The Washington Post takes a cheap shot

Today’s frontpage headline in the Washington Post proclaims, “Roberts Resisted Women’s Rights.” However, authors Amy Goldstein, R. Jeffrey Smith, and Jo Becker are unable to point to any specific established “women’s right” that Roberts resisted. The article begins by citing a remark Roberts made questioning whether the “common good” is served by having more lawyers and fewer homemakers. This was probably a half joking, half serious shot at the legal profession. In any case, the comment doesn’t suggest that any limit should be placed on the right of homemakers to become lawyers.
The authors also point to Roberts’ view that the doctrine of “comparable worth” is “pernicious” and “anti-capitalist.” Under this doctrine, a female working in a job held predominantly by women (file clerk, for example) could claim that she is entitled to higher pay because her job is worth as much as a higher paying job at the same company held mostly by men (for example, truck driver). The right to litigate such a claim has never been established, and Roberts was certainly correct in viewing the comparable worth doctrine as anti-capitalist (and, to the extent one believes in capitalism, pernicious). Why? Because the doctrine calls on judges or bureaucrats to assess the “worth” of the jobs in dispute. If the judge or bureaucrat disagees with the employer’s view as to what these jobs are worth, then he or she adjusts the pay. Having the government set pay rates in the private sector based on its assessment of worth is anti-capitalist.
I was working for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when radical attorneys in the agency, working with radical feminists on the outside, first propounded the notion of comparable worth. Upon hearing the idea, my boss, a liberal and one of the pioneer female lawyers in the federal government, told me, “there’s another name for this — Socialism.” She was right and so was John Roberts. Shame of the Post for casting his opposition to comparable worth as resistance to women’s rights.


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