Litigation and Social Change: Developing Women’s Rights in the Twentieth Century

C|M|LAW Professor Emerita Jane M. Picker returned to CSU on Tuesday, October 18, to speak on Litigation and Social Change: Developing Women’s Rights in the Twentieth Century.  Professor Picker spoke, in particular, about a case she argued in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973, LaFleur v. Cleveland Board of Education.  Her client, Jo Carol LaFleur (now Jo Carol Nesset-Sale) was present to introduce her.  LaFleur, then a Cleveland school teacher, had been suspended from her job because she was four months pregnant.  Under the applicable maternity leave rules, teachers were barred from Cleveland classrooms starting in their forth month of pregnancy.  LaFleur wanted to remain in the classroom and her baby was not due until July, well after the end of the school year.  Picker took her case, pro bono, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and won.  Of course, by then LaFleur’s child was long-since born, and LaFleur herself had gone on to attend law school.  But as a result of this effort the women’s protective laws, like that which had barred LaFleur from the classroom, were overturned not only in the Cleveland schools, but all over the country.

For more information, see Chapter 13 in Peter Irons’ The Courage of Their Convictions- Sixteen Americans Who Fought Their Way to the Supreme Court, at: https://www.law.csuohio.edu/sites/default/files/newsevents/ironscouragechap13.pdf

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