Claudine Gay’s Resignation at Harvard Proves Black Women’s Leadership Is Still Political

Much of the criticism of Harvard’s Claudine Gay wasn’t about legitimate concerns about academic integrity or campus antisemitism. It was about who is in power.

But who’s surprised, really, that things went this way for Gay? Against Black women specifically, the conservative agenda is clear: Minimize their excellence and exaggerate their mistakes. Their identities and leadership become weaponized and politicized. There is no room for error. 

Women Are Improving the Federal Bench: Milestones and Historic Firsts

Since 2021, the Senate has confirmed 140 lifetime judges. Two-thirds (94) are women, and more than 40 percent (60) are women of color, including Native American women. At the circuit court level, three-fourths of these confirmed judges are women, and more than half are women of color. (This stands in stark contrast to former President Trump’s appointees, including his nomination of zero Black judges, and just one Latina judge, to federal circuit courts.)

But this progress can’t stop here.

The professional and demographic diversity these judges bring to our federal courts matters. Our diverse nation needs judges who reflect and represent all of us. And we know this: Demographic and professional diversity on our courts has been shown to increase public trust in the judiciary and improve judicial decision-making.

Supreme Court Review: The Term That Ended Affirmative Action, Allowed LGBTQ Discrimination, and More

Friday, June 30, marked the end of a roller coaster of a Supreme Court term. The same day, legal experts and commentators gathered for the 13th Annual Supreme Court Review at the University of California, Irvine.

The panel discussed the high Court’s bombshell rulings from the last several months, which put an end to affirmative action, protected businesses’ “constitutional” rights to discriminate against LGBTQ people under the guise of free speech, halted President Joe Biden’s authority to forgive federal student loans, and more. These monumental decisions will have ripple effects in the years and decades to come.

Watch the hour-long program, or read some of our favorite takes.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Affirmative Action—A Blow to Equality and Democracy

Colleges and universities can no longer take race into consideration as a basis for granting admission, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday, upending decades of its own precedents that have benefited Black, Latino and Indigenous students seeking higher education.

The long-awaited decision was met with instant rebuke from legal observers and civil rights advocates. “Today’s decisions from the Supreme Court on affirmative action represent a significant setback for civil rights in the U.S. and are a cornerstone of the conservative movement’s coordinated effort to roll back access to opportunity for systemically marginalized Americans,” said Kimberlé Crenshaw, executive director of the African American Policy Forum.

Only When the Government Truly Represents Women Will the U.S. Have a Real Democracy

Women make up a little over a quarter of Congress and around one-third of state legislators. Policy can remedy inequities and create a world that is more supportive of women. When our government truly represents women, we won’t have to defend our right to exist in the halls of power, or our right to vote for the policy we need and deserve.

(This essay is part of The Majority Rules project—an artful essay and op-ed series from Ms. and Supermajority Education Fund.)

To Change the World, This Year’s Feminist Wins and Losses Must Fuel Us Forward

If 2022 proved anything, it’s that we must continue to organize and channel the collective rage that was triggered by the Court’s reversal of Roe, to not only restore abortion rights across the nation but to push forward toward our goal of full equality. There is no way the movement can be stopped.

It’s important to celebrate our wins and take stock of our losses at a time like this—because they are what will fuel us as we move forward into the new year and meet the new challenges it will bring.

Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation: Women Leaders Reckon With a Loss of Abortion Rights; The Lack of Women at G7

Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation is a compilation of stories about women’s representation in politics, on boards, in sports and entertainment, in judicial offices and in the private sector in the U.S. and around the world—with a little gardening and goodwill mixed in for refreshment!

This week: Women leaders reckon with the Dobbs ruling and its catastrophic impact women’s lives and health; political strategies that deliver women real power; the lack of women leaders at the G7; democracy experts share their take on politics and the landscape for reform on the eve of the 246th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence; and more.

Against All Odds, She Became a Lawyer

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson just officially took her seat on the Supreme Court, making her the first-ever Black woman to serve as a justice in the Court’s 233-year history. 

Just 65 out of the 175 active judges on the federal circuit courts are female, and just 37 percent of state Supreme Court seats. Only 14 states have gender-balanced Supreme Courts. Out of the 115 justices that have served on the highest court of the United States, just six were women—four of whom are currently on the bench, including Jackson. In the face of recent events regarding the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we must change the face of justice in America through intentional actions and data-backed best practices to elect and appoint more women to judicial offices.