At last night’s second presidential debate between the Democratic candidates, domestic policy affecting women was not an issue, despite two recent catastrophic Supreme Court decisions for women’s rights. The moderator, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, steered the debate to focus on the Iraq war, posing hypothetical questions and asking for “yes or no” answers.
“The war in Iraq is of utmost importance and must be brought to an end,” Feminist Majority President and political scientist Eleanor Smeal said. “But domestic women’s and civil rights issues, including abortion rights and the protection of employment rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and of education rights under Title IX, must be part of the debates.”
In the past two months, the US Supreme Court has handed down two decisions — Gonzales v. Carhart and Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company — that will severely impact women’s rights and civil rights. In Carhart, the Supreme Court upheld the Bush administration’s federal ban on an abortion procedure without an exception for the health of a pregnant woman. The ruling in Ledbetter effectively whittled an employee’s ability to challenge wage discrimination based on sex (for this case, though Title VII covers race discrimination as well), especially if the discrimination is ongoing.