Have Women in Law Risen Up From Obscurity? Not So Much in USA Today

The Supreme Court has been in the news a lot recently. Will Obama’s healthcare act be found unconstitutional? Having researched the women of the Supreme Court for the past couple of years, I immediately scanned the below editorial cartoon to find the three women currently serving.  In my forthcoming book I try to make the case that the two younger women on the court (Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan) no longer have as many gender struggles that were faced by the two first women on the court, (Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg).

But Chan Lowe, the artist of this editorial cartoon that appeared in USA Today on March 30, 2012 depicted only two women on the Supreme Court, apparently forgetting that Elena Kagan replaced the retiring John Paul Stevens in 2010. Maybe it seems like a small error, but for women who have fought for equality in the field of law, it is, shall we say, an impeachable offense.   No doubt the witty Justice Kagan would have something amusing to say about not being depicted, but to me the omission is simply no laughing matter.   To be excluded is the ultimate gender struggle.

It’s been more than thirty years since the Supreme Court could no longer be called nine “brethren.”Maybe it is time to allow cameras into the court so that the justices may become at least as well-known as say Tina Fay or Jon Stewart. Likely the artist was using an outdated photo of the court to make his cartoon. Since the Supreme Court has so much power, and that power has been especially long in coming for the women on the court, let’s remember that currently 1/3 of the court is composed of women.

In this case it is good to have art reflect life.

Nichola Gutgold is associate professor of communication arts and sciences at Penn State Lehigh Valley and author of a forthcoming book:  The Rhetoric of Supreme Court Women:  From Obstacles to Options (forthcoming June 2012, Lexington Books).


2 Responses to “Have Women in Law Risen Up From Obscurity? Not So Much in USA Today”

  1. March 31, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Great perspective. Good catch on the in complete court.

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