The President’s Super Power

Published August 25, 2012 Fem2pt0

Here’s another reason to vote in November: when one of the nine members of the United States Supreme Court resigns or retires, the President nominates his or her successor. With few exceptions, the nominee is routinely confirmed by the Senate and serves for life.

The closely split 5-4 decisions on Obamacare, Citizens United, and Bush vs. Gore highlight just how important each justice is. But unless you’re a lawyer as I am, you probably don’t track pronouncements by individual justices.

However, women should pay close attention to comments by Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia is the Court’s arch conservative, an intellectual powerhouse and a ferocious advocate. He has long been on record that the groundbreaking Roe vs. Wade abortion decision was wrong. In a recent interview on Fox News, he opined that Griswold vs. Connecticut (a decision that struck down state restrictions on birth control) was wrong as well.

It isn’t surprising that a Jesuit-educated lawyer with nine children would reach these conclusions. However, Scalia is scrupulous about separating his personal beliefs from his legal scholarship.

Scalia approaches his judicial decisions as a “textualist” and an “originalist.” A textualist looks first to the exact language of the Constitution and then, as an originalist, considers what meanings the words had at the time they were written.

The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution was the basis of the Roe and Griswold decisions. Here’s where the trouble begins: the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted in 1868 during the Reconstruction Era. The Due Process Clause provides that no State shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

Scalia believes that in 1868 the term person did not include “women” because women were viewed as property at the time. Additionally, a person of that era (obviously a male person because no other existed in 1868) would not construe “life, liberty or property” to include contraception or abortion.

In Griswold, the Supreme Court found that a right of privacy existed in the “penumbras” and “emanations” of the Constitution. A couple’s right to contraception was protected by this ephemeral right of privacy. The Supreme Court relied on the same right of privacy as the basis of the Roe decision.

Scalia’s textualist and originalist approaches also led to his conclusion that women have no Constitutional right to be free of discrimination when the Supreme Court considered Virginia Military Academy’s refusal to admit women. He wrote a scathing dissent to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s opinion that any law should be struck down which “denies to women, simply because they are women, full citizenship stature — equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in and contribute to society.”

Scalia’s position is that if citizens want access to abortion or contraception or to prohibit single-sex public schools, they can provide for that through the democratic process of passing laws to that effect. True in theory but increasing partisanship has dramatically diminished this opportunity. As William N. Eskridge Jr., a law professor at Yale noted, “It gives the Supreme Court significantly more power and Congress significantly less power.”

Scalia was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986 by President Reagan and was chosen over Robert Bork, his leading competitor for the nomination, because he was ten years younger and would therefore shape the court’s decisions for a longer time.

Scalia’s positions underscore the importance of the upcoming Presidential election. As the last four years have shown, a President’s agenda can be derailed by legislative opposition.

As you decide how to cast your ballot in the 2012 Presidential election, remember the power of the President to appoint Supreme Court justices. That appointment power may have a longer impact on your life than any other action taken by the President between 2012 and 2016

Why Do We Marry People Like Our Parents

Published August 19 Role/Reboot

Our early childhood plays a major role in our choice of romantic partners. Dr. Harville Hendrix theorizes that “We marry the emotional image of our caregivers—both positive and negative.”

Sometimes, in an effort to resolve troublesome issues with a parent, we choose a partner with the same personality flaw that left us feeling unsatisfied as a child. That choice is a desperate, last-gasp attempt to get the love or attention we longed for.

If that sounds preposterous, let me illustrate the hypothesis by describing my four husbands.

My first husband was 14 years older and, by the standards of my small, blue-collar hometown, well-educated and sophisticated. What parental gap was I trying to fill? I was replacing my alcoholic father who left school in seventh grade to work in a textile mill.

This pairing might have succeeded but for its hidden flaw: My husband was gay and married me as a cover-up. I only learned of his gender preference seven years later when he was arrested for soliciting an undercover police officer.

Several years passed and I married husband number two. This was my first attempt at trying to get love from a narcissist—the love I’d never gotten from my mother.

Before the hate mail starts flying, let me say I loved my mother. I understand many of the events and personalities in her background that made her a narcissist. I’m sorry she was so besieged as a child.

When I use the term “narcissist,” I don’t mean selfish. I mean someone who struggles with underlying profound insecurity by inflating her own importance. A hallmark of narcissists is their inability to feel empathy or give love. They have other harmful traits such as being manipulative and willing to do whatever it takes to get what they want.

Also, they have little or no regard for personal boundaries. They may view their child or partner as part of themselves. If the other doesn’t exist, their feelings and needs don’t exist in the narcissist’s mind. The child may come to feel lost unless coupled with another, especially a narcissistic other.

Marrying a narcissist to get the love your narcissistic parent didn’t give you is, of course, futile. By definition, a narcissist cannot love.

Back to husband number two. Before we married, we discussed my desire to have children. Because he had two children by his first marriage, he wasn’t as enthusiastic as I was, but he readily agreed. When I first brought up stopping contraception so I might conceive, he declined, saying “I lied to get you to marry me.”

I stayed in the marriage for years because I’d been trained by my mother not to expect my needs to be met. Finally, after a separation, he agreed to have a child on the condition that he could quit his job as a nuclear engineer and go to photography school.

We succeeded in adopting, but we weren’t a happy family. He complained that the baby was number one in my life and work was number two. He was only number three and wasn’t receiving enough attention. (Psychologists call this narcissistic supply.)

That takes us to marriages three and four. I married the same personalities and hoped for a different result. I’ll spare you (and them) examples.

Samuel Johnson, a prominent 18th century poet and essayist, observed, “Remarriage is the triumph of hope over experience.” After four marriages, I no longer hope to get love from a narcissist.

How to Beat the ‘Old Boys’ at Their Own Game

By Kate McGuinness
Published in Forbes, August 7, 2012.

Wall Street is notorious for its lack of female firepower. Ilene H. Lange, Catalyst’s president and chief executive officer, has gone on record blaming the shortfall on financial industry’s “really macho” culture and gender stereotypes.

In an interview with The New York Times (On Wall Street, Gender Bias Runs Deep) she is quoted as saying, “What’s looked up to on Wall Street are people who swagger, people who will do the deal at any cost, people who will work day and night, hour and hour, for lots and lots of money and they don’t care about anything else.”

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