POSTPONED: Why the Nineteenth Amendment Matters Today: A Citizen’s Guide for the Centennial

Neil S. Siegel, Duke Law School

Mon, 12/02/2019 - 4:30pm
300 Wallace Hall
Event Category: 

POSTPONED: To be rescheduled

LAPA’s seminar format assumes that seminar participants have familiarized themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator opens the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. The seminar will end with a brief reception, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet.

From Professor Siegel:  "The story of the Nineteenth Amendment includes a half-century of social movement contestation over whether permitting women to vote would destroy or democratize the American family and the American constitutional structure. This Essay revisits that story—an unfinished narrative of both disappointment and hope—in the service of identifying reasons why it relates to the lives of contemporary Americans. The overarching objective of the Essay is to suggest that the full story of the Nineteenth Amendment has always involved much more than a narrow debate over a determinate decision rule regarding women’s access to the franchise. To accomplish that objective, the Essay makes four points in four parts. It first considers which women were enfranchised when and why it matters, emphasizing the importance of an intersectional sensibility in examining that question. The Essay then considers some of the groups (men) and structures (federalism) that both impeded and facilitated woman suffrage. Next, the Essay explains the link between restrictions on woman suffrage and the social subordination of women to men, showing how the anti-subordination rationale of the Nineteenth Amendment bears on both its own interpretation and the interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause by the courts. Finally, the Essay turns to the contemporary implications of the story of the Nineteenth Amendment for American constitutional politics, including debates over the Equal Rights Amendment, unequal pay for equal work, paid family and self-care leave, and restrictions on access to contraception and abortion."

Neil S. Siegel
David W. Ichel Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science
Duke Law School

Neil S. Siegel is the David W. Ichel Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science at Duke Law School, where he also co-directs the Program in Public Law and directs the DC Summer Institute on Law and Policy. Professor Siegel is a constitutional law generalist whose scholarship addresses a variety of areas of constitutional law, theory, and politics. In doing so, he considers ways in which a methodologically pluralist approach can accommodate changes in society and the needs of American governance while remaining disciplined and bound by the rule of law. His articles on collective action federalism offer constitutional justification for robust, but not limitless, federal power. His contributions in the area of separation of powers document and conditionally justify the role of historical governmental practices and norms in constraining political partisanship and partially constituting congressional, executive, and judicial power. His writings on the politics of constitutional law and judicial statesmanship seek to understand how participants in the practice of constitutional law can vindicate the preconditions for the legitimacy of constitutional law. His constitutional theory scholarship analyzes, among other issues, how perceptions of the clarity or ambiguity of the constitutional text are affected in part by purposive, structural, historical, doctrinal, and consequentialist considerations. His work on sex equality and reproductive rights examines how equality values are protected under both equal protection and substantive due process, and extends the skepticism of constitutional sex equality doctrine toward sex classifications to pregnancy discrimination and restrictions on access to contraception and abortion.