John Roberts' Wage Bias

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Since I’ve been focusing quite a bit on the good stuff about John Roberts, I figured it’s only fair to take a look at some of the more suspect stances he has taken.

Recently a memo was discovered that exposed Roberts’ views about unequal wages between the sexes. That’s right. He wasn’t in favor of fixing the problem. That’s troubling on many different levels, not the least of which is that this man is going to be taking the place of a woman Justice who championed this cause. That’s not to say he has to feel the same way, but I think I can make a fairly reasonable assumption that O’Connor would not be very happy if this is how he truly felt.

In any event, take a read:

As an assistant White House counsel in 1984, John Roberts scoffed at the notion that men and women should earn equal pay in jobs of comparable importance, and he belittled three female Republican members of Congress who promoted that idea to the Reagan administration.

The memo from Roberts, now President Bush’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, was a response to a letter that the three women – one of whom was Olympia Snowe of Maine, now a U.S. senator – had sent to the administration. The women had said that the concept of “equal pay for equal work” had not sufficiently boosted women’s wages because women were not in many of the same fields as men. The three were promoting the notion of equal pay for different jobs of comparable value, based on factors such as skills and responsibility.

In his memo to White House counsel Fred Fielding, Roberts said the women’s letter “contends that more is required because women still earn only $0.60 for every $1 earned by men, ignoring the factors that explain that apparent disparity, such as seniority, the fact that many women frequently leave the work force for extended periods of time. … I honestly find it troubling that three Republican representatives are so quick to embrace such a radical redistributive concept. Their slogan may as well be, ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to her gender.’ “

I don’t agree with Roberts about this at all. However, another thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the fact that this memo was written 21 years ago. People’s attitudes change, and I’m hoping that’s the case here. The wage bias in the corporate world is demonstratable and we need to start being honest about it.

And as a side note, I was pretty disappointed that this article is titled “Roberts scoffed at equal-pay theory.” Really? You’re actually going to use the word “scoff”? Personally, I think that’s a judgement call they shouldn’t be making, but whatever, I digress…

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