This was a lengthy reading that presented lots of ideas, history, and concepts for us to grapple with when thinking about the evolution of gender and citizenship. What is your one big takeaway from the reading? What idea sits with you the most?
Siegel makes the case that the sex discrimination movement “hijacked” the 14th Amendment civil rights argument. Some civil rights activists today claim that the same-sex marriage movement employed the same strategy. This lends to a concept called legal fiction, wherein we find rights in extant law that aren’t explicitly stated but seem to be implied, and thus created in our interpretation. For example, the 14th Amendment says if you are born here you are a citizen of the US and cannot be deprived of equality without due process, and the 15th Amendment says citizens can vote. So when the 19th Amendment says women can vote, it implies they are fully citizens, and thus equal under the 14th Amendment. However, there is nothing anywhere in our Constitution that says women are equals. It is legal fiction; we created that constitutional assertion out of existing text. As a result, some believe we need a new constitutional amendment that guarantees civil rights protections to all citizens regardless of sex – an Equal Rights Amendment. After reading Siegel, do you think we need an Equal Rights Amendment, or are the existing rights derived from legal fiction sufficient? Explain your view.
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