Historic progress for women on the bench

Stephanie Rose confirmed to Southern District of Iowa, marking historic progress for women on the bench during Obama’s first term.
Judge Rose

On Monday, September 10, the Senate confirmed Stephanie Rose as a federal judge for the Southern District of Iowa by a vote of 89-1, with only Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) voting no. Judge Rose’s confirmation highlights President Obama’s historic record on appointing women to the federal bench; in less than four years, President Obama has appointed 72 women as federal judges, matching the total number of women appointed during George W. Bush’s entire presidency. Judge Rose is also the first woman to serve as a district court judge in the Southern District of Iowa.  In addition to his historic number of female judicial appointments, 44.3% of President Obama’s appointees have been women, the highest percentage of any president.  President Clinton had the next best record, as 29.4% of his appointees were women. 

For a detailed breakdown of how President Obama compares with his predecessors in terms of the racial and gender diversity of his judicial appointees, please see the Alliance’s Judicial Selection Snapshot.  

Wal-Mart: too big to sue?

Chris tells her story in Unequal Justice
When Chris Kwapnoski worked at Sam’s Club, a Wal-Mart affiliate, managers told her that she needed to “doll up” and “blow the cobwebs off” her makeup if she wanted to get ahead. At the same time, a male associate was given a larger raise because he had “a family to support,” even though at the time Chris was a single mother raising two young children.

And when Chris and more than a million other women joined together to hold Wal-Mart accountable for the discriminatory pay and promotion practices of its management, the Supreme Court told them that Wal-Mart was too big to sue.

In Wal-Mart v. Dukes, a narrow majority of the Court ruled that the 1.5 million women who faced systemic discrimination as Wal-Mart workers did not have enough in common to qualify for a class action, ignoring the volumes of anecdotal and statistical evidence to the contrary. And because of the Wal-Mart decision, it is now harder for employees and consumers to band together to fight corporate misbehavior. The Court significantly raised the bar for forming a class, which is one of the only effective ways to fight against widespread injustices committed by large, deep-pocketed corporate interests.

Chris’s story is featured in AFJ’s latest documentary film, Unequal Justice: The Relentless Rise of the 1% Court, which will be released this fall. The short documentary explores the growing pro-corporate bias in key Court decisions, like Wal-Mart v. Dukes, and their real-world impact on ordinary Americans. Click here to learn more about the film and sign up to host a screening.