Lapas attēli

Northrup, professor of economics, Bryn Mawr; Dean Edith Abbott, of the University of Chicago; Dr. Elizabeth Morrissey, of Baltimore; such women distinguished in public affairs as Miss Mary Anderson, the Honorable Frances Perkins, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Miss Anna Lord Strauss, Mrs. Maud Wood Park, Mrs. Qunicy Wright, Mrs. Chase Going Woodhouse, the Honorable Genevieve Earle; such eminent jurists as Judge Louise Charlton, Birmingham, Ala.; Judge Fay Bentley and Judge Marion Harron, of Washington; Judge N. Ruth Wood, of St. Louis; and Prof. Harriet Daggett, University of Louisiana Law School. A complete list of the individuals composing the advisory council of the National Committee on the Status of Women in the United States is attached to this statement.

The National Committee on the Status of Women warmly endorses the principles and provisions of the women's status bill, HÍ. R. 2007. The bill declares a definite national policy on the status of women, which I will discuss more fully later.

The bill provides for a Commission on the Legal Status of Women to be appointed by the President which shall study and review the economic, civil, political, and social status of women and the extent of discriminations based on sex.

It further recommends legislation necessary to bring the laws and administrative practices of the United States Government in conformity with the declared policy as expressed in section 1 of the bill.

The bill requires all Federal agencies to review their regulations and practices and, to the extent permitted by existing legislation, immediately to conform them to the declared policy; to report to the Commission as to any remaining distinctions and the reasons therefor.

The bill further urges the States to declare a similar basic policy and to bring their laws and governmental practices in conformity with it.

The first major provision of the women's status bill is a realistic declaration of national policy-it would declare in law the principle of fundamental equality as between men and women. By its specific language it avoids the ambiguities which have tended to make the effort to embody this principle in a constitutional amendment unrealistic in purpose and uncertain in effect. Moreover, the women's status bill provides a mechanism to stimulate immediate action to expunge remaining unfair discriminations and disabilities from the statute books of the Federal Government and of the several States; and would hasten the statutory recognition of the principle enunciated in the United Nations Charter calling forhuman rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to



The preamble to the women's status bill quotes from this section of the United Nations Charter (art. 1) and declares thatit should be the purpose of the United States and its several States and political subdivisions, to bring their laws and the administration thereof into harmony with these principles. Indeed, the sense of urgency in the world-wide struggle to promote the emancipation of women is one of the most compelling reasons for requesting the adoption of this bill in the present session of Congress, so our women leaders may unite their efforts at once in the large struggle. The United States is and always has been one of the


acknowledged leaders among the nations of the world in promoting the social, economic, and political advancement of women. "Our example is looked to; our guidance is sought.

I would like to review at this point the implication in some testimony presented earlier that the United States Constitution is not consistent with the equal-rights promise in the United Nations Charter. Mr. Chairman, we look forward, as I am sure everyone does, to our progressive growth within the Charter's principles. Neither do I want to minimize the legal discriminations against women that remain in the United States. It does not follow, however, that the equal-rights amendment would fulfill our United Nations commitment. The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, whose statements have been commended by our opponents as a standard, is clearly on record in favor of differential treatment for men and women. For instance, in 1947 the Commission called for "consideration on grounds of health

equally to men and women and special consideration to women on grounds of motherhood." In its meeting this year the Commission referred frequently to the need for maternity leave and to the need for protection of the rights of motherhood. Furthermore, the United States, which is now a member of the Commission, has repeatedly taken the lead in urging elimination of discriminations, and especially immediate action to secure suffrage and political rights for women throughout the United Nations. The women's status bill is therefore in line with the recommendations of this Commission and you will note that it has the support of Dorothy Kenyon, our United States representative, on it.

In declaring that it shall be the policy of the Federal Government to abolish distinctions based on sex, except such as are reasonably justified by differences in “physical structure, biological or social function,” the women's status bill, H. R. 2007, incorporates a princple which recognizes the fact that the species “homo sapiens” is divided into two classes; and that these two classes, male and female, are distinguished by certain fundamental differences which it is desirable to recognize in the law. The discriminations and inequities which were once deeply imbedded in common law, and still remain in many instances to burden and impede the social and civil progress of women, cannot be removed by denying the essential differences between the sexes. Indeed, identical treatment before the law for men and women, it seems to us, would automatically exclude the possibility of truly equal treatment by ignoring such essential differences. Legal theorizing can no more make identical treatment coextensive with equal treatment, than Congress can amend the laws of nature.

The language of the women's status bill, H. R. 2007 which calls for practical equality between the sexes while safeguarding differential treatment, where that is demonstrated to be desirable, is designed to avoid what is certainly the most serious defect of the so-called equal rights amendment—the uncertainty of its probable consequences. At the same time, the women's status bill declares explicitly that differential treatment shall not be discriminatory treatment. There were many other erroneous charges made on Wednesday. A leading and articulate opponent of the women's status bill, Miss Alma Lutz, acknowledges in her pamphlet, entitled “Equal Rights Amendment versus Taft-Wadsworth Legal Status bill," published by Massachusetts branch, National Women's Party, that the status bill would free women from “common-law discriminations,” but at the same time, she insists, it would "fasten upon them another set of sex distinctions," the precise nature of which she does not make clear. The point she makes in her pamphlet, however, is not to be mistaken. No sex distinctions are supportable. By “legalizing sex distinctions," she asserts " 'even though reasonably justified by differences in physical structure, biological or social function, it (the women's status bill) would place women in a class apart, outside the pale of human rights."

Other proponents of the amendment take a different view of the desirability of abolishing all sex distinctions, as this committee has had sufficient opportunity to discover, and the conclusion is inescapable that one group or the other will face harsh disappointment if the amendment ever reaches the point of judicial interpretation. There is clearly confusion among them as to the extent to which the wording of the amendment would permit distinctions in legal treatment of men and women, even where the reasonableness of such distinctions was a matter of plain common sense. If the amendment is so broadly framed that even its own supporters differ fundamentally over its purpose and intent, we are to be forgiven for the deep conviction that some alternative must be sought to get us where we want to go; and we believe that the women's status bill provides such an alternative.

The second major provision of the bill is for the creation of a commission of nine members, to be appointed by the President on a representative basis, to study and review the economic, civil, social, and political status of women in the United States and the nature and extent of discriminations based on sex. It is widely recognized that most legal provisions resulting in discriminations against women were enacted many generations ago, in line with social criteria and cultural patterns differing from those existing today. Although great strides have been made in disposing of obsolete laws, their revision has lagged behind social and economic changes. No expert and authoritative study has yet been made of the reasonableness and social utility of the body of law which distinguishes between men and women even though lists of them are maintained and kept up to date by the Women's Bureau and the National Women's Party. The findings of such a commission as is proposed by the women's status bill would furnish such an authoritative analysis and would set up legislative standards for a fundamental review and revision of both State and Federal codes,

Such legislative standards, established on the basis of the findings and recommendations of the proposed commission, would be of practical assistance to legislative and administrative bodies. Governors of nine States have testified to the value of the work of such a commission for the States: The Honorable Thomas J. Herbert of Ohio, the Honorable Luther W. Youngdahl of Minnesota, the Honorable Robert D. Blue of Iowa, the Honorable Charles M. Dale of New Hampshire, the Honorable Lee Knous of Colorado, the Honorable M. È. Thompson of Georgia, the Honorable J. H. Davis of Louisiana, the Honorable John O. Pastore of Rhode Island, and the Honorable Clarence Meadows of West Virginia. Typical of their statements is that of Governor Youngdahl of Minnesota who wrote the committee as follows:

I have examined the proposal for the establishment of a Presidential Commission on the Status of Women (H. R. 2007) and believe that the findings of such a commission would be of practical assistance to the members of our State legislatures and citizen organizations in planning revision of laws on our statute books which discriminate unfairly against women.

Most of the remaining legal discriminations against women are found in the laws of the individual States. The legislative method of attack on the inequities still persisting in these State codes is the only constructive and discriminating approach to the formidable task of effecting changes in the laws of the several States with such needful variations as local conditions make desirable. By securing the voluntary and willing cooperation of the States in this undertaking, the program would ensure the popular understanding and acceptance of such changes essential to their proper enforcement. Such a program of revision as the women's status bill would set in motion is in strong contrast to the negative and essentially destructive approach of the proposed amendment.

The legislative method of attack on remaining inequities would also reach the discriminations which are not presently outlawed under the fifth and fourteenth amendments, and would not be outlawed under the proposed equal rights amendment. The exclusion of women from juries in more than a dozen States, for example, does not involve a right under existing constitutional provisions, nor would it under the proposed amendment. The same is true of equal pay for equal work, and other important issues involving discriminations which can be reached only through specific legislation to remedy a specific inequity. The enactment of the women's status bill, however, would open the way to immediate legislative action with respect to such matters.

The opponents of the women's status bill contend that there is no need for such fact finding because these matters have been under study for 27 years. “Further study," says Miss Lutz, “would only delay actlon on a matter which has been put off too long." We agree with Miss Lutz on the need for action; but effective action must await agreement upon desired objectives, and such agreement has not been visibly furthered by the generation of so-called study. The fact that the women of this country have been divided into hostile camps for a quarter of a century over a fundamental ideological controversy sug. gests that the issue involved is a complex one, and that real clarification is precisely what we need. Such clarification is not likely to come out of such public airing of differences as this, where the argument must be won and a division taken. It will only come through the creation of a mechanism for pooling ideas and information, resolving differences and agreeing upon the meaning and content of abstract principles, for the common good. It is precisely this purpose which the proposed commission would serve.

A further advantage in the provisions of this bill, as a matter of practical reality, is the fact that it would avoid the imputation of Federal interference in an area of legislation which has always been jealously guarded as the special preserve and prerogative of the State governments. The equal-rights amendment, on the other hand, is a directive to the States which permits no discretion, no consideration of possible desirable variations. On these grounds alone, and quite apart from its merits, we strongly doubt whether the proposed amendment, broadly worded as it is, could be ratified by the necessary threefourths of the States at any foreseeable date. Even if it had substantial public support, the State legislatures in many States would tend to resist it as an invasion of their legislative domain. The tragic spectacle of the child-labor amendment should not be forgotten.

When the women's status bill was introduced in Congress last February, a distinguished group of legal scholars and jurists, including Dr. William Draper Lewis, and Prof. Paul Freund, of Harvard, signed a statement in support of this bill, and at the same time reiterated their opposition to the equal-rights amendment. On behalf of my committee, I should like to insert the complete statement in the record of this hearing.

I would also like to insert the statement in opposition to the equalrights amendment, drawn up by Prof. Paul Freund, and signed by more than 40 legal scholars, jurists, and professors of law, including Silas Strawn, William Draper Lewis, Roscoe Pound, and many others. Since this statement effectively expresses the views of the national committee on the status of women regarding the defects of this amendment, I am attaching it to my presentation and will merely summarize its main thesis here. In the opinion of these legal scholars this amendment would set up an abstract rule of thumb for dealing with the complicated problems arising out of the great variety of relationships in which women stand in the community; i. e., as wage earners, as members of families, as citizens, and as individuals, throw every provision of law concerning women into a constitutional issue to be ultimately decided by the Supreme Court of the United States; expose this legislation to an uncertain and even unpredictable fate.

In summary, the committee would like to call attention to the existence of a mass of evidence offered by various individuals and organizations in opposition to the equal-rights amendment in previous congressional hearings which might have been repeated in this hearing. We prefer to refer those interested to the available printed record of former hearings, however, and thus save time and space here. To summarize our position, however, we do wish to quote briefly a few public comments in support of the women's status bill from Miss Mary Anderson, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Honorable Frances Perkins, Margaret Perry Bruton in the May 1947 Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and editorials in the Washington Post, for February 25, 1947, and the New York Herald Tribune, for April 2, 1947.

The women's status bill provides for an orderly review of legislation to re. move discriminations against women. It is realistic in recognizing that certain distinctions in law are valuable to women and to society as a whole, while others should be removed as promptly as possible. The procedure it suggests, i. e., immediate declaration of a Federal policy against discrimination, and the establishment of a commission to investigate the entire situation and make recommendations, would prove far more rapid and effective than the equal rights amendment.-Mary Anderson.

The law will provide for a comprehensive evaluation of the status of women by a commission (which)

would study the economic, civil, social, and political status of women, and make recommendations for such legislation as may seem to them necessary.—Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.

It is not equal rights but the rights to those things which are necessary for the opportunities, the protection, the status which women need in the practical world of today


realists wanted to see unfair discrimination on the basis of sex, unfair discrimination in opportunity pass away, and the impediments to economic, civil, social, and political progress for women removed, they didn't see that it could be done by the so-called qual rights amendment

Now, fortunately, there comes forth a really practical proposal on the staus of women in the United States.-Hon. Frances Perkins.



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



« iepriekšējāTurpināt »