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Obama's equal pay gambit

In a presumed effort to appeal to female "Clinton voters," Barack Obama today criticized Senator McCain for being unwilling "to stand up for equal pay as president":

Democrat Barack Obama, determined to win over female voters, talked Monday about the women who helped shape his life in arguing that he would be a better proponent of equal pay than Republican John McCain.

The presumed Democratic nominee toured a baking facility and chatted with female workers about their economic challenges.

Sen. Obama told how he was raised by a single mother and his grandmother, who made sacrifices to support their family. He told them that Sen. McCain opposed legislation earlier this year that would have made it easier for women to sue their employers for pay discrimination. Obama supported the bill.

"I'll continue to stand up for equal pay as president -- Senator McCain won't, and that's a real difference in this election," Obama said.

McCain has said he supports equal pay for women but had said the measure would lead to more lawsuits.

The measure in question is none other than H.R. 2831, the "Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007," with which PointofLaw readers should be very familiar.

As we've pointed out here (and the justices themselves pointed out in Ledbetter), the plaintiff in the epnoymous case could have had a potentially valid suit had her attorney bothered to file under the Equal Pay Act, which remains in force. The legislation Obama supports and McCain opposes is nothing more than a sop to Trial Lawyers, Inc., which would open up decades-old employment actions to judicial review (as well as expanding the scope of potential litigation to non-compensation decisions and the scope of potential litigants to non-employees).

Fortunately, Obama doesn't seem to be arguing his case by reference to his far-more-extreme piece of legislation that would institute national "comparable worth."



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.