Caroline Fredrickson

  • March 11, 2016

    by Caroline Fredrickson, President, American Constitution Society

    *This piece originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

    "A novel and absurd notion," is how leading legal scholars and historians describe Senate Republicans' obstinate refusal to consider President Obama's forthcoming nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia's death.

    I couldn't say it better myself. Even Senate Republicans in moments of candor acknowledge the absurdity and hypocrisy of their stand. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) admitted this week that he and his colleagues are defying longstanding Senate precedent by blocking a potential justice. Similarly, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told a radio talk show host that if the president were a Republican, there wouldn't be delay, putting the lie to the idea that a "lame duck" president is the issue.

    The scholars, who include ACS current and former Board members Erwin Chemerinsky, Pamela S. Karlan, and Geoffrey R. Stone, eloquently explain why Senate Republicans are absurdly wrong on this matter. It comes down to what the Constitution says, and what prior Senates have done. AEI's Norm Ornstein, a longtime scholar of Senate procedure, was instrumental in coordinating the letter.

    It is standard practice, the scholars write in a March 10 letter, that "when a vacancy occurs on the Supreme Court to have a president, whatever the stage in his term, to nominate a successor and have the Senate consider it."

    Ornstein and the scholars continue, "If we buy the logic that decisions made by 'lame duck' presidents are illegitimate or are to be disregarded until voters make their choice in the upcoming election, that begs both the questions of when lame duck status begins (after all, a president is technically a 'lame duck' from the day of inauguration), and why senators up for reelection at the same time should not recuse themselves from decisions until the voters have decided whether to keep them or their partisans in office."

  • October 8, 2015

    by Paul Guequierre

    As the political right, including many Republican members of  Congress, continue an  attack on women’s healthcare in the form of ongoing  assaults on Planned Parenthood, American Constitution Society President Caroline Fredrickson testified today before the House Judiciary Committee in its second hearing in a series misleadingly titled, “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining Abortion Procedures and Medical Ethics at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider." 

    In her testimony, Fredrickson said:

    In reality, these videos are not about alleged illegal sales of fetal tissue. They are not about alleged violations of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. They are about a persistent campaign by a small group of people who believe that abortion should be illegal, by any means necessary.

    But the truth is that abortion is an essential component of women’s health care.’ It is also one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States. And three in ten women in the U.S. will have a safe, legal abortion during her lifetime. Women and their doctors clearly understand that abortion is a safe, legal, and essential part of women’s health care. Women who seek access to abortion, like any patient seeking access to essential health care, are entitled to “privacy, dignity, respect, and support.”  Elected officials should listen to what women and their doctors already know – sham laws and baseless investigations that serve only to burden a woman’s right to choose have no place in our nation’s statehouses.

    Fredrickson’s testimony can be read here. See video of entire hearing from C-SPAN.

  • July 1, 2015
    Under The Bus
    How Working Women Are Being Run Over
    Caroline Fredrickson

    by Caroline Fredrickson, President, American Constitution Society for Law & Policy

    When she was 18, my great-grandmother Mathilda Olafsson left Sweden to escape poverty, sailing alone in steerage to Boston where she was lucky to find a job as a maid. Like countless immigrant women, Mathilda was subject to sexual harassment, underpayment, and abusively long hours. As she endured backbreaking labor and meals consisting of her employers’ scraps, she hoarded her meager earnings, working toward a better life.

    Growing up, I found Mathilda’s story ‒ so far in the past, so different from today ‒ inspirational. But sadly, even after the enactment of various labor laws and worker protections, many working women are still enduring the abuses that my great-grandmother suffered. The truth is, domestic workers and workers in other undervalued, female-dominated professions have little more legal protection than Mathilda and her peers had.

    Americans tend to think working conditions aren't so bad today; the U.S. has prohibited discrimination against women, mandated equal pay for equal work, and adopted family leave legislation. But few Americans know that the progressive laws designed to improve wages and working conditions left out large portions of the working population. That’s because during the New Deal, President Franklin Roosevelt struck bargains with “Dixiecrats,” trading the rights of African American and female workers for votes in support of a minimum wage, overtime, and the right to join a union.

    As a result, certain workers – including nannies, housekeepers, farmworkers, small business employees, part-time workers, independent contractors, and temporary workers – have almost zero protection under U.S. law. Not coincidentally, these workers are disproportionately female and people of color.

  • June 5, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    In the Los Angeles Times, ACS President Caroline Fredrickson discusses the importance of whether “sharing economy” workers are considered employees or independent contractors.

    Adam Liptak reports in The New York Times on the rise of the Supreme Court Justices as celebrities and takes a look at their significant number of public appearances, including the ACS National Convention.

    At The Economist’s Democracy in America blog, Steven Mazie looks at the Supreme Court’s decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch and the implications of the ruling that a retailer could be held liable for failing to hire a Muslim teenager who wears a headscarf.

    Mark Joseph Stern of Slate writes that conservative Supreme Court justices voiced frustration at the Court’s decision not to hear a case that could have resulted in significant reductions in the constitutional protections for undocumented immigrants.

    At Salon, Valerie Tarico interviews a Texas abortion counselor and considers how to create a more productive dialogue about abortion.

  • April 21, 2015

    by Jeremy Leaming

    Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter have drawn much attention for their thoughts about the professional working lives of women.  But Sandberg and Slaughter have failed to recognize or willfully ignored the stations of the vast majority of working women – those women who do not have the luxury of “opting out” or “leaning in.”  The inadequacies of our workplace laws leave many working women behind and perpetually struggling to survive.

    American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) President Caroline Fredrickson, a former labor lawyer and a longtime leader in the legal progressive community, declares a powerful response to “leaning in,” or “opting out,” which dominate discussion of inequalities facing women in the workforce.

    The discussion of workplace equality for women now focuses almost exclusively on white-collar professionals.  This discussion needs broadening.

    Fredrickson’s compelling book, Under the Bus: How Working Women Are Being Run Over, tells the stories of many women, who do not have the protection of our laws or the ability to stand up to their employers’ often illegal demands.  Indeed, for too long many employers have ignored or been exempted from laws meant to protect workers against corporate malfeasance.  Fredrickson also notes the inadequacy of our laws is ingrained in a history riven with racial and gender biases.  Time after time, Fredrickson notes that historical progressive movements to improve the lives of working Americans have left women behind.  If our nation fails to embrace collective solutions to collective problems, inequality will continue to fester in America while democracy suffers.