Corporate Accountability

Chief Justice Roberts And The Rights Of Women

Will the Chief Justice continue to cast a critical fifth vote to limit reproductive freedom and support employers over their female employees?


Washington, DC – The day before oral argument in an important pregnancy discrimination case at the U.S. Supreme Court in Young v. UPS, Constitutional Accountability Center is releasing the latest Snapshot in its “Roberts at 10” series, Roberts at 10: Roberts’s Quiet, But Critical, Votes To Limit Women’s Rights. Today’s Snapshot looks at Chief Justice Roberts’s votes in cases addressing the rights of women on issues of contraception and reproductive choice, as well as discrimination in the workplace.  


CAC Appellate Counsel Brianne Gorod, the author of today’s Snapshot said, “Under Chief Justice Roberts’s stewardship, the Supreme Court has often been sharply divided in cases involving gender discrimination and reproductive choice, and the results have generally not been good for women. Cases like Young also expose divisions within the conservative legal movement. Young will pit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its 80% winning percentage over the last three Terms against the pleas of social conservatives to recognize the value to families of protecting women from pregnancy discrimination in the workplace—to say nothing of those of other business leaders who recognize that providing accommodations to pregnant workers is actually good for business.”


Read the new “Roberts at 10” snapshot and an excerpt here:


These areas of the law [reproductive choice and workplace discrimination] are obviously important in their own right, but they are also likely to be the focus of considerable attention this Term and next, with a major pregnancy discrimination case already on the Court’s current docket and the potential for significant abortion cases to be added in the near future…. Where there has been disagreement [on women’s issues], the Court has almost always split on its ideological 5-4 axis, with the Chief Justice joining the Court’s majority to limit workplace equality and reproductive freedom, notwithstanding his confirmation hearing assurances that he would respect precedent and that he understood the serious problem posed by gender discrimination. While these decisions cut across different substantive areas of law, it seems fair to say they all do reflect, as Justice Ginsburg put it, a “blind spot” when it comes to issues affecting women’s rights and the practical realities of women’s lives.




Additional Resources:


*  “Roberts at 10” experts available for interviews: CAC President Doug Kendall, Appellate Counsel Brianne Gorod, and Civil Rights Director David Gans.


*  Roberts at 10: Campaign Finance and Voting Rights: Easier to Donate, Harder to Vote:


*  Roberts at 10: The Evolving Story of John Roberts and Congress’s Commerce Clause and Spending Clause Powers:


*  Roberts at 10 Introductory Snapshot: A Look at the First Decade of John Roberts’s Tenure as Chief Justice:




Constitutional Accountability Center ( is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.



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