Wedging the GOP

Bills in the House and the Senate propose to overturn Ledbetter v. Goodyear, the case in which the reactionary faction of the Supreme Court slammed the courthouse door on current victims of long-standing race and sex discrimination. The Republicans seem inclined to oppose them. Good! Let’s vote on this one often.

When a party controls the Congress, it has the capacity to make members of the other party cast “wedge” votes, votes that split their base or their financial backers from the swing voters they need to win a general election.

For example, my guess is that very few swing voters, and roughly none of the Democratic base, would need to think twice about the question whether someone who’s being underpaid now due to earlier adverse employment decisions made on the basis of race or sex ought to be able to get relief. But the corporate and small-business paymasters of the Republican party, plus the racist and anti-feminist part of the Republican voting base, won’t be at all happy about reversing the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling &#8212 along the usual factional lines &#8212 barring the door of the courtroom to the current victims of long-standing abuses.

It looks as if the Democrats are going to be clever and tough enough to bring this issue to the floor of both Houses. (Clinton and Obama are both co-sponsors, and Clinton makes the case part of her stump speech.) And it looks as if the Republicans are going to kowtow to their paymasters and to the bigots in their voting base rather than trying to appeal to centrist voters. Good. The Republicans may well have the votes to filibuster this in the Senate, but it can be tacked on to various must-pass bills in conference committee. Let’s vote on this one often.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: