Should Women Be Allowed to Practice Law?

I am, of course, being facetious.

Consider the following:

Man is, or should be, woman’s protector and defender. The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex evidently unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life. The constitution of the family organization, which is founded in the divine ordinance, as well as in the nature of things, indicates the domestic sphere as that which properly belongs to the domain and functions of womanhood. The harmony, not to say identity, of interest and views which belong, or should belong, to the family institution is repugnant to the idea of a woman adopting a distinct and independent career from that of her husband. … It is true that many women are unmarried and not affected by any of the duties, complications, and incapacities arising out of the married state, but these are exceptions to the general rule. The paramount destiny and mission of woman are to fulfill the noble and benign offices of wife and mother. This is the law of the Creator.  (Emphasis added.)

These are, amazingly, the words of Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. Bradley taken from his concurring opinion in Bradwell v. Illinois, 83 U.S. 130 (1873), which addressed whether the state of Illinois could, consistent with the U.S. Constitution, refuse to admit women to practice law (yes, held the Court).  I came across Bradwell while conducting legal research, and thought it interesting enough to share.

Although Bradwell did not involve claims of workplace discrimination, it nevertheless underscores the importance of legislation (such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) designed to achieve gender equality in the workplace.

That said, one cannot help but wonder why it took another 90 years to pass these laws, and indeed why gender discrimination (including sexual harassment) persists to this day.  Clearly, we have work to do.

If you believe you are being treated unfairly or enduring a hostile work environment because of your sex, please contact New York City sexual harassment lawyer Michael J. Pospis today.

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