Tag Archives: New Jersey

Tell Me Again How There’s No War on Women…

While I am on the subject of women’s rights, I see that the thoroughly despicable Chris Christie has vetoed a New Jersey bill that would have required businesses to pay men and women equally when they are performing the same tasks.

On average, women in New Jersey make 80% of what men make for substantially similar work.

Christie called the bill “nonsensical” and said it would make New Jersey “very business unfriendly.”

Christie is currently stumping for his former nemesis Donald Trump, who holds a 70% unfavorability rating among women.

Forgive me if I am uncharitable, but the only justification (if one can call it that) for this veto is as part of a pathetic effort to be The Donald’s running mate. I mean, let’s face it–Christie is massively unpopular in New Jersey where, on those rare occasions when he has visited the state he governs, his “accomplishments” have consisted mainly of lowering the state’s bond rating and closing a bridge.

There are a lot of things that people like Christie (and Indiana’s Mike Pence) believe make a state “business unfriendly.” Laws requiring employers to pay a living wage, or give bathroom breaks or sick leave, for example. Or laws against wage theft. (Do you know what would make a state really attractive to business– “business friendly” in the Pence/Christie model? Slavery! It would be great; you wouldn’t have to pay workers at all!)

To Christie–and Pence–“business friendly” measures include right to work laws (often called “right to work for less laws,” because they make it difficult if not impossible for employees to bargain effectively with their employers), and low taxes (although lots of research suggests that the low quality of life that accompanies low taxes is a big turnoff to businesses looking to relocate).

Add to those “business friendly” measures laws making it perfectly acceptable for employers to pay women less than they’d pay a male worker. After all, we women are just incubators, necessary only to produce the next generation of voters and workers, and ultimately beholden to the un-self-aware “mansplainers” and bullies like Christie. Why should we expect wages equal to those of a man?

Come to places like New Jersey and Indiana,  “business-friendly” states where you can hire women and save money!

I’m sure Trump approves. And I’m sure Pence is taking notes….

What Governor Christie Doesn’t Get

Yesterday, the New Jersey Senate voted to recognize same-sex marriage. Indications are that the Assembly (the lower house) will do likewise. Meanwhile, an equal-protection lawsuit is working its way through the New Jersey courts; it would be mooted by this legislation.

Governor Christie has vowed to veto the measure–no surprise. But his professed reason means he is either dishonest or constitutionally ignorant.

Christie says he’ll veto the bill because so important a matter should be subjected to popular vote.

In the United States, we don’t get to vote on other people’s rights. The whole reason for the Bill of Rights was to protect minorities–not just members of different races or religions but people with unpopular ideas or different ‘lifestyles’–from unequal treatment by the government even when a majority of citizens wanted government to treat those minorities unequally. The Bill of Rights is what we call a “counter-majoritarian” instrument; it protects our individual rights against the passions and prejudices of the majority.

Perhaps Governor Christie should consult the famous explanation by Justice Jackson in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnett. 

The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials, and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.

(Of course, in a consistent world, this principle would also apply to state legislatures. No one would get to vote on whether another citizen was entitled to equal rights. But in case it has escaped notice, this is not a consistent world. In any event, as my mother used to say, two wrongs don’t make a right.)

I don’t get to vote on the Governor’s rights, and he doesn’t get to vote on mine. If the legislature doesn’t override his threatened veto, the courts eventually will. That’s not “judicial activism.” It’s application of a bedrock constitutional principle.