WOMEN IN POLITICS….For anyone who wonders whether gender parity in our political insitutions is really that big a deal, consider a case that was argued before the Supreme Court on Monday. The question at issue was whether a recording of a 911 emergency call could be admitted as evidence in court even if the victim who made the call later refused to testify in person:
“The practical reality is many women are scared to death” to testify against a spouse or partner who abuses them, said Ginsburg, now the only woman on the high court. In other instances, “they are so desperate financially” that they decide against testifying, she said.
She questioned whether the Constitution should be interpreted to bar prosecutors from using their calls to a 911 line. “This is not just a call. It is a cry for help,” Ginsburg said.
But Justice Antonin Scalia countered that the use of such statements in the place of a witness’ testimony in court violated the principle set in the Constitution.
The 6th Amendment says: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” Scalia said the court should enforce that right.
Now, Ginsburg might be right and she might be wrong. But the point is that she was the only one to even raise an argument for allowing the 911 call to be used, and that’s almost certainly because she’s a woman herself and a former director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. Without her, there apparently wouldn’t have been even a single justice willing to give much weight to the real-world reasons that make it difficult to get victims of domestic violence to testify. Ginsburg’s argument might not be enough to change the result of the case, but it’s something that the male justices should at least be forced to consider.