‘Citizenship or Bondage’ Presentations to Dramatize Key Issues Regarding Woman and the Law

GAINESVILLE — In conjunction with the October celebration of the 25th anniversary of the University of Florida’s Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research, students and faculty of the University’s Levin College of Law will reenact a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case denying women’s access to equal employment opportunities.

The two-part presentation, “Citizenship or Bondage: Women’s Work, Law and the Constitution,” is scheduled for 7:00-9:00 p.m., Oct. 24, in the University Auditorium on campus. It is free and open to the public.

“This will be a dramatic, realistic look at the complexity of legal issues surrounding gender and women’s rights, and will present different feminist perspectives on law and social norms,” said law school Associate Professor Danaya Wright, also an affiliate faculty member of the UF’s Center for Women’s Studies. “This is going to be better than Court TV.”

Part one will be a reenactment of an 1873 case involving an Illinois woman, Myra Bradwell, who wanted to practice law. Bradwell, after passing an examination and obtaining required character references, had her application rejected by the Illinois Supreme Court because “[t]his step, if taken by us, would mean that. . . every civil office in this State may be filled by women; that it is in harmony with the spirit of our constitution and laws that women should be made governors, judges and sheriffs. This we are not yet prepared to hold.”

The U.S. Supreme Court on appeal rejected Bradwell’s claim that her constitutional rights had been violated, explaining in its ruling that allowing her to practice law would interfere with her principal mission of fulfilling “the noble duties of wife and mother.”

In the Bradwell reenactment, two students from the law school’s Law Association for Women (LAW) will argue the case in period costumes before a seven-member panel of judges. Wright is lining up seven female judges in place of the historical all-male panel that ruled on Bradwell v. Illinois. Scheduled to take part thus far are district court of appeals judges Martha Lott and Jacqueline Griffith and circuit court judge R. Morgan Hamilton from Chicago.

Part two of the evening’s presentations will be a law school Moot Court Team oral argument about police departments’ contemporary practice of posting on the Internet names and pictures of prostitutes and their customers.

“This will bring up such issues as why resources that could better be used to target domestic abuse, murder or similar major crimes are being used to target a crime almost entirely committed by women,” Wright notes.

Published: October 7th, 2002

Category: News

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