Category Archives: Laws/Legislation

Women’s Rights: Primary Sources and Teaching Activities

Source: National Archives, DocsTeach, 2019

Women’s Rights and Roles in American History

When our Constitution was written, it was silent on women. Excluded from most of the rights and privileges of citizenship, women operated in limited and rigid roles while enslaved women were excluded from all. Yet women have actively participated as citizens—organizing, marching, petitioning—since the founding of our country. Sometimes quietly, and sometimes with a roar, women’s roles have been redefined. Use this page to find primary sources and document-based teaching activities related to women’s rights and changing roles in American history. Many of the documents, photographs, and other sources are also featured in the exhibits Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote, at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, and One Half of the People: Advancing Equality for Women, traveling the country.

Related:
Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote
Source: Library of Congress, 2019

This exhibition will tell the story of the long campaign for women’s suffrage – considered the largest reform movement in American history – which lasted more than seven decades. The struggle was not for the fainthearted. For years, determined women organized, lobbied, paraded, petitioned, lectured, picketed, and faced imprisonment.

The exhibition draws from the Library’s extensive collection of personal papers of such figures as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Mary Church Terrell, Harriot Stanton Blatch, Nannie Helen Burroughs, and Carrie Chapman Catt, as well as the organizational records of the National Woman’s Party and the National American Woman Suffrage Association, among others. Documents, images, video and audio recordings trace the movement leading to the women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, through the contributions of suffragists who worked to persuade women that they deserved the same rights as men, the divergent political strategies and internal divisions they overcame, the push for a federal women’s suffrage amendment and the legacy of this movement.

Related Links

  • Votes for Women: Selected Images from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
  • Web Guide: Nineteenth Amendment, Researcher and Reference Services
  • Digital Collections

  • Susan B. Anthony Papers
  • Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton Papers
  • Mary Church Terrell Papers
  • National American Woman Suffrage Association Papers
  • Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman’s Party
  • Suffrage Sheet Music
  • For Teachers

  • Primary Source Set: Women’s Suffrage
  • Suffrage Strategies: Voices for Votes
  • Votes for Women: Selections from the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection 1848-1921
  • Votes for Women: Suffrage Pictures
  • Women Have Had The Right To Vote For 100 Years. Here’s How To Celebrate
    Source: Mikaela Lefrak, WAMU, May 16, 2019

    The history of women’s suffrage and the landscape of Washington, D.C. are inextricably tied. It took decades of women organizing near the Capitol, picketing outside the White House, lobbying Congress and marching on the National Mall to win the right to vote. This June 4 marks the 100-year anniversary of Congress’ passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the government from denying the right to vote on the basis of sex. Museums and institutions around the District are marking the centennial with exhibitions on the movement’s history and leaders. Here are five of our top picks for places to learn about key women suffragists, the movement’s strategic wins and moral failings and how the fight for voting rights continues today.

    1. Untold Stories: The National Portrait Gallery …..
    2. Primary Sources: The National Archives …..
    3. The Room Where It Happened: Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument …..
    4. Personal Papers Galore: The Library of Congress …..
    5: Tables And Wagons: The National Museum of American History …..
    …..

    Secrecy versus sunshine: Efforts to hide government records never stop

    Source: Brent Walth, The Conversation, May 15, 2019

    ….All 50 states give the public the right to see government records and documents, but many state legislatures are weighing changes in their open-records laws.

    These changes rarely end up making our government more transparent. Instead, lawmakers often try to conceal public records from the people who own them – that is, you and me.

    Public records laws exist to allow us to see into the decision-making of our government. When bureaucrats make efforts to obscure our view into their actions, it serves only to undermine government officials’ accountability.

    It also diminishes the public’s understanding of, and faith in, democracy. ….

    The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): Historical Overview, Funding, and Reauthorization

    Source: Lisa N. Sacco, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R45410, April 23, 2019

    The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was originally enacted in 1994 (P.L. 103-322). It addressed congressional concerns about violent crime, and violence against women in particular, in several ways. Among other things, it allowed for enhanced sentencing of repeat federal sex offenders; mandated restitution to victims of specified federal sex offenses; and authorized grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement entities to investigate and prosecute violent crimes against women.

    This report provides a brief history of VAWA and an overview of the crimes addressed through the act. It includes brief descriptions of earlier VAWA reauthorizations and a more-detailed description of the most recent reauthorization in 2013. It also briefly addresses reauthorization activity in the 116th Congress. The report concludes with a discussion of VAWA programs and a five-year history of funding from FY2015 through FY2019.

    Is Algorithmic Affirmative Action Legal?

    Source: Jason R. Bent, Georgetown Law Journal, Forthcoming, Date Written: April 16, 2019

    From the abstract:
    It is now understood that machine learning algorithms can produce unintentionally biased results. For the last few years, legal scholars have been debating whether the disparate treatment or disparate impact theories available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act are capable of protecting against algorithmic discrimination. But machine learning scholars are not waiting for the legal answer. Instead, they have been working to develop a wide variety of technological “fairness” solutions that can be used to constrain machine learning algorithms. They have discovered that simply blinding algorithms to protected characteristics like sex or race is insufficient to prevent algorithmic discrimination. Given enough data, algorithms will identify and leverage on proxies for the protected characteristics. Recognizing this, some scholars have proposed “fairness through awareness” or “algorithmic affirmative action” — actively using sensitive variables like race or sex to counteract unidentified sources of bias and achieve some mathematical measure of fairness in algorithmic decisions. But is algorithmic affirmative action legal? This article is the first to comprehensively consider that question under both Title VII and the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The article evaluates the legality of the leading fairness techniques advanced in the machine learning literature, including group fairness, individual fairness, and counterfactual fairness. The article concludes that existing affirmative action doctrine under Title VII and existing constitutional equal protection jurisprudence leave sufficient room for at least some forms of algorithmic affirmative action.

    Status of State Medicaid Expansion Decisions: Interactive Map

    Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, April 26, 2019

    To date, 37 states (including DC) have adopted the Medicaid expansion and 14 states have not adopted the expansion. Current status for each state is based on KFF tracking and analysis of state expansion activity.

    To view this data in a table format, click here. To download a Powerpoint slide of the expansion status map, click here.

    Learn for Free: Law Courses & Lectures Online

    Source: Inner Temple Library, Updated April 2019

    From interactive courses spanning several weeks to quick introductory tasters, there is a huge amount of free learning materials available online. Covering a range of topics and jurisdictions, there’s something for everyone (so long as you’re into law)!
    MOOCs, Tasters and Courseware
    Lecture Collections and Podcasts
    Open Access Books and Journals

    Courses include:
    Labor Law and Employment Discrimination
    Missouri State University on YouTube

    ‘Legal, regulatory, and ethical issues related to employer-employee relationship, including employment-at-will doctrine, discrimination and union contracts.’

    Law, Social Movements, and Public Policy: Comparative and International Experience
    MIT Open Courseware

    ‘This course studies the interaction between law, courts, and social movements in shaping domestic and global public policy. Examines how groups mobilize to use law to affect change and why they succeed and fail. The class uses case studies to explore the interplay between law, social movements, and public policy in current areas such as gender, race, labor, trade, environment, and human rights. Finally, it introduces the theories of public policy, social movements, law and society, and transnational studies.’

    Technology, Law, and the Working Environment
    MIT Open Courseware

    ‘This course addresses the relationship between technology-related problems and the law applicable to work environment. The National Labor Relations Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, state worker’s compensation, and suits by workers in the courts are discussed in the course. Problems related to occupational health and safety, collective bargaining as a mechanism for altering technology in the workplace, job alienation, productivity, and the organization of work are also addressed. Prior courses or experience in environmental, public health, or law-related areas will be useful.’

    Law
    Cornell University on iTunesU

    ‘Andrew D. White, Cornell’s first president, established a law school to produce “not swarms of hastily prepared pettifoggers, but a fair number of well-trained, large-minded, morally-based lawyers in the best sense.” Cornell Law graduates are found in major law firms and corporate law departments; and as public defenders or winning discrimination cases. Undergraduates can take courses in labor, business, and international law, and study the impact of a legal system on societies and individuals.’

    Gender and the Law in U.S. History
    MIT Open Courseware

    ‘This subject explores the legal history of the United States as a gendered system. It examines how women have shaped the meanings of American citizenship through pursuit of political rights such as suffrage, jury duty, and military service, how those political struggles have varied for across race, religion, and class, as well as how the legal system has shaped gender relations for both women and men through regulation of such issues as marriage, divorce, work, reproduction, and the family. The course readings will draw from primary and secondary materials in American history, as well as some court cases. However, the focus of the class is on the broader relationship between law and society, and no technical legal knowledge is required or assumed.’

    Introduction to Alternative Dispute Resolution
    Alison

    ‘The free online course Introduction to Alternative Dispute Resolution describes the benefits of using ADR as a conflict resolution method, how to prepare for an ADR process, and how confidentiality is maintained during the ADR process. The course also outlines both the common and uncommon methods of ADR and the situations in which each method can be used.’

    Introduction to Copyright Law in America
    MIT on Alison

    ‘With the wide-spread use of the Internet copyright has become a very important issue for publishers of books, music, software, films, television programmes and many other industries. This free online course is an introduction to copyright law as practised in the United States, however, the principles and concepts will be of interest to legal professionals in other jurisdictions. The course reviews the structure of copyright under federal law, the basics of legal research and legal citations. It examines copyright and its applications in the music and broadcasting industries, and looks at legal cases involving examples such as Napster, Grokster and peer-to-peer file sharing services. It also reviews software licensing, and the General Public License and free software. This course will be of great interest to legal and business professionals who would like to learn more about copyright law and how it is practised in the United States, and to students who are pursuing a career in the legal professions and would like to learn more about this very important legal topic.’

    State-by-State Estimates of the Coverage and Funding Consequences of Full Repeal of the ACA

    Source: Linda J. Blumberg, Matthew Buettgens, John Holahan, Clare Wang Pan, Urban Institute, March 26, 2019

    From the abstract:
    This analysis provides information on some of the consequences should a case pending before the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit be decided in favor of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs argue that the entire Affordable Care Act be eliminated due to the fact that he individual mandate penalties were set to $0 beginning with plan year 2019. We estimate the state-by-state implications of full ACA repeal for insurance coverage and government funding of health care in 2019. Our estimates take into account 2019 marketplace enrollment and premiums as well as recent Medicaid data.

    Fundraising for Favors? Linking Lobbyist-Hosted Fundraisers to Legislative Benefits

    Source: Amy Melissa McKay, Political Research Quarterly, Online First, April 24, 2018
    (subscription required)

    From the abstract:
    Do legislators and lobbyists trade favors? This study uses uncommon data sources and plagiarism software to detect a rarely observed relationship between interest group lobbyists and sitting Members of Congress. Comparison of letters to a Senate committee written by lobby groups to legislative amendments introduced by committee members reveals similar and even identical language, providing compelling evidence that groups persuaded legislators to introduce amendments valued by the group. Moreover, the analysis suggests that these language matches are more likely when the requesting lobby group hosts a fundraising event for the senator. The results hold while controlling for ideological agreement between the senator and the group, the group’s campaign contributions to the senator, and the group’s lobbying expenditures, annual revenue, and home-state connections.