Civil Rights Lawyer Julie Rikelman Is the Jurist Our Courts Deserve

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on six more of President Biden’s nominees to U.S. federal courts. Included among the impressive slate of nominees was civil rights lawyer Julie Rikelman, who is nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. “I wanted to be an attorney because I believe so deeply in our justice system and the promise of equal justice for all,” Rikelman said during her confirmation hearing.

Public trust in the judiciary is bolstered when courts better reflect the diversity of our country. Confirming Julie Rikelman will ensure a court that better reflects and represents the experiences of all people in America.

Women Saving Democracy: An Attorneys General Explainer

State attorneys general are touted as the “people’s lawyers”—yet the majority are white and male.

The office of attorney general is the central legal division of the states and exists in all 50 states. Attorneys general dictate the state’s law enforcement priorities as well as where resources flow. Almost half of all U.S. states have never had a woman in the role.

‘The People’s Lawyers’: Attorneys General Letitia James and Dana Nessel on Reclaiming and Rebuilding U.S. Democracy

On Sept. 7, Ms. recorded a “fireside chat”-style discussion with Attorneys General Letitia James (N.Y.) and Dana Nessel (Mich.)—two trailblazers in the fight for justice and democracy—moderated by election administration expert and governor of the United States Postal Service, Amber McReynolds.

Here are our favorite moments of that conversation.  

Michigan Judge Rules Abortion Ban Violates Women’s Equal Rights, Bodily Integrity and Dignity

Michigan Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher ruled last week that the state’s 1931 abortion ban violates the Michigan Constitution.

In a forceful, 39-page order permanently blocking the law, Gleicher ruled that the abortion ban violated both the due process and equal protection clauses of the state Constitution. She rejected Republicans’ argument that pregnancy is not an intrusion on women’s bodies: “Bodily autonomy is inherent to human dignity” and “eliminating abortion access will force pregnant women to forgo control of the integrity of their own bodies.”

Survivors Face Backlash For Reporting, 50 Years After Title IX. What Does Justice Look Like For Them?

Title IX created much support for survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault on the basis of sex discrimination, requiring institutions to address such harms in the workplace and in schools.

Ms. spoke with Alexandra Brodsky, civil rights lawyer and co-founder of Know Your IX, about the new backlash survivors still face coming forward, and the new ways activists are fighting for change and survivor-informed support.

Moving Beyond the ‘Pink High Heels’ Defense Shaming of Survivors

Survivors deserve to be taken seriously and viewed as human beings worthy of respect and safety regardless of the clothes they wear—if they’ve been drinking, or if their heels happen to be pink. While I am realistic about how much change is possible, a new day has arrived in which taking the avenue of “but look at the pink high heels she was wearing that night” will put the accused in only greater jeopardy in the eyes of the court and the public.

Cowgirl Boots, Anxious Nights: Transgender Youth and Families Fight Hostile Legislation and Sky-High Suicide Rates

In states around the U.S., families of transgender youth are battling anti-trans legislation blocking life-saving healthcare and transphobic ideas that permeate into their families and schools, and terrifying mental health statistics of trans youth who do not receive care.

Families share how they’re building safe and affirming homes for their children amidst such barriers.

The State of State Equal Rights Amendments: A National Roundup

In the United States, the fight for a federal Equal Rights Amendment has been a century in the making. Meanwhile, state-level equivalents abound—some as comprehensive provisions of state constitutions that guarantee equal rights regardless of an individual’s gender, and others as provisions that prohibit gender-based discrimination in specific circumstances.

View a comprehensive summary of the protections afforded in the 50 states.