Ledbetter Legislating, Ledbetter Politicking

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

On Wednesday, Michelle Obama and Lilly Ledbetter, a leader in the battle of equal pay for equal work, take part in a roundtable in Richmond, Va. and headline a Virginia Women for Obama voter registration rally.

Here in Washington during Jeopary last night, the Obama campaign ran an anti-McCain ad, criticizing the Republican presidential candidate for supposedly opposing equal pay for woman.

Along with Ledbetter’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, these developments suggest that the Senate would hold another vote on legislation prompted by the Supreme Court ruling, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The bill, H.R. 2831, failed to gain cloture in the Senate in April on a vote of 56-42

But indications we’re getting from Capitol Hill is that time is simply running out. Senate Majority Leader Reid just said on the Senate floor that there will be a vote on tax extenders, and then there’s energy legislation that must be debated. Advocates of Ledbetter may have to settle for punctuating their argument “UNFAIR” with a period, not an exclamation mark.

As we’ve written before, H.R. 2831 is a horrible bill that has little to do with fairness. The legislation would throw employment law into chaos, removing all statutes of limitations for discrimination lawsuits and allowing legal claims not just by the person who is charging discrimination but by people “affected” by the supposed discrimination. The bill would be a boon to trial lawyers, but disastrous to employers who could be sued 20, even 30 years after the alleged acts of discrimination took place.

If time runs out for another politically motivated vote on the bill? That would be fair.


  • Business Industry Letter to the Senate on Ledbetter, April 22, 2008 – 05/15/2008 (PDF)
  • Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 2831, Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – 05/15/2008 (PDF)
  • NAM Letter to Senate HELP Committee on Ledbetter – 01/23/2008 (PDF)
  • UPDATE (3:30 p.m.): The Senate Judiciary today announced a committee hearing for next Tuesday, September 23, “Barriers to Justice: Examining Equal Pay for Equal Work.” Sole witness so far? Lilly Ledbetter.

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