Response:

The media forms us as it informs us. When the preponderance of commentators on women’s bodies, rights, lives, health, and pay parity are male, what message does that send to the female 51% of the population?  What message does that send to your daughter? That women are incapable of speaking for themselves? That their voices are less important than men’s even though commentators are pontificating about and lawmakers are passing measures that affect their lives?

The result is that “women’s issues” get framed as less important than the “really important issues” like the economy (hello—contraceptive coverage IS a huge economic issue for women, as I argued with former RNC chair Michael Steele on “Now with Alex Wagner”—and certainly so are economic policies like the Paycheck Fairness Act since women are now half the workplace and often the family’s primary breadwinners).

Check out the Name It Change It website sponsored by the Women’s Media Center, Women’s Campaign Forum She Should Run campaign, and Political Parity to see innumerable examples of sexism in political coverage of women. For the most part this is not deliberate; it stems from the fact that men see the world through their privileged lens, and hardly recognize the sexism they are parroting.

Women are not seeking to keep men from commenting on any issues. Men have opinions; they are impacted by the issues too and no one says they should be shut out of the conversation. But right now, they hold most of the top clout positions in major media companies (97% according to the Annenberg Center at UCLA). Thus it is men who are keeping women out of the story explicitly or implicitly by the hiring and story-line decisions they make.

  •  According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, women accounted for 25% of all creators, executive producers, producers, directors, writers, editors, and directors of photography working on situation comedies, dramas, and reality programs airing on the broadcast networks in the 2010-11 prime-time television season.  Among writers, just 15% were women; of directors, just 11% were women; and of directors of photography, just 4% were women.
  • The same study also found that in 2011, women comprised 18% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.  Women comprised just 5% of directors, 15% of writers, and 4% of cinematographers.

Download the Women’s Media Center full report, The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2012.

The current status of men as the predominant commentators about women is neither fair nor right and it’s time to change it.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Watch for Rovian Tactics

It must have been a slow news day for Arena, but I thought this question was worth answering. Of course, both campaigns will be watching each other like hawks, hoping for gaffes to drop and then making much of them. But you have to admit Karl Rove is the grandmaster of whipping up attacks, whether the information transmitted is true or not.

Could we have a conversation about how to engage voters so they don’t a) get sidetracked from the big issues or b) become cynical and tune out all the noise?

Politico Arena asks:

The Karl Rove-founded Republican group American Crossroads has issued an apology today just hours after suggesting in a tweet that Commerce Secretary John Bryson was drunk when he got into a car accident this weekend.

“How does @CommerceSec have 3 car crashes in 5 minutes and alcohol NOT be involved? ?#Skills,”  the group tweeted early this morning.

“Earlier Bryson tweet with hashtag ?#skills? attempted levity (before facts known) and failed miserably. We took it down and regret the tweet,” the group said on Twitter shortly after 10 a.m.

Were critics of President Obama too hasty in their judgment of Bryson’s accident? What lessons does this incident offer about Twitter?

My Response:

The offending American Crossroads tweet, brought to you by Karl Rove, is important only as a warning of the constancy of their opposition research, the speed with which they are equipped to inflame any issue (remember how effectively they trashed the Democrats for pouring their grief over MN Senator Paul Wellstone’s tragic death before the funeral was over?), and the absolute ruthlessness with which they will steamroll anyone who stands in their way.

The Democrats had better be ready to pre-empt or respond even faster, and the voting public had better be ready to question it all. I highly recommend Bill Israel’s book, “A Nation Seized” for an insider look at Rove’s MO as preparation. Find information at www.BillIsrael.com.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Does Walker’s victory put Wisconsin in play for the GOP?

Pundits will be talking all day about the meaning of the failed Wisconsin recall election.

The bright spot is that the recall process has forced Walker to moderate his language if not his actions and if the numbers hold out, he will be faced with a Democratic majority in the state senate to slow down his union-busting, tea-party sponsored initiatives.

But I see an ominous cloud of Obama’s making for the national elections in November. Will he learn from this that it does no good to try to deflect controversy from yourself and let other people take the fall?

Politico Arena Asks:

Incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker has survived the gubernatorial recall election against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the Associated Press reports. The victory comes after Walker divided Wisconsin by making changes to state laws governing collective bargaining for public employees. Though Obama won the state by 13 points in 2008, presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney is expected to be more competitive in the state this fall.

Does this victory put Wisconsin in play for the GOP in 2012?

My Response:

Obama give Romney an unearned advantage by not going to WI and giving it his all. Barrett’s defeat is very bad for the president and all progressive causes. Obama can’t escape being affected by the outcome. He would have been better off losing with honor than appearing to duck this pivotal showdown. He has ceded a chunk of moral authority that could have come from issuing a fiery challenge to the Citizens United torrent of Republican money that bought Walker’s win. That money will continue to flow;  without a robust push back, it could well help Romney carry Wisconsin in November.

 


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Is Trump a liability for Mitt Romney?

Politico Arena Asks:

Billionaire Donald Trump will join Mitt Romney tonight at a fundraiser in Las Vegas. The appearance comes just five days after the real estate developer aimed to re-ignite the debate about President Obama’s birthplace.

Tonight’s appearance could pose some political risk to Romney, political experts predict.  Obama released his long-form birth certificate last year, which showed his birthplace to be Honolulu, Hawaii.

Is it worth the money for Romney to associate himself with a birther? Will this help or hurt Romney’s campaign?

My Response:

Any right winger, however wacky or outrageous, who aligns with Romney will bring in some votes. And as to the money Trump might bring, Romney has already shown what he is. He’s just trying to get the best price.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

If You Don’t Sing Your Own Song, Who Will?

Analyzing gas prices isn’t usually my beat, but media messaging is. Is failure to talk about declining prices at the pump smart or self-defeating for Obama?

Politico Arena Asks:

Gas prices are expected to hit a two-year low this Memorial Day weekend, averaging around $3.66 a gallon, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Some energy analysts believe prices could continue to drop through the summer months. The falling prices take away a key piece of the GOP’s platform against President Obama – however, the White House has been relatively quiet about the price drop and a recent AP-GfK poll showed the majority of Americans still disapprove of Obama’s handling of gas prices.

Will the dropping gas prices help Obama’s reelection chances – and should the White House work harder to highlight the decrease?  Or will voters still be wary of Obama’s economic performance?

My Response:

People are quick to squawk when they feel the pinch in their pocketbooks, but rarely give credit when the pain goes away-unless leaders and/or media create a pervasive narrative about it.  Perhaps the Obama administration is refraining from crowing about the price drop because they anticipate a rise in price that would cause pre-election squawks next fall.

Whatever the reason, it’s a mistake. They should tell a positive story and take the credit if they want falling gas prices to benefit his reelection.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Gay Advisor’s Departure from Romney Campaign: Homophobia or Just More Hypocrisy?

Regardless of which label one chooses for Richard Grenell’s departure from the Romney campaign ranks, the result is the same. And can anyone tell me why in the world a self-respecting gay person or a woman would ever support the Republican candidate in the first place?

Politico Arena Asks:

Mitt Romney’s foreign policy spokesman Richard Grenell announced he was resigning from the campaign this week. Grenell, (an occasional Arena contributor), was the first openly gay spokesman for the Romney campaign.

However, Grenell’s hiring became a source of tension for the campaign after conservatives expressed concern over Grenell’s sexual orientation as well as his endorsement of same sex marriage. Grenell’s voice was also absent during a week of key foreign policy news – the anniversary of Osama bin Ladin’s death.

Does Grenell’s exit reflect poorly on the Romney campaign? And does it indicate that openly gay individuals still have a hard time climbing the ladder in politics?

My Response:

Grenell’s departure not only reflects the homophobic truth of the Romney campaign and its supporters, it also reflects the inconvenient truth gay Republicans must face. Their party denies their basic humanity.

Grenell should have stayed and fought for his job, and his Log Cabin Republican allies should have fought with him. This episode makes them complicit with injustices against their own. So I hold them equally culpable.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Grace, Grit, and Paycheck Fairness – When?

The annual hooplah over Equal Pay Day is over. At gatherings around the country last month, politicians and activists alike decried the persistent 20% plus pay gap between men and women. Now what? Back to work with our heads down as usual?

Not if you’re Lilly Ledbetter.

The namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act—the first bill President Barack Obama signed into law while surrounded with the smart political optics of Ledbetter, bipartisan members of Congress, and other women leaders in red power suits—knows this:

  • Securing fairness and equality in compensation requires each woman to be persistently aware of what she’s worth and stand up for herself in the workplace.
  • Securing fairness and equality in compensation is a long haul process that requires changes to laws and policies so the system is fair to all.

The personal and the political are, as usual, intertwined.

Sure, negotiation expert  Victoria Pynchon can coach you on how to negotiate compensation more effectively for yourself. And when I speak and teach about my book No Excuses and its 9 Power Tools, I emphasize #3—use what you’ve got—to help women identify just how much power they have in their own hands, including the power to make changes in their paychecks.

And sure, as the Daily Muse pointed out, it’s good that the U.S. Department of Labor held an Equal Pay App Challenge seeking an app to educate people about the persistent problems of equal—or rather, unequal—pay.

But clearly these individual actions, as important as they are, constitute isolated drops in the deep blue ocean of needed systemic change.

Ledbetter’s new memoir, Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, takes the personal and weaves it together with the political as she describes how she became a leader in the fight for equal pay.

The retired Goodyear Tire Company executive reveals how she discovered she’d been paid less systematically for 30 years because of her gender, began advocating for herself with her employer, and then realized she had a larger cause working for equal pay on behalf of all women through the courts and the legislative process.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act was needed to overturn the 2007 Supreme Court decision that nullified Ledbetter’s previously successful legal challenge to Goodyear, thus making it harder for women—and all employees—to pursue federal claims of pay discrimination.

Yet as Ledbetter explains in this radio interview with The Women’s Eye, her namesake law simply put women back where they had been before she filed her lawsuit.

“Women are still lagging far behind,” she says. “You should expect and get a good day’s pay for a good day’s work.”

Although the 2007 law restores workers’ ability to sue if they believe they have been discriminated against in pay, it doesn’t solve the underlying difficulty for employees to know whether they’ve been treated unfairly to begin with.

That’s why Ledbetter’s now fighting for the next step—passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The Paycheck Fairness Act has been called the 21st century fix for 20th century laws. According to the American Association of University Women— which has been a leader in equal pay advocacy—the Paycheck Fairness Act, a much needed updated of the 47-year-old Equal Pay Act, is a comprehensive bill that would create stronger incentives for employers to follow the law, empower women to negotiate for equal pay, and strengthen federal outreach, education and enforcement efforts…the bill would also deter wage discrimination by strengthening penalties for equal pay violations and by prohibiting retaliation against workers who ask about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages.

Washington beltway rumor has it that the Senate Democratic majority will bring up Paycheck Fairness in the next week or two, in an effort to solidify their party’s electoral advantage with women while further eroding women voters’ support for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Blocked by Republicans in 2010 when it was last considered, the bill has been neither endorsed nor opposed by Romney.

AAUW’s Government Relations Director Lisa Maatz has concerns about that strategy: “It’s always good to see our priority issues in the national spotlight, and there now seems to be a growing call in the Senate to bring up the Paycheck Fairness Act for a vote. It would be useful for voters to know exactly where our lawmakers and candidates stand on this critical issue. But I must also say that I’m not sure it helps our cause if equal pay simply becomes partisan cannon fodder in this year’s elections, with little actual effort made to close the gap.”

I think Ledbetter would agree with me that forcing the issue is a leadership act and might be the only thing that can help the fair pay cause by making voters aware of where the candidates stand so they can vote accordingly.

Whatever happens, women and men who believe in fair pay will need plenty of Lilly Ledbetter’s courage, grace, and grit to prevail.

I’ll be tracking and continuing to write about Paycheck Fairness here, so stay tuned.

This article originally ran in a blog post for FORBESWOMAN. Check it out here.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.