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Trump Supreme Court pick said women should ask companies for permission to have children

Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch reportedly told law students that employers should ask women seeking employment about their plans for having children, and also implied that women manipulate companies in order to extract maternity benefits. Jennifer Sisk, a 2016 graduate of the University of Colorado Law School wrote a letter detailing her concerns […]

By Oliver Willis - March 20, 2017
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Donald Trump with Neil Gorsuch

Jennifer Sisk, a 2016 graduate of the University of Colorado Law School wrote a letter detailing her concerns about what she had heard Gorsuch say ahead of the hearings for his SCOTUS nomination. The letter was posted online by the National Employment Lawyers Association and the National Women’s Law Center.

Sisk wrote that in the middle of a classroom discussion involving a hypothetical scenario about a female law student applying for jobs at law firms, Gorsuch said “many” women used companies for maternity benefits, then left those jobs after their children were born. Gorsuch then “outlined how law firms, and companies in general, had to ask female interviewees about pregnancy plans in order to protect the company.”

When a student pushed back on his thesis and said that companies cannot ask about an interviewees pregnancy plans, Sisk wrote, “Judge Gorsuch informed the class that that was wrong.”

She says that Gorsuch told the class “that the question of commitment to work over family was one that only women had to answer for” and that he “continued to steer the conversation back to the problems women pose for companies and the protections that companies need from women.”

Ginger McKnight-Chavers, a lawyer and Shareblue contributor who spent 8 years at major law firms in New York City, pointed out the severity of Gorsuch’s comments: “As a female Harvard Law School graduate who spent many years practicing at two of the top law firms in the country and two major corporations, Neil Gorsuch’s comments about women manipulating their employers to take advantage of maternity leave is not only categorically false, but also deeply disturbing.”

She added, “The women I have met at every stage of my legal career have been brilliant, hard-working and dedicated to their employers and their profession, often to the detriment to their families and personal health. Out of concern and respect for a potential future employer, I turned down an opportunity to become general counsel of a tech startup at a very critical point in my career because I learned I was pregnant and knew that my absence in the capital-raising phase of the startup would be a hardship for them. The norm is that women suffer because of their loyalty and dedication to both their families and their employers. The suggestion and singling out of women as ‘manipulative’ is not only sexist, but foretells a propensity for discrimination that makes Gorsuch unfit to sit on the bench.”

The strange position and manner in which he chose to stress this issue distressed Sisk, who said she was “surprised and upset that a bright, articulate, and educated federal judge could think so little of female attorneys.”

She raised her concerns about Gorsuch with the law school administration, and also wrote about her impressions of his position the following day in a Facebook group for female lawyers. The school told Sisk that Gorsuch’s interpretation of the law about what an employer can ask prospective hires was wrong.

In the conclusion to her letter, Sisk said, “it concerns me that a man who is being considered for our highest court holds views that discounts the worth of working females.”

This latest revelation continues to add to the growing concerns about Gorsuch’s fitness for the high court. In addition to his dismissive attitude towards women (and advocating what would be an illegal line of inquiry before employment), Gorsuch  has exhibited hostility towards concerns for the disabled, the well-being of cancer patients, and overall bias in favor of corporations instead of siding with workers.

All of which makes it quite clear why Trump chose him for the Court, and why he is unfit for the seat.


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