Legal decisions issued by the federal courts, and particularly the U.S. Supreme Court, frequently have a political dimension. With each election, one or both major political parties frequently invoke such cases for political purposes. In this election cycle, one case that appears to be getting significant attention is the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire, 550 S. Ct ___ (2007) a case of statutory interpretation of the Equal Pay Act. In Ledbetter, the Supreme Court held by a five-justice majority that employers are protected from lawsuits over race or gender pay discrimination if the claims are based on decisions made by the employer 180 days ago or more. The decision attracted a substantial amount of press and criticism, on its substantially limiting effect on claims of discrimination in pay.
On Tuesday, the plaintiff in the case, Lilly Ledbetter, spoke at the Democratic National Convention. An article on the speech can be found here. Ledbetter received a standing ovation at the convention, and the Democratic party has taken on the issue and has proposed legislation to effectively override the decision.