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Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court’

Oh no, not another one. Not another smart, ambitious, career-oriented, fifty-something single woman nominated for the Supreme Court. What is the President thinking? It’s not just that she knew what she wanted to be early on and focused on achieving her goals. It’s not just that she’s excessively bright; nor is it about her baseball playing prowess. This nominee has never been married. She can’t know what it’s like to be a working mother. She doesn’t understand how she might balance the demands of growing children, equally striving (or supremely threatened) working (or jobless) husband, and stressful, high-powered job. She has some questions about the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. In other words she’s (wink, cough, chuckle, cue the innuendos) “completely out of touch with the average American,”  or so says former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum , who knows a thing or two about being out of touch.

(By the way, the above picture of Kagan in the early nineties ran on the front page of the May 11th, 2010 issue of the Wall Street Journal and has provoked intense debate about what the Journal was “hinting.” )

Are we really having this discussion? Even behind closed doors or the backs of our hands, online or on Fox News?

KaganJoan Vennochi, writing in the Boston Globe on Sunday, asked: “why does a single career woman with short hair always have to answer the is-she-gay question?” A better question is: why should anyone, male or female, who is unmarried, have to address questions as to whether he/she is gay, straight, uninterested, unable to find the time to forge a long-term commitment, unable to find an equal partner, uncomfortable with the idea of matrimony, or perfectly content with things as they are? Of course, when it comes to matters of the heart, or perhaps something much lower, Americans display both easy offense and prurient interest in equal measure. (image downloaded from lawyersusa.com)

Single American women, however, are particularly distrusted, it seems, especially if they’re a bit older. From divorced cougars to “black” widows, popular culture maintains the stereotype of a woman on the prowl for a suitable mate. The fabulous forty, strong women, coming-into-our-own narrative is a lie; what we all really want is a nice guy to settle down with.

That’s a whopping generalization to make about what  Page Gardner, founder of Women’s Voices. Women’s Vote, has identified as one of the fastest growing demographics in this country–single women. Absolutely, there are many women who’ve hoped that circumstances would present themselves and stars would align so that they might discover (or rediscover) their soul mate. But those women are still leading their lives. Some are shattering glass ceilings or bounding over barriers; others are celingstepping over small obstacles or pushing past resistance every day. Along the way, some may have of necessity put the thought of a romantic pairing out of their minds; rather than being out of touch with average Americans, though, they are average Americans.

The successful, smart and lucky women, like Elena Kagan and yes, Condoleeza Rice are those who have discovered joy and satisfaction in their work and in being the trailblazers and why not? Love and marriage work for some and if it happens, it happens. In the meantime, there are places to go, people to meet, friends to cherish and trails to blaze.

(above image downloaded from nurses.com)

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In America, we bring each other to trial on a regular and, it seems, profitable basis. Off course we say we’re not doing it for the money but because issues of justice, fairness and respect are involved. Did a school overstep in strip-searching a thirteen-year-old girl to see whether she was carrying prescription Ibuprofen? Can a chiropractor sue a patient who posted a negative review on the website Yelp.com? Whatever the decisions, it should be noted that both lawsuits involve claims of compensation.

Then there are those court cases that are more about symbolism than anything else. No one expects six onetime Bush administration officials, including former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to actually go on trial for, much less be convicted of violating international law in allowing for the torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Nevertheless, a Spanish court is reviewing the complaint and warrants may well be issued.

An even more fraught case involves the indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Al-Bashir and other leaders in the Arab world have united in condemning the indictment as an act of neo-colonialism designed to undermine Sudan’s stability. The African Union Peace and Security Council is seeking to overturn the indictment.

Why bring each other to trial, especially when the outcomes are so dicey?  In many (although not all) instances, a trial will bring particular issues into focus for public discussion – school authority and privacy, free speech and the value of protecting a reputation, torture and international law and sovereignty in the face of incalculable human suffering. Furthermore, there are people around the world who believe coming before a tribunal of presumably impartial judges is the way to go – this despite various attempts in both democratic and less democratic societies to thwart, rewrite, abolish or simply ignore the rule of law. I’m glad of that. The judicial system is often flawed but there is scant evidence the alternatives – incarceration, incapacitation, humiliation, torture or genocide – work at all.

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