Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, vowed to devote her life to feminist activism when she discovered at age 19 that her husband owed her a paycheck under Louisiana State law.
Gandy spoke at Yale Law School yesterday on the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers and the recent New York Times article about the Ivy League and motherhood. Gandy said to a crowd of about 50 people that she was troubled by the public’s lack of knowledge concerning Miers — while Roberts will likely follow in the footsteps of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, she said, the public does not know what to expect of Miers.
“I was very excited when I heard that she was provoking such consternation among the right wing,” Gandy said. “Unfortunately, we don’t know much about her [and] what we do know is that she is vehemently anti-choice.”
Gandy spoke out more strongly against recently confirmed Justice John Roberts, Jr.
“People look at me funny when I say Roberts is more on the side of Scalia and Thomas than of Rehnquist,” she said. “Roberts is not as bad as Rehnquist — he is worse than Rehnquist.”
Gandy said the issue with Miers is not that she is conservative — conservatism is not synonymous with hostility to women’s rights, she said.
“I know lots of conservatives who believe women are entitled to equal pay,” Gandy said. “There are conservatives and then there are extremists. We have to distinguish between the two.”
When asked why she thought President Bush chose Miers, Gandy responded that Democrats were certain to fight against a more upsetting nominee.
“I think it’s more that he knows that Harriet Miers, who has been quoted several times saying that George Bush is the most brilliant man she’s ever met — and she says it with a straight face — will continue to serve George Bush long after he is in the White House,” she said.
In response to questions regarding the New York Times article claiming that more Ivy League females want to focus on family life, Gandy questioned the statistical support for the article’s conclusions.
“They’re totally anecdotal,” she said. “Doesn’t anybody think that’s weird? They take somebody from Columbia or somewhere and send them an e-mail. And so all the people who wrote back — guess what, a disproportionate number of them were stay at home moms and were not CEO’s.”
Gandy added that wanting to stay home with children is a fine choice for both men and women, but she thinks it is unfair to say that women do not care about higher education.
Kim Ott, a staff member at the Women Faculty Forum, which helped organize Gandy’s visit with in conjunction with the American Constitution Society, said Gandy was initially invited to speak on social security.
“It just came up as a timely opportunity to have her weigh in on the Supreme Court and the New York Times — issues affecting our campus and our world,” Ott said.
Laura Chandhok ’08 said she found Gandy approachable and easy to question.
“It was interesting to hear her speak about her activism in the Louisiana legislature because I’m from New Haven,” Chandhok said. “Also, I hadn’t heard such strong opinions against Roberts. She was very opposed to his nomination and had some serious problems I hadn’t heard before.”