Palin on Lily Ledbetter Pay Act: “A Boon for Trial Lawyers”

Emily Douglas

Sarah Palin talked to Katie Couric about her views on abortion, but also on the Lily Ledbetter Act and equal pay.

At the G Spot, Kathleen Geier turns our attention to a little-noticed segment of Katie Couric’s interview with Sarah Palin — when Couric asks Palin to explain her position on the Lily Ledbetter Pay Act.  The Ledbetter Act is Congress’s attempt to undo the damage done by the Supreme Court in the decision Ledbetter vs. Goodyear, in which the Court held that because Lily Ledbetter sued for pay discrimination more than 180 days after the first discriminatory paycheck (in fact, she sued twenty years later, because that’s when she found out), she could not seek retribution for all those years of unequal pay. Get this: Palin and her running mate, John McCain, "will not stand for any measure that would result in a woman being paid less than a man for equal work."  But would they support a measure that would ensure that women can sue to protect their right to equal pay?  No way — such legislation will only line trial lawyers’ pockets.  It has nothing to do with justice!

Geier points out that Palin talks about women bringing equal pay lawsuits the same way the religious right talks about women seeking abortion — as if they’re not, at least not on purpose. Palin says: "The Ledbetter pay act — it was gonna turn into a boon for trial lawyers who, I believe, could have taken advantage of women."  Just like the doctors who "perform abortions on women."

Here’s the relevant excerpt from the transcript (let go of your need for subjects and predicates in sentences before you begin!):

Couric: Where do you stand on the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act?

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Palin: I’m absolutely for equal pay for equal work. The Ledbetter pay act – it was gonna turn into a boon for trial lawyers who, I believe, could have taken advantage of women who were many, many years ago who would allege some kind of discrimination. Thankfully, there are laws on the books, there have been since 1963, that no woman could be discriminated against in the workplace in terms of anything, but especially in terms of pay. So, thankfully we have the laws on the books and they better be enforced.

Couric: The Ledbetter act sort of lengthens the time a woman can sue her company if she’s not getting equal pay for equal work. Why should a fear of lawsuits trump a woman’s ability to do something about the fact that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. And that’s today.

Palin: There should be no fear of a lawsuit prohibiting a woman from making sure that the laws that are on the books today are enforced. I know in a McCain-Palin administration we will not stand for any measure that would result in a woman being paid less than a man for equal work.

Couric: Why shouldn’t the Ledbetter act be in place? You think it would result in lawsuits brought by women years and years ago. Is that your main problem with it?

Palin: It would have turned into a boon for trial lawyers. Again, thankfully with the existing laws we have on the books, they better be enforced. We won’t stand for anything but that. We won’t stand for any discrimination in the workplace – that there isn’t any discrimination in America.

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