The Rostow Report by Ann Rostow

Tara Reade, Senate ID card, 1993.

“ … Can I confess, as a loyal me-too feminist, that I can’t stand Tara Reade, the Russia-phile Biden accuser who has switched up the details of her story more often than a fifteen-year-old caught sneaking in the house at three am.”


PUG POSITIVE!

Hello FIGHT readers. Would you like to know what I’ve accomplished in the last month of home quarantine? The answer is…absolutely nothing! My wife and I are perfectly matched. She has been busy performing useful tasks around the house and yard, including growing a patch of green beans and tomatoes. She asks nothing of me and produces interesting meals and snacks at appropriate intervals while I lounge and contemplate life’s conundrums. 

Oh! She just told me that a pug in South Carolina tested positive for the virus! I gather he’s feeling better, but it’s still a disturbing development. I’m a pug aficionado. Lately, in the course of binging World War II documentaries, we have hate-watched some shows about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, a couple of self indulgent Nazi sympathizers who also loved pugs. It’s jarring to share my affection for these lovable dogs with such repugnant individuals, much as it was always a shock to see gay-bashing Fred Phelps sporting a University of Kansas sweatshirt while hawking his “God Hates Fags” message on the streets of Topeka. We hated that man, but ours is also a Jayhawk household. Rock Chalk!

Indeed, our Kansas Jayhawk flag still flies outside the house where it was raised in anticipation of winning the sadly cancelled NCAA basketball championship. Lately I’ve thought we should switch it out. The star and stripes would be patriotic, but the pandemic is global and plus, we don’t want to be confused with the “give me liberty or give me death” types now emerging from the rotted parts of the national woodwork. We could raise the rainbow colors, but it’s not June. We have a “Party Time!” flag which might work given my fondness for day drinking. Other than that, we have the French flag, the flag of Scotland and the Texas longhorn banner, none of which seems relevant. Let’s just call it what it is: another existential dilemma that calls for lengthy consideration and another cocktail. (The “Party Time” flag it is, then!)


DEAD COMMUNITY WALKING?

 We are still waiting for the twin Title VII workplace discrimination decisions from the Supreme Court. Given the schedule, we know for sure that the verdict on our near-term future as full-fledged Americans will be released in the next two months. As you know, the High Court recesses for the summer at the end of June, and announces all outstanding opinions before that time. 

Passed as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII bans discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin and religion. Over the last half century and change, the scope of this iconic federal law has expanded with the times through endless evolution in the courts. 

As far as sex bias in concerned for example, sexual harassment on the job is outlawed because the High Court ruled it was a form of sex discrimination under Title VII even though the law makes no direct reference to such wrongdoings. Similarly, the idea of an impermissibly hostile work environment sprung from    

Supreme Court rulings, as did the ban on gender stereotyping in employment decisions. It’s against the law, the High Court has said, to treat men and women differently based on stereotypical ideas of masculinity and femininity. 

Recently, and by that I mean over the last 20 years, and particularly over the last 10, federal courts and several U.S. circuit courts of appeal have ruled that gay bias and trans bias are also forbidden in the workplace under the developing infrastructure of Title VII jurisprudence. But the Supreme Court has never taken a gay or trans case that would definitively decide the matter. This year it took one of each. And a ruling against us would vitiate all those hard-fought lower court victories and set us back a generation. 

In addition, since courts use Title VII law to evaluate other sex-based civil rights issues in education (Title IX) and elsewhere in both statutes and policies, a defeat in these cases would roll back gains in every area of our legal fight for equality. It would be a disaster, and unfortunately, we have no reason to expect this new Court will rule in our favor. There’s a chance, of course. But when our salvation lies with John Roberts or Brett Kavanaugh the outlook is dark indeed.

This is why you should join me and check in with scotusblog.com every Monday morning (and sometimes Thursdays) to join the live feed of opinions. We can wait together.


JOE, WE KNEW YE

My top story this month was suppose to be about Trump’s continuing roll back of administrative policies designed to protect GLBTs from discrimination in health care and other areas, policies that were installed during the Obama years and deliberately revoked in a slow roll since 2017. But here I am, late in this column, and I have yet to broach the subject because it’s not news. It’s more of the same. And there’s only one solution to the continuing erosion of the piecemeal national umbrellas on which we currently rely: we need to defeat Trump and we need to elect a Democratic Senate so that protections can be enacted by Congress rather than tossed around through executive orders that can be reversed by a conservative electorate. Or we can win those Supreme Court cases, but we’re not banking on that.

With that in mind, can I confess, as a loyal me-too feminist, that I can’t stand Tara Reade, the Russia-phile Biden accuser who has switched up the details of her story more often than a fifteen-year-old caught sneaking in the house at three am. 

I know, I know! We have to respect the victim. And perhaps Uncle Joe petted her hair or made suggestive comments nearly 30 years ago. I know he dismissed Anita Hill, which will always stain his record, but at this point I don’t care. He’s running against a predator, so the idea that Biden would have to account for one allegation in the 1990s, while Trump ignores continual accusations of the same ilk is beyond annoying. Further, I tend to give men a pass for 20th Century misdeeds within reason, and I don’t believe Biden’s actions suddenly went from inappropriate fussing to rape over the course of this year. So, no. Take her away, please, and bring on November. n


arostow@aol.com