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September 01, 2008

Obama Smears Palin on Equal Pay

Speaking yesterday in Ohio, Obama said she "seems like a very nice person," but that "she's opposed, like John McCain is, to equal pay for equal work. That doesn't make sense to me."

In fact, I don't know of any specific statements Palin has made on equal pay, and I bet Obama doesn't either. If she's like a large majority of Americans and a large majority of Republicans, she's all for it. So what the hell is Obama talking about?

It all comes back to Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., an employment discrimination case which was decided by the Supreme Court in May 2007. The case went against Ledbetter and the Democrats have been trying to make hay ever since. They went so far as to have Lilly Ledbetter speak at their convention, but they're still not getting much traction out of it.

They would like to be able to claim that the conservative Supreme Court justices (and Republicans in general) are opposed to "equal pay for equal work." Unfortunately, the case wasn't even about that. Rather, it turned on a very dry, very procedural question: "Should Lilly Ledbetter get to sue for employment discrimination even after the statute of limitations had run?" The conservative justices (and Kennedy) said "no." Statutes of limitation exist for a reason and are set by Congress. If Ledbetter wants relief, she should get the statute changed, not come whining to the courts.

Of course Justice Ginsburg flipped out and went through mightily embarrassing judicial contortions justifying her belief that a statute of limitations isn't really a statute of limitations when it comes to discrimination against women. She even went so far as to read her dissent from the bench, a rare event (though not so rare for Ginsburg anymore) that charged up some activists and gave to Democrats the idea that they could use the case against Republicans.

Palin and McCain supported the Court's decision in Ledbetter. Palin's response to Obama's smear should be fairly straightforward. She need only announce that of course she supports equal pay for equal work. She also supports the rule of law and that if Obama thinks the statute of limitations which affected Lilly Ledbetter should be longer, he is welcome to actually do the work in Washington for which he was elected.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 12:27 PM

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