Lies upon Ledbetter lies

I’ve written several times about the “Lilly Ledbetter legislation,” which changes the rules for bringing lawsuits for alleged pay discrimination, enabling plaintiffs to bring stale claims. As I demonstrated here, the legislation is based on the false claim that the Supreme Court decision in Lilly Ledbetter’s case left plaintiffs who don’t discover concealed discrimination for many years unable to overcome the statute of limitations defense, and thus unable to remedy wrongdoing.

In fact, such plaintiffs could overcome that defense in these circumstances. For the Supreme Court has long recognized that the limitations period in federal discrimination cases can be extended or tolled where, among other situations, the plaintiff has no reason to suspect discrimination at the time of the disputed event. Ledbetter could not rely on tolling because, although she latter asserted othewise, she testified under oath in her case that she knew of the alleged discrimination years before she filed suit.

Inasmuch as the Ledbetter legislation is based so patently on a lie, I found it ironic that it was the first bill President Obama signed into law. The irony was all the stronger because, as Hans Bader shows, the Obama campaign had shamelessly misrepresented the Supreme Court’s ruling in Ledbetter’s case.

Bader’s column also points to another irony I had missed. Obama promised during his campaign that he would not sign legislation into law without giving the public five days in which to comment. “Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them,” his campaign Web site intoned. “As president,” the campaign promised, “Obama will not sign any nonemergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House Web site for five days.”

How altogether fitting (if not proper) that Obama signed the Ledbetter legislation into law just two days after it was passed, without the opportunity for comment.


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