Monday, November 26, 2007

Distrust towards the Supreme Court and the "Potty Parable"

In a review article (which can be found here), Lauren Woliver wrote that there was great distrust towards the SC in the 70s because it was thought that "federal judges could and would use superficially innocuous principles to achieve substantive results that many conservative and middle-of-the-road citizens opposed." Examples of such controversial decisions made in the 1970s include busing, pornography, prayer in schools, sex ed, etc. This made garnering support for the Equal Rights Amendment especially difficult. One of the fears of passage of ERA (we mentioned in class) was the "potty parable," which was that "some troublemaker, denied access to the toilet of the opposite sex, would take the matter to the Supreme Court, which once again would order integrated facilities." The "once again" references the forced racial integration of restrooms that occurred years earlier. So by putting racial and sexual integration of restrooms in parallel, ERA opponents warned people of what might happen if the act were to pass: that men and women would be forced to use the same facilities, resulting in a loss of protection for the latter (how so?).

Julie Zhao

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