WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke at a press conference this afternoon with Lilly Ledbetter, the plaintiff in a workplace discrimination lawsuit decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 29; Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller; and other House Democrats to discuss legislation that will be introduced soon to remedy the incorrect decision on Ledbetter's case. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"When people are asked about our democratic system of checks and balances, they usually think of a famous tug-of-war between the Executive and Congressional branches, or perhaps a Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of an act by Congress or the Administration.
"But our system of checks and balances is a two-way street. When the United States Supreme Court wrongly decides a case - particularly when Congressional intent is at issue - the Congress can and should act to remedy it.
"Make no mistake: The court's decision in Ledbetter was wrongly decided. And, the new Democratic Majorities in this Congress are determined to remedy it.
"The Court itself has even recognized in prior cases that Congress intended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to have a broad remedial purpose - to make persons whole for injuries suffered on account of unlawful employment discrimination.
"The merits of Lilly Ledbetter's wage discrimination claim seem beyond doubt. A federal jury agreed that she was discriminated against. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agreed with her - although the Administration switched its view once the case got to the Supreme Court.
"Lilly Ledbetter was paid less than all of her male counterparts, even those who had less seniority. And, this clearly was not a case where her performance was suspect. Goodyear gave her a "top performance award" in 1996.
"The fact is, the Court majority took an extremely cramped view of Title VII - and we are going to remedy it.
"Every paycheck that Lilly Ledebetter received after Goodyear's decision to pay her less because of her gender was nothing if not a continuing manifestation of Goodyear's illegal sex discrimination.
"As Justice Ginsberg said in dissent, each subsequent paycheck was "infected" by the original decision to unlawfully discriminate.
"Many years from now, when scholars look back at this decision, I believe they will conclude that Ledbetter was much more like Plessy v. Ferguson, which established the separate-but-equal doctrine, than Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark case that overruled Plessy and helped our nation begin to live up to the principle of equality.
"When Chairman Miller and the members here - who have worked so hard over the years to ensure equal pay for equal work - finish their legislative remedy, I am absolutely committed to moving the bill to the floor without delay."