Amicus

The advancement of a women’s rights agenda depends heavily on court decisions for its success. Since its inception, CWL has devoted significant energy to an active amicus committee in which CWL prepares or joins others in presenting amicus briefs in cases relevant to CWL’s core issues.
  • In determining whether CWL will sign on to or file an amicus brief, we consider the following factors: Is the issue of importance to women? Is it an area of law directly relating to women? Will the resolution of the issue have a significant impact or effect on women even though the issue is not normally considered a “women’s issue?”;
  • Is the issue likely to be or has it already been adequately briefed by the parties in the lawsuit?;
  • Is CWL’s position likely to be of interest to the Court? Will the fact that CWL takes the time to file an amicus brief highlight the importance of the issue in a way that might not otherwise be evident?; and
  • Where does the issue fall among CWL’s overall priorities and amicus brief priorities for the year?

CWL has joined amicus briefs in the following recent cases:

Case  Outcome

Chase v. Nodine’s Smokehouse, Inc.
CWL joined an amicus brief filed by the National Women’s Law Center March 23, 2021, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in this case asserting the rights of survivors of sexual assault, particularly those who are low-wage workers, to fair, impartial treatment both in the workplace and when reporting sexual assault to the police. In this case, a woman who was sexually assaulted by her supervisor at the restaurant where she worked reported the assault to the police, but was then herself charged for allegedly making a false report. The woman sued her assailant, the restaurant, individual police officers, and the local police department asserting that the police response to her report of sexual assault constituted sex discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The federal district court in Connecticut denied the defendants’ summary judgment motion, and defendants appealed, arguing that qualified immunity shields the police from the Equal Protection claims. The amicus brief presents social science research and legal precedents explaining the dynamics of sexual assault and how sexual assault survivors interact with law enforcement; explaining how the police department’s response to the client’s report of sexual assault – including bringing charges against the client for false reporting – reflects gender bias; and explaining how and why gender bias by law enforcement may harm survivors of sexual assault, the vast majority of whom are women, and thus violate the Equal Protection Clause.

 Pending

Cochran v. Gresham, Cochran v. Philbrick, Arkansas v. Gresham
CWL joined an amicus brief filed by the National Women’s Law Center and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on February 24, 2021, in Cochran v. Gresham (and consolidated cases) in the U.S. Supreme Court. These cases involve challenges to HHS’ approval, under the Trump administration, of Medicaid demonstration projects in Arkansas and New Hampshire that impose work requirements as a condition for receiving Medicaid benefits. The circuit and district courts below held that HHS’ approval of the demonstration projects was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act because the agency failed to consider that the projects will result in a loss of health coverage, which is directly at odds with the principal purpose of the Medicaid Act. The amicus brief highlights the devastating impact that the Medicaid work requirements will have on women and people of color, and especially on women of color, exacerbating existing health and economic disparities. The brief also emphasizes that the COVID-19 pandemic simultaneously makes it harder for individuals to satisfy work requirements while also compounding the health and economic consequences that will result from loss of health coverage in this moment. The Biden administration is reversing the work-requirement policy and filed a motion asking the Supreme Court to vacate the circuit court decisions, instruct the court below to remand the matters to HHS, and remove the cases from the argument calendar. The Supreme Court removed the cases from the March 29, 2021, oral argument calendar. Ruling on the request to vacate the lower court rulings is still pending.

 Pending

Tucker v. Faith Bible Chapter International
CWL joined an amicus brief filed January 19, 2021, by the National Women’s Law Center in Tucker v. Faith Bible Chapter International, Case No. 20-1230, a Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals case involving the ministerial exception, which bars the application of anti-discrimination laws to religious institutions’ employment relationships with its “ministers.” In this case, a religious school claims that the ministerial exception permitted it to fire a science teacher for speaking out about racism and racial harassment. The district court denied the school’s summary judgment motion, holding that there were factual disputes as to whether the teacher was a “minister” under the exception, and the school appealed. The amicus brief addresses the specific harms to women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and others at risk for discrimination and harassment in the workplace, as well as for wage-and-hour violations, through an unwarranted expansion of the ministerial exception to avoid workers’ civil rights protections.

 Pending

Hecox v. Little
CWL joined an amicus brief filed December 21, 2020, by the National Women’s Law Center and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Hecox v. Little, Case Nos. 20-35813, 20-35815, a case pending in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The case involves a challenge to an Idaho law that bans transgender and intersex women and girls from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. The plaintiffs obtained a preliminary injunction on their equal protection claim, which the state appealed. The amicus brief focuses on the ways the Idaho law violates Title IX, particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bostock v. Clayton County. The brief argues that excluding all transgender women and girls from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity has detrimental physical and psychological impacts on these student-athletes and others, and the “sex verification” provision could result in any woman or girl who does not conform to stereotypes about femininity being subjected to invasive and humiliating tests. The amicus brief also discusses how policies like the Idaho law create particular harms for Black and brown girls and women, given the history of stereotypes regarding athleticism, biology, and gender that are applied to women and girls of color.

 Pending

Pambakian v. Blatt
On July 2, 2020, CWL joined an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit in support of a plaintiff who alleges she was sexually harassed and assaulted at a company holiday party. After she reported the assault, she was asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement and when she declined to do so, the company adopted a mandatory arbitration policy two years after the assault took place. The amicus brief explains how mandatory arbitration can be harmful to sexual harassment claims and how it is especially unfair in this case where the agreement was signed after the sexual assault took place.

 Pending

Peltier v. Charter Day School
On June 22, 2020, CWL joined an amicus brief in the Fourth Circuit in support of the plaintiffs in. The plaintiffs are challenging whether the defendant’s school dress code policy, which requires all girls to wear skirts, “skorts,” or “jumpers” to school, violates the Equal Protection Clause and Title IX. The amicus brief explains that the dress code policy is based on false notions that girls should be passive and must conform to specific gender stereotypes. It also explains how the policy is particularly harmful for transgender students and students who are gender non-binary or gender non-conforming. 

 Pending

Bostock v. Clayton County
On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court agreed with CWL’s position set forth in an amicus brief that discrimination against an employee because of sexual orientation or gender identity constitutes prohibited employment discrimination “because of . . . sex” within the meaning of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Our amicus brief explained that there is no meaningful distinction between a claim of sex stereotyping based on a person’s assigned-at-birth sex and a claim of gender stereotyping based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

 Favorable

California v. Texas
On May 11, 2020, CWL joined an amicus brief in a case currently pending in the United States Supreme Court. In this case, a group of states led by Texas is attempting to dismantle the entirety of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by arguing that the ACA’s individual mandate was rendered unconstitutional when Congress reduced the tax for not having health insurance to zero as part of tax reform in December 2017. A coalition of states led by California and the U.S. House of Representatives have stepped in to defend the ACA, as the Trump administration has refused to do so. The amicus brief explains that striking down the ACA will have a devastating impact on women and their families, and in particular women and families of color. 

 Pending 

Affordable Care Act Contraceptive Mandate Cases
Over the last several years, CWL has signed on to a number of amicus briefs challenging the Trump administration's new rules that broadly exempt employer's from complying with the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive coverage mandate.  While CWL achieved a number of victories in the lower courts, in Little Sisters of the Poor, the United States Supreme Court overruled a nationwide injunction which was preventing the rules from taking effect. 

 Unfavorable

Francis v. Kings Park Manor
On May 5, 2020, CWL joined an amicus brief in the Second Circuit supporting the plaintiff in Francis v. Kings Park Manor. The plaintiff is an African-American tenant who faced severe racial harassment from a fellow tenant. The complaint alleges that, pursuant to the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act, the plaintiff’s landlord was obliged to take reasonable steps within its control to remedy the hostile housing environment. The Second Circuit initially agreed with the plaintiff’s view, but now the court has voted to rehear the case en banc. The amicus brief addresses the impact a decision adverse to the plaintiff will have on women.

 Pending

Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania
On April 8, 2020, CWL joined an amicus brief in Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania, a case challenging the Trump Administration’s new rules that broadly exempt certain employers from complying with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage mandate. The United States Supreme Court granted review of the Third Circuit’s order affirming a nationwide injunction that enjoins enforcement of the new rules. The amicus brief explains how the Trump Administration’s new rules will have a significant detrimental impact on women.

Unfavorable 

Doe v. University of Kentucky
CWL joined an amicus brief supporting the plaintiff in her appeal of a district court decision holding that she lacked standing to bring a Title IX claim. The plaintiff alleged that the University of Kentucky acted with deliberate indifference after she reported that she was raped by a student in the university’s dormitory. Even though the plaintiff was a community college student taking part in a program at the university, resided at the university, and had access to the university’s services and facilities, the district court held that she lacked standing because she was not a student at the university. On August 19, 2020, the Sixth Circuit agreed that the plaintiff has standing to pursue her claim, reversing the district court's decision.

Favorable 

DeOtte v. Nevada
CWL joined an amicus brief in a Fifth Circuit case dealing with the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Drawing on social science research and reports, the brief argues that the coverage exception adopted by the district court will harm women across the country. The decision below should be reversed because seamless, no-cost contraception is essential to women's equality and advancement.

 Pending

June Medical v. Gee
This amicus brief in a high-profile Supreme Court abortion rights case focuses on the actual burdens that the Louisiana statute at issue imposes on women’s ability to make reproductive decisions, and the resulting negative impacts that deny women’s equal participation in social and economic life. These harms—which have particularly detrimental effects on low-income women, women living in poverty, women of color, women who already have children, women subjected to intimate partner violence, and transgender and non-binary individuals--confirm that the Louisiana statute unduly burdens individuals’ reproductive autonomy and inhibits their equal participation in society, thereby depriving them of the right to liberty promised by the Constitution.

Favorable

Tudor v. Southeastern Oklahoma State University
In this case, a unanimous jury found in favor of a professor who was denied tenure after undergoing a male to female gender transition, but the district court denied her claim for reinstatement. CWL joined a brief underscoring the importance of reinstatement in employment discrimination cases and arguing that the factors the court considered in denying reinstatement were improper.

 Pending

Jock v. Sterling Jewelers
This case is a class action challenge to pervasive sex discrimination in pay and promotion opportunities under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. 

 Favorable

Parker v. Reema Consulting Services, Inc.
Our amicus brief argued that the lower court inappropriately dismissed the sex discrimination claim. The Fourth Circuit reversed the lower court ruling in its decision by an unanimous three-judge panel, holding that rumors that a female employee slept with her male boss to obtain promotions can give rise to her employer’s liability under Title VII for sex discrimination. The Fourth Circuit revived the claims of sex discrimination in this case agreeing that “the traditional negative stereotypes regarding the relationship between the advancement of women in the workplace and their sexual behavior” are still at play and allowing harassment based on such stereotypes can violate federal law.

 Favorable

Karnoski, et al v. Trump 
In opposition to dissolving the preliminary injunction halting the government's ban on transgender men and women serving in the military. 

 Favorable

Adams v. St. John’s County School Board 
CWL signed on to an amici brief in a case involving transgendered students’ rights to use the restroom of their choice. The brief argued that the presence of transgender students in a restroom does not create a hostile environment under Title IX or implicate a privacy concern under the U.S. Constitution; that sex-based protections in federal civil rights laws and the Constitution’s equal protection provision include protections for transgender students; and that transgender students face documented harms when they are not permitted to use facilities that align with their gender identities.

 Favorable

Parents for Privacy v. Dallas School Dist. No. 2 
CWL signed on to an amici brief in a case involving transgendered students’ rights to use the restroom of their choice. The brief argued that the presence of transgender students in a restroom does not create a hostile environment under Title IX or implicate a privacy concern under the U.S. Constitution; that sex-based protections in federal civil rights laws and the Constitution’s equal protection provision include protections for transgender students; and that transgender students face documented harms when they are not permitted to use facilities that align with their gender identities. 

 Favorable
 
If you would like CWL to consider drafting or signing onto an amicus brief, please contact us at [email protected].