Supreme Court Docket Features Petty Disputes |
October 1, 2007
Irvine, CA--As the Supreme Court begins its new term, two cases reflect the Court's unending struggle to interpret the nation's employment discrimination laws.
In one case, Federal Express v. Holowecki, the Court must decide whether a plaintiff missed the deadline for filing an age-discrimination suit. In another, Sprint/United Management v. Mendelsohn, the issue is whether witnesses besides the plaintiff should be allowed to testify that they too were subjected to discrimination (so-called "me, too" evidence).
"The Supreme Court should be dedicated to protecting individual rights, not fine-tuning laws that abridge those rights," said Thomas Bowden, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute. "But as long as Congress is permitted to enact laws denying an employer's right to set its own hiring and firing standards, the Supreme Court's valuable time will be occupied with these petty disputes."
Both pending cases involve the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits basing decisions on an employee's age. In Holowecki, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission interviewed the plaintiff but neglected to finalize his "intake questionnaire" into a formal "charge of discrimination" as required by statute. In Mendelsohn, the plaintiff wanted to call as witnesses five former employees who were fired by a different supervisor, allegedly because of their age.
"The Founding Fathers envisioned a government that would safeguard life, liberty, and property, and they entrusted the Supreme Court with the task of striking down legislation that invades those rights," Bowden said. "To its discredit, the modern Court has defaulted on this responsibility, rubber-stamping laws that violate the rights of ownership and free trade. The Court should return to fundamentals and re-assess the constitutionality of America's employment discrimination laws."
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Thomas A. Bowden is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute, focusing on legal issues. A former lawyer and law school instructor who practiced for twenty years in Baltimore, Maryland, his Op-Eds have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Daily News, and many other newspapers. Mr. Bowden has given dozens of radio interviews and has appeared on the Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes.
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