Friday, January 23, 2009

Republican women and the Lilly Ledbetter Act

Republican women Senators broke with their party to help pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, but Republican women in the House didn’t.

Ledbetter had sued her employer when she discovered that she was making far less than her male collegues, but (in a 5-4 decision) the Supreme Court decided that she hadn't discovered it quickly enough:
Although Ledbetter did the same job as her colleagues, and had more seniority than some of them, they were all being paid considerably more than she was. Ledbetter sued, under the Civil Rights Act, and proved that her lower pay was the result of discrimination early in her career, the effects of which had never been remedied. But victory was short-lived; the verdict was overturned on appeal, and then the Supreme Court ruled against her. The Court did not deny that Ledbetter had been discriminated against. However, according to the Civil Rights Act, Ledbetter’s lawsuit had to be filed within a hundred and eighty days, and the Court ruled that the clock started ticking with the first act of discrimination, almost two decades before Ledbetter found out what was going on.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act overturns that decision, clarifying that the clock starts ticking with the most recent discriminatory paycheck. Last year, Republicans successfully filibustered the bill and George Bush had threatened to veto it if it got to his desk. Yesterday's bill passed the Senate 61-36, enough to stop another threatened filibuster. Without the support of Republicans Susan Collins (R-ME), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) it would have fallen short.

Arlen Specter (R-PA) was the only Republican man in the Senate who joined them.

But before you conclude that Republican women and Republican men are hopelessly divided on this issue, realize that only 3 House Republicans supported the bill; Ed Whitfield (KY), Don Young (AK) and Christopher Smith (NJ) - all men.

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