Tuesday, July 12, 2005

O'Connor's legacy weak on labor

Nathan Newman writes:
For individual workers, O'Connor had scarcely more sympathy for their rights. While she defected from her colleagues in preserving Family and Medical Leave rights for state employees -- a function of her well-known sympathy for better-off women who can afford to take unpaid leave -- in Alden v. Maine, O'Connor joined the majority which in the name of "federalism" denied poor state employees any right to sue for protection under the federal minimum wage law.
She also gutted the right to organize in many ways, and

In Eastern Enterprises, she wrote the decision that relieved coal companies of liability for the lifetime health care costs of retired miners which had been promised them during their work years and which Congress had guaranteed in the Coal Act of 1992, which assessed the costs against the remaining coal companies in the industry. Declaring the law a violation of the takings clause, O'Connor argued the property rights of the mine companies were more sacred than the right of the miners to receive the health care promised them during their working lives.
This is the "moderate" seat we're trying to hold onto.