Two years ago this week, the Treasury secretary announced civil rights and women’s icons would be on America’s money. Where are they?
Updated 6:47 PM ET, Thu August 27, 2015 |
Cleveland (CNN)Hillary Clinton compared Republican presidential candidates who hold conservative views on abortion and women’s reproductive rights to “terrorist groups” in a Cleveland speech on Thursday.
During a riff where the candidate name checked Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Clinton said Republicans are “dead wrong for 21st century America.”
“Now, extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world, but it’s a little hard to take from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States,” Clinton said. “Yet they espouse out of date, out of touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century America. We are going forward, we are not going back.”
Clinton regularly hits Republicans on women’s rights but Thursday’s line was a departure from her usual talking points.
“I would like these Republican candidates to look the mom in the eye who caught her breast cancer early because she was able to get a screening for cancer or the teenager who didn’t get pregnant because she has access to contraception,” Clinton said. “Or anyone who has ever been protected by an HIV test.”
Clinton told the audience of around 2,000, according to Case Western Reserve University, that she takes “it a little personal when they (Republicans) go after women.”
Bush said in a Tweet that the remarks were a sign of Clinton’s misplaced priorities.
“.@HillaryClinton compares pro-life Americans to terrorists, but defends despicable PP treatment of unborn? Her priorities are totally wrong,” Bush tweeted.
Republicans were quick to pounce on Clinton’s comments and called for her to apologize.
“For Hillary Clinton to equate her political opponents to terrorists is a new low for her flailing campaign,” said Allison Moore, press secretary for the Republican National Committee. “She should apologize immediately for her inflammatory rhetoric.”
“Hillary Clinton just said a significant portion of Americans are the same as ‘terrorist groups’ simply because they disagree with her,” added Amelia Chassé, press secretary for America Rising PAC, an anti-Clinton opposition research group. “That is outrageous, even for a desperate politician slipping in the polls. It’s the clearest sign yet that Sec. Clinton will say or do anything to win.”
A national poll released Thursday showed Clinton leading the Democratic field with 45% support, as well as topping several GOP candidates in head-to-head matchups.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and Congressman Kurt Schrader will hold a joint town hall in Lincoln County Tuesday, Feb. 17.
“There are huge issues facing Oregonians and the best way for me to effectively advocate for Oregon’s families and businesses is by getting out on the road and holding a town hall in every county, every year to hear directly from Oregonians,” Merkley said. “I invite all residents of Lincoln County to come and discuss what we need to do to strengthen our state and nation.”
“These meetings are a chance for us to visit, talk about what’s been going on in Washington, and find out ways that we can be helpful to you,” Schrader said.
The Town Hall will start at 2 p.m. in room 124 at the Newport Recreation Center, 225 SE Avery St.
In 2008, Merkley pledged to hold town halls in each of Oregon’s 36 counties every year. He upheld his pledge during his first term. Lincoln County will be his 218th town halls as a U.S. Senator.
By David Schuman
OCT. 16, 2014
Opponents of Measure 89, which would add to the Oregon Constitution an amendment prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, argue that our constitution already prohibits such discrimination. They also note that our state constitution — the longest in the nation — already is cluttered with unnecessary provisions, and an Equal Rights Amendment would just make things worse.
I agree with those arguments. I’m going to vote for Measure 89 anyway. Here’s why.
Article I, Section 20, of the Oregon Constitution provides that when state or local governments provide individuals or classes of individuals “privileges or immunities,” those benefits must be made available “on the same terms,” equally, to all citizens. When first enacted along with the rest of the Oregon Constitution in 1859, the Privileges and Immunities Clause was not intended to prohibit discrimination against minority groups; we know that, because the voters who ratified it also voted to prohibit African-Americans from living in Oregon, and statutes (fortunately never enforced) called for whipping those who refused to leave.
The clause probably was designed to prohibit the Legislature from granting special economic favors to insiders or cronies.
However, for at least the past 33 years, the Oregon Supreme Court has held that Article I, Section 20, is this state’s version of the Equal Protection Clause in the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting invidious discrimination based on race, religion, gender and other traits unrelated to merit. In fact, the court has held that the Privileges and Immunities Clause provides even stronger protections against gender discrimination than its federal counterpart.
That is why I agree that Measure 89 would duplicate existing state constitutional bans on gender discrimination.
However, what the Oregon Supreme Court gives, it can also take away. There is no guarantee that future Supreme Court justices will refrain from reinterpreting Article I, Section 20, in such a way as to diminish protections against gender discrimination.
The possibility of reinterpretation is not limited to some doomsday takeover by partisan fanatics. The current court — all of whose members, I hasten to add, are my friends in whose fairness, intelligence and freedom from bias I have complete confidence — has, nonetheless, shown a conspicuous willingness to overrule precedent, particularly when doing so is, in their eyes, compelled by “original intent” and “plain text” — both of which could excuse rolling back the protections against invidious discrimination that for decades have inhered in Article I, Section 20.
In most of the cases where the court has overruled precedent, it has been urged to do so by lawyers for the Oregon Department of Justice. That is so because the cases usually involve the enforcement of criminal laws; the person claiming that law enforcement violated his or her constitutional rights is usually a criminal defendant seeking the suppression of unconstitutionally seized evidence or the invalidation of an allegedly discriminatory statute.
Ominously, for purposes of gender equality, the Department of Justice recently submitted a brief to the court urging it to disavow the long-standing interpretation of Article I, Section 20, and to hold instead that the Privileges and Immunities Clause prohibits only what it was intended to prohibit 155 years ago, when slavery was still flourishing in much of the country and women couldn’t hold property, enter into contracts or vote.
The court rejected that argument — for now. I hope and believe that current and future lawyers in the Department of Justice will avoid such arguments, which may serve legitimate purposes in individual criminal cases but poorly serve the majority of citizens who are not involved in crime. If such arguments are advanced, I hope that future Supreme Courts will continue to reject them.
If they don’t, one might ask, wouldn’t women still have the protection against invidious discrimination afforded by the Equal Protection Clause? The answer is that they will — but that such protection is weaker than what’s currently available under Article I, Section 20, and the current United States Supreme Court has not been, to put it mildly, friendly to gender equality claims. In other words, if in the future Department of Justice lawyers continue to urge the court to reinterpret Article I, Section 20, and the court ultimately complies, women’s claims for equal treatment will be substantially weakened.
I hope that doesn’t happen. But women in this state deserve more than hopes. They deserve Measure 89.
“David Schuman taught federal and Oregon constitutional law at the University of Oregon School of Law from 1987 through 1996, and will rejoin its faculty in 2015. He was the Oregon deputy attorney general from 1997 through 2000, and served as a judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals from 2001 until his retirement.”
– Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (1900)
Nancy Pelosi isn’t the only one who’s been visited by the suffragists. In fact, they came to see me first. While I was writing a paper late one night, they appeared in my dining room. Tell our story. Don’t just do an academic exercise, they insisted. “That’s not what the professor assigned,” I argued, rubbing my eyes. But they would not be denied. Night after night, as I tried to write my paper, the suffragists demanded, Tell OUR story!
And so I did. I wrote a play about an imaginary reunion of four founders of the suffragist movement. In my script, they comment on the current political landscape using their own words from the 1800s. Sadly, their perspectives and warnings seem timeless.
My play has been performed five times over nearly 20 years, updated each time to include the latest assault on women’s rights. The script keeps getting longer. And after each sold-out performance, I’m flooded with confessions from the audience that they know very little about our foremothers.
The audience doesn’t know the story because history books don’t elaborate on these crusaders who were shouted down, ridiculed, spat upon, kicked, shoved, jailed, force-fed and even killed. All because they wanted to vote, a right we now take for granted—a dangerous apathy since the Supreme Court recently gutted the Voting Rights Act. We must tell the story of these forgotten heroes who put their lives on the line just to participate in the democratic process. Because it is our story.
And there’s not just one story to be told; the suffrage leaders were all very different, yet came together for a common cause. Susan B. Anthony refused several offers of marriage, declaring that she never wanted to be “a man’s housekeeper.” She taught school, earning four times less than her male colleagues. Her family was Quaker so did not vote, yet suffrage became her lifelong passion.
Lucretia Mott, painting by Joseph Kyle, 1842
Her closest friend and collaborator, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, had seven children. She deleted the word “obey” from her marriage vows and refused to be called Mrs. Henry Stanton, saying women deserve names of their own. Her father disowned her for advocating for suffrage; she persisted. Stanton credited Lucretia Mott with teaching her that she had the right to think for herself, to be guided by her own convictions. Mott, called “a brazen infidel,” was a fascinating combination of serene and radical. She was a Quaker minister, yet was not allowed to speak because of her gender when she traveled to the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. She then co-authored the Declaration of Sentiments with Stanton, the first salvo for women’s equality in this country.
Sojourner Truth, c. 1870
Sojourner Truth is the fourth woman brought back to life in my play although, in reality, white suffragists were not inclusive of black women. Truth was a slave who saw most of her 13 children sold into slavery. Freed at the age of 46, she traveled the country preaching for the liberation of her people. Yet the passage of the 15th amendment in 1870, granting black men the right to vote first, troubled her: “… If colored men get their rights, and not colored women, the colored men will be masters over the women, and it will be just as bad as it was before. …” She became a strong advocate for women’s suffrage, as was abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
Lucy Stone, who re-wrote her marriage vows in 1855 to protest the civil laws that gave the husband custody of the wife, was the first woman known to have kept her birth name after marriage. But Stanton did not invite her to this theatrical reunion because they disagreed over their primary mission. Stone stuck to voting rights, but Stanton held out for total equality, even writing The Woman’s Bible in 1895. Stanton believed, “… The battle is not wholly fought until we stand equal in the church, the world of work, and have an equal code of morals for both sexes.” She understood that the feminist whole is greater than its parts.
In my re-enactment, Mott counsels women’s groups to be inclusive, keeping our eyes on the prize. Yet Truth expresses concern that some women in politics today do not embrace the feminist message that all people are created equal, and that the law must uphold such equality.
What troubles me even more than the fact that the audience often doesn’t know the story of these women is that most viewers have seemingly not thought about our lack of progress since that time. Almost 100 years since the 19th Amendment was ratified, the suffragists in the play are shocked to learn that less than 20 percent of Congressional seats are held by women, only 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women and women are poorer than men in all racial and ethnic groups. Theirs was an incomplete victory, they realize with great disappointment.
256px-LucyStone-sigWhen commenting on which political party is more supportive of women’s rights, the suffragist characters make it clear that women’s suffrage was closely aligned with the Republican Party (Democrat Woodrow Wilson was not a fan), but they felt abandoned by that party once abolition was achieved. As they broke away, Stanton stated, “So far from giving us a helping hand, Republicans and Abolitionists, by their false philosophy—that the safety of the nation demands ignorance rather than education at the polls—have paralyzed the women themselves.” The suffrage newspaper The Revolution concluded, “The party out of power is always in a position to carry principles to their logical conclusions, while the party in power thinks only of what it can afford to do.” Perhaps that is the crux of our incomplete victories as feminists today.
My play is titled The Stone that Started the Ripple [PDF], drawn from one of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s last speeches:
Our successors have a big work before them—much bigger, in fact, than they imagine. We were only the stone that started the ripple, but you are the ripple that is spreading and will eventually cover the whole pond.
Echoing her impassioned speech from 1870, Susan B. Anthony declares in the play,
I do pray … for some terrific shock to startle the women of this nation into a self‑respect which will compel them to see the abject degradation of their present position … which will make them proclaim their allegiance to women first. …Oh, to give them the courage and conscience to speak and act for their own freedom, though they face the scorn and contempt of all the world for doing it!
That “terrific shock” has come: Dwindling access to health care and contraception. Transvaginal ultrasounds. Gender slurs by media personalities and politicians. “Legitimate” rape. Pay inequity. Human trafficking. In short, a surge in the War on Women. It’s long-past time to be startled.
None of these suffragists lived to legally cast a ballot. On her deathbed, Susan B. Anthony told a New York Times reporter, “To think I have had more than 60 years of hard struggle for a little liberty, and then to die without it seems so cruel.”
She died 108 years ago today, on March 13. Let’s recommit to changing the narrative so that our descendants will not have to tell yet another story of forgotten heroes and incomplete victories.
All images from Wikimedia Commons
In addition to her play about the early suffragists, The Stone that Started the Ripple, Patricia A. Nugent is also the author of They Live On: Saying Goodbye to Mom and Dad, a compilation of vignettes portraying the stages of caring for and saying goodbye to a loved one.
On January 20, 1869, Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815 – 1902) became the first woman to testify before Congress. She spoke about woman’s rights and suffrage. Though she had been an abolitionist she, along with her college friend, Susan B. Anthony, were opposed to the 14th and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution because they gave rights to African American men that were not given to women of all races. Interestingly, in 1866 Stanton had been the first woman to run for Congress, even though women did not have the right to vote. She ran from the 8th Congressional district in New York, and garnered only 24 votes out of the 22,000 cast in the election.
Stanton was such a major player in the early women’s movement that space does not permit covering her life with just one blog. Throughout the year, we will celebrate her on anniversary dates of her accomplishments. On her birth date, November 12, we will develop a timeline of her life to put her numerous contributions in context.