Keeping Score: Paycheck Fairness Act Blocked by Senate Republicans; Biden’s Record Number of Women Judges; DOJ Defends Trans Rights

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in in this biweekly round-up.


Keeping Score: Biden Nominates Record Number of Women Judges; Paycheck Fairness Act Blocked by Senate Republicans; Trans Youth Face Attacks in State Legislatures
Clockwise from top left: Keystone XL Pipeline rally in Washington, D.C. (Flickr / Elvert Barnes); Megan Rapinoe (Flickr / Lorie Shaull); and the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol (UN Human Rights @UNHumanRights / Twitter).

Lest We Forget

“For hours the screams on the radio were horrific, the sights were unimaginable, and there was a complete loss of control. … For hours NO Chief or above took command and control.”

—A bipartisan investigation of the January 6 insurrection by two Senate committees, focusing primarily on agencies’ preparation prior to the attack and security recommendations going forward.

“The civil rights community is all too familiar with those who would maliciously seek to co-opt the language of fairness and equality in the service of an agenda which only advances discrimination and exclusion. … We support the full inclusion of transgender girls and women in sports because we recognize, as courts and scientists overwhelmingly have stated, that transgender girls and women are girls and women. Transgender youth participate in sports for the same reasons that all young people do: to have fun, challenge themselves, and be part of a team where they feel included and accepted. Students who are transgender deserve the chance to succeed and thrive like any other student.”

—An “Open Letter Supporting the Full Inclusion of Transgender Students” on behalf of over 60 civil and human rights advocacy groups.

“My advice to [my daughters] is the same as it is to all young people, which is that protesting — raising public awareness, putting a spotlight on injustice, making the powers that be uncomfortable — that kind of civil disobedience couldn’t be more important. Throughout our history, that has often been the only way to get the political system to pay attention to marginalized communities.

But eventually, I tell them, movements have to be translated into laws and policies — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.

Basically, my advice is to reject the false choice between participating in protests and politics. Do both!”

—Former President Barack Obama in an interview with The 19th.

“Let this be a lesson to all misogynistic perverts in sport and their bootlickers: You can no longer exploit young women and girls, body shame or medically gaslight them and then expect them to represent you so you can earn your annual bonus. Time’s UP.”

—Olympic silver medalist Maddie Groves, 26, announcing her withdrawal from Australia’s Olympic trials, only a few days in advance.

“I am a product of these horrific assimilation policies. My maternal grandparents were stolen from their families when they were only 8 years old and were forced to live away from their parents, culture and communities until they were 13. Many children like them never made it back home… The lasting and profound impacts of the federal government’s boarding school system have never been appropriately addressed.

This attempt to wipe out Native identity, language and culture continues to manifest itself in the disparities our communities face, including long-standing intergenerational trauma, cycles of violence and abuse, disappearance, premature deaths, and additional undocumented physiological and psychological impacts.”

—Interior secretary Deb Haaland in a Washington Post op-ed, which was published following the discovery of a mass grave at a Canadian residential school for Indigenous children.

“The Supreme Court has upheld the right for LGBTQ+ people to live and work without fear of harassment, exclusion, and discrimination — and our LGBTQ+ students have the same rights and deserve the same protections. I’m proud to have directed the Office for Civil Rights to enforce Title IX to protect all students from all forms of sex discrimination.

Today, the Department makes clear that all students—including LGBTQ+ students—deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive in schools that are free from discrimination.”

—U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in an official release from the U.S. Department of Education

“The current disparity is not based on evidence, yet has caused significant harm for decades, particularly to individuals, families and communities of color. The continuation of this sentencing disparity is a significant injustice in our legal system, and it is past time for it to end. Therefore, the administration urges the swift passage of the ‘Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law Act.'”

—White House Office of National Drug Control Policy acting director Regina LaBelle in support of the Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law (EQUAL) Act, which would end sentencing disparities for crack and powder cocaine users.

Milestones

+ The Keystone XL pipeline project spanning from Canada to Nebraska was officially terminated on Wednesday, June 9, in response to years of opposition from advocacy groups, Indigenous communities, and—more recently—the Biden administration.

Keeping Score: Biden Nominates Record Number of Women Judges; Paycheck Fairness Act Blocked by Senate Republicans; Trans Youth Face Attacks in State Legislatures
An anti-Keystone XL Pipeline March in Santa Barbara, Calif., on September 21, 2013. (350.org / Flickr)

+ The Senate passed a bill on Tuesday, June 15 to recognize Juneteenth as an official federal holiday marking the emancipation of U.S. slaves in 1865—skipping over more tangible legislation that would protect racism education in schools or issue reparations to Black Americans.

+ The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, June 17, that the Constitution prohibits Philadelphia from pulling a contract with a Catholic adoption service that discriminates against LGBTQ+ couples.

“[Catholic Social Services] seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

+ Labor secretary Marty Walsh announced Wednesday, June 9, that COVID-19 workplace regulations will be limited to the health care sector—prompting backlash from unions and worker safety organizations.

“We know that workers in many industries outside of health care faced elevated risks of COVID, especially in low wage industries like meat processing that is [made up of] disproportionately Black and brown workers,” said The National Employment Law Project director Debbie Berkowitz, “and we need to make sure these workers are still protected with mitigation measures such as ventilation and filtration to control airborne exposures, masks and social distancing — and OSHA must enforce these.”

+ A bill passed in New York on Thursday, June 10, will offer gender-neutral IDs to nonbinary and intersex residents.

+ Out of Biden’s 19 nominees for federal judges, 15 are women and 11 are women of color. Since January, Biden has nominated as many minority women to the federal bench as Trump did in four years.

One of his nominees—Judge Zahid Quraishi—also became the first-ever Muslim American federal judge appointed by the President and confirmed the Senate on Thursday, June 10. Quraishi will serve as a district judge in New Jersey.

+ Although moratoriums kept mass evictions at bay for much of the pandemic, millions of American homeowners and renters who are behind on payments are now facing foreclosure or evictions—especially in communities of color.

Keeping Score: Biden Nominates Record Number of Women Judges; Paycheck Fairness Act Blocked by Senate Republicans; Trans Youth Face Attacks in State Legislatures
An anti-eviction demonstration in Brooklyn, New York, in August 2011. (Michael Premo / Flickr)

+ A 32-page plan released by the Biden administration details a strategy to counter domestic extremism, including preemptive screenings of government employees.

+ Victoria’s Secret has opted to replace its notorious Angels with seven famous women who are celebrated for more than their appearance—including soccer champion Megan Rapinoe; freestyle skier Eileen Gu; and actress Priyanka Chopra Jones.

+ The Paycheck Fairness Act was blocked by Senate Republicans on Tuesday, June 8. The bill—held up by a minority party thanks to the filibuster—would put the onus on employers to reevaluate wage discrepancies and protect workers from retaliation.

+ The Department of Justice (DOJ) argued in two recent statements that anti-trans state legislation violates the 14th Amendment and Title IX. The lawsuits—based in Arkansas and West Virginia—focus on trans health care and participation in sports.

+ New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will become the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics this summer. “I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” Hubbard said in a statement. “The last eighteen months has shown us all that there is strength in kinship, in community, and in working together towards a common purpose. The mana of the silver fern comes from all of you and I will wear it with pride.”

+ In an Instagram post on Monday, June 21, Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay publicly.

+ A wave of bills in Republican-controlled legislatures aim to restrict teachers from teaching about race and racism in the U.S. “Teachers and professors in Idaho will be prevented from ‘indoctrinating’ students on race. Oklahoma teachers will be prohibited from saying certain people are inherently racist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously. Tennessee schools will risk losing state aid if their lessons include particular concepts about race and racism,” the Associated Press reports.

+ A bill reversing sales taxes on feminine hygiene products and diapers passed the Louisiana legislature on Thursday, June 10, bringing the state one step closer to eliminating its so-called “pink tax.”

+ In a House vote last week, 21 representatives opposed honoring the Capitol police officers who defended members of Congress during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

+ According to an announcement by Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger (R) on Friday, June 18, 100,000 of the state’s voters will be purged from the voter rolls this summer if they don’t take action to verify their registration. Georgia residents can check and verify their status here.

How We’re Doing

+ A public opinion poll on abortion legislation found that 61 percent of voters support legislation like the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA)reintroduced in the House on Tuesday, June 8—which would protect the constitutional right to abortion from unnecessary restrictions. Supporters include 82 percent of Democrats, but also 39 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of Independents.

Keeping Score: Biden Nominates Record Number of Women Judges; Paycheck Fairness Act Blocked by Senate Republicans; Trans Youth Face Attacks in State Legislatures
A rally against abortion bans in Seattle in 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

+ American billionaires such as Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet paid relatively little in income tax in recent years, The Washington Post reports. The release of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data by ProPublica “sent shock waves through Washington,” and “shows how billionaires are able to legally reduce their tax burden, highlighting how the American tax system can hit ordinary wage earners harder than the richest people in the country.”

+ The wage gap for Black women has lost the U.S. economy over $500 billion in the past 60 years. Yet, the Senate has still not taken action to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act—passed by the House in April—which would build on and reinforce the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Republicans voted to filibuster the bill instead.

+ Latinx Americans—18 percent of the U.S. population—held just over one in 20 broadcast TV roles in 2018-19. Latinx representation in movie roles was only 4.6 percent.

+ Global approval of the U.S. has drastically increased since President Joe Biden took office, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Three in four respondents expressed confidence in Biden to “do the right thing regarding world affairs”—under Trump, that number fell to just 17 percent. In surveyed countries, 28 percent more people now have a favorable view of the U.S.

+ Compared to early 2019, emergency room visits for adolescent girls attempting suicide increased by half in 2021.

+ According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, 476,000 transgender adults lack a U.S. ID with the correct gender marker—more than half (55 percent) of survey respondents.

+ A recent study found that female inventors are less likely to be awarded patents than their male counterparts, which could contribute to a lack of biomedical innovation in women’s health. “If [women] are patenting less, what sort of inventions might we be missing?” asks lead author and Harvard professor Rembrand Koning.

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About

Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a freshman at Tufts University. She was a Ms. editorial fellow, research fellow and assistant editor of social media. You can find her on Twitter at @sophie_dk_.