Friday, November 16, 2007
And the judge wore pink . . .
One of my favorite law school memories was attending a Global Constitutionalism seminar with judges from around the world. Into a room of stuffed shirts walked Judge Noelle Lenoir (pictured at left) of the French Conseil Constitutionnel -- wearing a hot pink mini-skirt. It was one of the few moments in my three years at Yale that made me think that one could be brilliant, successful, and stylish -- and most definitely female. So imagine my delight at being invited to speak at the National Association of Women Judges' annual conference, which was held last week right here in Philadelphia, to a whole room full of accomplished, intelligent, engaged feminist judges. I was not disappointed; the audience was probing, lively, and witty. While I did not get a definitive answer to my question of why my co-authors and I found that female immigration judges granted asylum at a rate 44% higher than that of male immigration judges (see this post for further description of our study, forthcoming in the Stanford Law Review this month), I received plenty of thoughtful feedback on my talk. I was also impressed with the response to Immigration Judge Rosalind Malloy's excellent talk on the current state of female genital mutilation claims in U.S. asylum law (discussed here). The judges were roundly concerned with the narrowing of relief for women seeking protection against FGM, and asked what the NAWJ as a group could do to stem this disturbing tide. Not only feminists, but activists -- this was really starting to be fun. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the international panels, which would have been of interest to this readership, but I did hear a plug for the next International Association of Women Judges' conference in Panama next March. The IAWJ is a group of over 4,000 judges from 87 nations working to "advance human rights, eliminate discrimination on the basis of gender and make courts accessible to all," including through the application of international human rights law in domestic courts. So what are you waiting for, Grrls? Pull those hot pink minis out of your closet, pack them up, and head on down to Panama to make Judge Lenoir proud.