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Pushing at the Edges: An oral history of women who began practicing law in the early 1970s

Faye Riva Cohen, Esquire has been featured in an article entitled Pushing at the Edges, by Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and originally published in Superlawyers Magazine on May 24, 2017, which can be found here.  The article features opinions, impressions, anecdotes, and stories of female attorneys who have been practicing for over 40 years.  It is posted below.

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By the time they went to law school at Harvard and Penn and BU in the 1970s, women found female colleagues, and when they interviewed with firms, they found one or two women forebears. “I felt I was accepted as a lawyer,” recalls Faye Cohen, a 1972 law school graduate now practicing in Philadelphia.

But Cohen and her peers still had battles to fight. One opposing counsel in a long-ago arbitration hearing told Martha Hartle Munsch, now an equity partner at Reed Smith in Pittsburgh, “Shut up, sweetie”—and the male arbitrator let it slide. Some women endured male colleagues making jokes about their engagement rings and bras; male professors going overboard with rape examples; male judges sneering at briefcases and pantsuits. “I can still hear [the ‘shut up’ comment] ringing,” Munsch recalls.

Here are some of their stories.

Women entering the law faced discrimination in the ’70s, but many of their mothers and aunts couldn’t even go to law school.

Regina O’Brien Thomas, Ballard Spahr, Boston University School of Law 1973: My mom was an “at-home” legal secretary to an uncle who was a small-town lawyer. She closed her bedroom door and typed “stips,” which many years later I understood to be stipulations. Even when you read stories about the pioneers Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor, my mother was before their time. In 1941, maybe you could find one [female attorney] somewhere, but an ordinary woman in an ordinary town like my mom certainly could not aspire to be a lawyer. My mom couldn’t; I could.

Susan K. Hoffman, Littler Mendelson, University of Pennsylvania Law School 1974: My father was a truck driver, my mother was a secretary, and I thought I wanted to be a physicist or a mathematician. But I ended up majoring in economics and, probably because I grew up reading my father’s Teamster magazines, I became very interested in working on labor relations. I spent my summers working for an actuarial firm, because I babysat the actuary’s kids when I was in high school. I knew I didn’t want to be an actuary, but I liked the business environment and I figured I’d get a job in labor relations management. But in 1969 and ’70, I couldn’t get a job interview because I was a girl.

In 1970, women still made up only 4 percent of the student body in U.S. law school. It was still a man’s world.

Alice Gosfield, Alice G. Gosfield and Associates, NYU School of Law 1973: The only role model I had at that time as a female lawyer was Bella Abzug, who I did not consider to be a model I wanted to follow. I thought, “Well, it’s only three years, I’ll go.”

Martha Hartle Munsch, Reed Smith, Yale Law School 1973: I was the sports editor of my undergraduate student newspaper and I wanted to be a sports journalist. I have no lawyers in my family. I never really aspired to go to law school. But my best friend convinced me to take the law boards, and I did really well. This was before women really had any visibility in sports journalism. I learned that Howard Cosell was a lawyer. I tell people, if ESPN had existed back in the early 1970s, I would never have become a practicing lawyer.

Marilyn Kutler, Schnader Harrison, University of Pennsylvania Law School 1974: I approached a man [who] was a lawyer by training and he had graduated from Penn Law in 1930. We had a very nice business relationship and I said, “Gee, I’m hoping I can get a reference for Penn Law School,” and he said, “Oh, really, why are you going?” I said, “Because I think I would be a good lawyer.” He said, without missing a beat, “But I think you might displace a man.” And I remember thinking, “Really?”

Sherrie Savett, Berger & Montague, University of Pennsylvania Law School 1973: There were 30 women in our law school class out of 200. It had been 5 percent or less in all the previous classes. Our class was like a quantum leap.

Thomas: My 1970 Boston University class was the first class with a sizable percentage of women. They had no large enough women’s room at the law school and had to turn the Law Review office into a women’s room. But it was always getting better.

Hoffman: There was one much-loved professor who was absolutely wonderful, and he taught evidence, and all of his hypotheticals were rape hypotheticals. At one point, a few of the women got together and approached him and said, “It’s very hard for us to sit there, day after day, listening to stories of rape.” And he said, “Oh my God, that never occurred to me, I started doing that to keep men awake.”

Thomas: One of the biggest things I had to learn was to speak up for myself. In law school, I, and certainly every other woman, didn’t speak out most of the time—and guess who filled the vacuum? Men! They all spoke up. Eventually, I learned to speak up and not be shy about asking what pay my work deserves. I guess that’s the lesson women need to do, because some of us are naturally too polite.

Many were lucky enough to join supportive firms with progressive male mentors; others, not so much.

Deena Jo Schneider, Schnader Harrison, Harvard Law School 1974: [My husband’s] uncle was from New York, and I remember his law firm. One of the senior partners said to me I had no business going to law school because I was taking the place of somebody who needed the job and I would never be a practicing lawyer and I would leave and get a station wagon to drive my kids around. I looked at him and said, “Well, I don’t really like station wagons. But I think I will be a lawyer and I hope I have a family, too.” I didn’t go to work there.

Thomas: I applied for a summer clerkship in 1971. My husband and I wanted to try Philadelphia, just because it was halfway between our parents. There was only one firm at Philadelphia that came to BU, so I interviewed [with] them. That interviewer spent my entire interview asking questions about my husband. That law firm had no women. They actually offered me a job, so I declined and wrote letters to two other law firms that had at least one woman, and I went to Ballard. I’ve been there ever since.

Faye Cohen, Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, University of Denver College of Law 1972: I was able to find a job—they treated me very nicely. It was an all-male firm and it was in Wilkes-Barre. I was the only woman lawyer in Wilkes-Barre at the time. I remember attending a Bar Association outing. There was a golf tournament, and they gave me a prize for being the only woman.

Schneider: The interview started and [the interviewer] asked me to stand up and turn around. I was so taken aback. He repeated the request and I stood up and I didn’t turn around and I said, “Why are you asking me this?” And he backed off. I remember telling a couple of my friends afterward, and they were up in arms. They were like, “You have to report this guy and get the firm banned.” I was reluctant to do that because it was one person from this firm—he was not smart; I certainly didn’t like it, but I did not think the proper thing to do was make the firm pay for it by being banned from campus. I always thought that what you should do is say, “That’s really not an appropriate thing to say, I’m just as capable as anybody else, give me a chance and I’ll show it to you,” and disprove things by your actions, as opposed to getting people in trouble for just saying things that weren’t very thoughtful.

Kutler: I remember interviewing at one firm that said they already had a woman.

The remarks, the remarks, the remarks. How is a professional lawyer supposed to respond to something like, “Shut up, sweetie”?

Cohen: There was one elderly judge. Every time I walked into the courtroom—it was a smaller court, there might be 50 people—if I had to get up to go to the restroom, he’d say, “Why are you carrying this briefcase?”

Thomas: I had a judge who wouldn’t let me wear my pantsuit, which I modeled after Mary Tyler Moore and purchased with my first paycheck. I had an opponent who successfully blocked a lawsuit extension when I was pregnant.

Kutler: When I was probably eight months pregnant, and we were going to a meeting with a big bank, [a colleague] said to me, “I’m going to need to introduce you.” I said, “I know all these people.” He said, “No, just wait.” He says, “So, you all know Marilyn, I’m coming as her obstetrician.” That was a pretty weird situation. Could you get all upset? Definitely. When I thought people were really over the line, and sometimes people were, with really inappropriate statements, I said something and it usually stopped.

Savett: The anti-women stuff, the really insulting stuff, for the most part stopped in the 10 to 15 years after I got out of law school. After that there was less and less of it. But there was always some really uncouth lawyer who would make a comment. As time went along, the comments didn’t even sting you. Sentiments had shifted, and comments like that just reflect poorly on the men who made them.

Munsch: Not only the law firms were male-dominated; the executives for the clients with whom I’d be working were men. It was really a fabulous icebreaker to be sitting with clients at dinner in any part of the country and I could talk sports to them.

Hoffman: Only once did I say something nasty to a client. I was called into a meeting and this guy had a serious situation that I was an expert in, and I tried to give him advice and he was saying something like, “Little lady, why should I listen to you?” And I said, “Well, buddy, it’s your money, so you can either listen to me or lose it.”

Gosfield: I remember a client I represented for 25 years, and he called me and said, “I didn’t like you when I first met you. I don’t like pushy women.” I said, “OK.” He said, “But now we’re fine.” I said, “Fine.”

Munsch: When I had my daughter in 1986, I tried a jury case when I was seven months pregnant. I actually thought it was a great advantage because I’ll tell you, the jury is so sympathetic to you when you’re pregnant. They hated that the case ended so quickly. They said, “We wanted the case to go on because we were so interested in your maternity outfits.”

In the ’70s, family-leave policies were more or less nonexistent, so attorneys who wanted to have children had to invent the concept at their own firms and figure out how to implement it.

Thomas: I was the first woman at Ballard to return after having a child. I didn’t know how to handle it, I didn’t know what to ask for, Ballard didn’t know what to do. They didn’t have any policies. There was also the silly concept that women could be superwomen—there was even a cover in Time or something. So I just soldiered on. But soon enough another woman partner and I proposed written maternity policies, and for decades Ballard has been very generous in offering maternity policies and flex time. We wouldn’t get the many women we have if we didn’t do that.

Schneider: I came back [from having a baby] on an hourly basis. I went on trial on a case and my hours went through the roof. The managing partner came to me and said, “Deena, this is ridiculous, you’re making my life very hard, I have to figure out every two weeks what to pay you and you’re making more money than you would be if you weren’t going part-time, and let’s just put you back on salary.” I said, “Well, I need some flexibility.” And he said, “We’ll have flexibility, just figure it out.” I thought there was resentment from people because I dared to have a kid and cut this “special” deal.

Savett: There were no family-leave policies whatsoever. I gave birth on a weekend and I worked up until the Friday, and I was back in less than two months. In retrospect, I really don’t think I took enough time. I was concerned about leaving my job for too long, and, at the same time, I felt guilty and torn about leaving my new baby. Now, most firms give at least three to four months with pay when women have babies; that’s so much kinder and better. When they come back, they’re ready to come back and be productive again, and their status within the law firm has not been diminished at all.

Hoffman: When I was up for a partnership at Goodwin Procter, there was one male partner who was reported to have said at a partners’ meeting, “We’re hiring too many female associates, because everyone knows women can’t get clients.” So I get a call from a woman I met through the American Bar Association who was in-house at Conoco. She said, “Do you have a firm resume?” I called [the male partner] and I explained what I was looking for, and there was this moment of silence on the phone. And he said, “Wow, that’s terrific, how did you get that?” I was about to respond routinely when a little imp in the back of my mind took over and I said, “Well, you might say it’s the old girls’ network.”

The battles against discrimination and double standards are far from over. But many attorneys feel that continued progress is inevitable.

Hoffman: We learned from the last election there are subconscious barriers. I have no doubt that the hostility toward Hillary Clinton in both male and female voters was based in part on her gender, because she didn’t act the way a nice lady was supposed to act. And that’s going to require a societal change, not a change in the legal profession.

Cohen: Oh, I definitely feel there’s progress being made. The first large firm I practiced with, there were very few women, and they never mentioned that they had children. Now, many of my cases are all women: The judges are women, there are women on the other side.

Gosfield: I’m a colleague and peer of a young woman who is the co-chair of the health law department at a large national firm. About three years ago, she and two other women were sitting in a health lawyers’ presentation, and some older guy who was speaking said, “Of course, it’s better if you hire women, because they make less money.” The three of them said they were going to form a women’s health council. I said, “Look, we did this in the early ’70s. Isn’t it over? Why is this necessary again?”

Thomas: I’m optimistic. I really am. The young women coming along are just amazing. And it’s just a matter of time before it’ll be 50/50.

Schneider: There’s no question that, for women, and it’s true today, there’s a narrower range of acceptable behavior. If a woman dresses well, she’s too fashionable; if a man dresses well, he looks good. If a woman doesn’t dress well, she’s dowdy; if a man doesn’t dress well, he doesn’t care. If a woman laughs too much, she’s frivolous; if a man laughs, he’s got a good sense of humor. I pushed at those edges because I was forceful; I did like nice clothes; I’m not quiet. You can’t be quiet and succeed in the times I lived.

Catholic School Principal’s Title VII Suit Dismissed Under “Ministerial Exception”

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Fratello v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, (SD NY, March 29, 2016), a New York federal district court held that the “ministerial exception” to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act precludes the former lay principal of a Catholic elementary school from suing for employment discrimination.  Plaintiff alleged that her employment was terminated as a result of gender discrimination and retaliation. In relying on the ministerial exception doctrine as set out in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 Hosanna-Tabor decision, the district court said in part:

There is no dispute that Plaintiff is not a member of the clergy and that she would not be considered a minister for purposes of Church governance. But the issue here is one of U.S., not canon, law, and “minister” for purposes of the ministerial exception has a far broader meaning than it does for internal Church purposes.

You can learn more about this issue here.

The United Shapes of Arithmetic: An Adjustment

Nathan Rudolph, my friend and fellow parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, has started a comic strip which I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated.  With his permission, I will repost them here after he posts them.  I think my readers will appreciate them as much as I do as they are rather insightful with a snarky edge.  Enjoy!

Here are the links to the previously posted strips:

Here is the latest strip:

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Yessource: live in Tulsa, 9/26/80

Here are my latest uploads to YesSource, my Yes rarities youtube page (about which you can read here).  This post is another addition to my series of Yes music posts and a collection of all my Yes-related posts is here.  Yes, of course, is a, if not the, premier progressive rock band, and I am an enormous fan of it.

You can see all of my Yessource uploads here.

My latest YesSource uploads can be found here:

 

Yesstats Update: Post 8/14/17 Show

This post is the part of my Yes concert series of posts.  I started this series here and you can read the others here.

I saw the progressive rock band Yes play at the Hershey Theater in Hershey, PA on August 14, 2017 during the their Yestival Tour.  I will be posting a review soon.

As I tend to be a pedantic, borderline OCD, person, I like to statistically keep track of various aspects of the Yes shows I have seen over years.  I posted various catalogs of things regarding these shows to this blog, and after each subsequent concert I update all those posts.

The following posts have all been updated in light of the above-mentioned August 14, 2017 show:

If you keep track of these sorts of things, please share your stats in the comments section!

Enjoy!

Yessource: Live in Rochester, 9/16/80

Here are my latest uploads to YesSource, my Yes rarities youtube page (about which you can read here).  This post is another addition to my series of Yes music posts.  I started this series here and a collection of all my Yes-related posts is here.  Yes, of course, is a, if not the, premier progressive rock band, and I am an enormous fan of it.

You can see all of my Yessource uploads here.

My latest YesSource uploads can be found here:

Politics Disguised as Science: When to Doubt a Scientific ‘Consensus’

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article that warrants posting here.  I have seen a recent proliferation of articles in respected publications pointing out, bemoaning, and/or highlighting increasing problems with the trustworthiness of the alleged findings of the contemporary scientific community.  I find these articles to be particularly interesting given how our society looks to science as a (the?) source of ultimate truths (often as a mutually exclusive alternative to spirituality).  This sort of scientism may be misplaced, and these articles delve into the pitfalls that come with such an approach.

Here are the links the other articles I posted on this subject:

Be edified.

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Anyone who has studied the history of science knows that scientists are not immune to the non-rational dynamics of the herd.

This week’s March for Science is odd. Marches are usually held to defend something that’s in peril. Does anyone really think big science is in danger? The mere fact that the March was scheduled for Earth Day betrays what the event is really about: politics. The organizers admitted as much early on, though they’re now busy trying to cover the event in sciencey camouflage.

If past is prologue, expect to hear a lot about the supposed “consensus” on catastrophic climate change this week. The purpose of this claim is to shut up skeptical non-scientists.

How should non-scientists respond when told about this consensus? We can’t all study climate science. But since politics often masquerades as science, we need a way to tell one from the other.

“Consensus,” according to Merriam-Webster, means both “general agreement” and “group solidarity in sentiment and belief.” That sums up the problem. Is this consensus based on solid evidence and sound logic, or social pressure and groupthink?

When can you doubt a consensus? Your best bet is to look at the process that produced, defends and transmits the supposed consensus.

Anyone who has studied the history of science knows that scientists are prone to herd instincts. Many false ideas once enjoyed consensus. Indeed, the “power of the paradigm” often blinds scientists to alternatives to their view. Question the paradigm, and some respond with anger.

We shouldn’t, of course, forget the other side of the coin. There are cranks and conspiracy theorists. No matter how well founded a scientific consensus, there’s someone who thinks it’s all hokum. Sometimes these folks turn out to be right. But often, they’re just cranks whose counsel is best ignored.

So how do we distinguish, as Andrew Coyne puts it, “between genuine authority and mere received wisdom? And how do we tell crankish imperviousness to evidence from legitimate skepticism?” Do we have to trust whatever we’re told is based on a scientific consensus unless we can study the science ourselves? When can you doubt a consensus? When should you doubt it?

Your best bet is to look at the process that produced, defends and transmits the supposed consensus. I don’t know of any complete list of signs of suspicion. But here’s a checklist to decide when you can, even should, doubt a scientific “consensus,” whatever the subject. One of these signs may be enough to give pause. If they start to pile up, then it’s wise to be leery.

(1) When different claims get bundled together

Usually, in scientific disputes, there’s more than one claim at issue. With global warming, there’s the claim that our planet, on average, is getting warmer. There’s also the claim that we are the main cause of it, that it’s going to be catastrophic, and that we must transform civilization to deal with it. These are all different claims based on different evidence.

Evidence for warming, for instance, isn’t evidence for the cause of that warming. All the polar bears could drown, the glaciers melt, the sea levels rise 20 feet and Newfoundland become a popular place to tan: That wouldn’t tell us a thing about what caused the warming. This is a matter of logic, not scientific evidence. The effect is not the same as the cause.

There’s a lot more agreement about (1) a modest warming trend since about 1850 than there is about (2) the cause of that trend. There’s even less agreement about (3) the dangers of that trend, or of (4) what to do about it. But these four claims are often bundled together. So, if you doubt one, you’re labeled a climate change “skeptic” or “denier.” That’s dishonest. When well-established claims are tied with other, more controversial claims, and the entire bundle is labeled “consensus,” you have reason for doubt.

(2) When ad hominem attacks against dissenters predominate

Personal attacks are common in any dispute. It’s easier to insult than to the follow the thread of an argument. And just because someone makes an ad hominem argument, it doesn’t mean that their conclusion is wrong. But when the personal attacks are the first out of the gate, don your skeptic’s cap and look more closely at the data.

When it comes to climate change, ad hominems are everywhere. They’re even smuggled into the way the debate is described. The common label “denier” is one example. This label is supposed to call to mind the charge of columnist Ellen Goodman: “I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers.”

There’s an old legal proverb: If you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you have the law on your side, argue the law. If you have neither, attack the witness. When proponents of a scientific consensus lead with an attack on the witness, rather than on the arguments and evidence, be suspicious.

(3) When scientists are pressured to toe the party line

The famous Lysenko affair in the former Soviet Union is example of politics trumping good science. But it’s not the only way politics can override science. There’s also a conspiracy of agreement, in which assumptions and interests combine to give the appearance of objectivity where none exists. This is even more forceful than a literal conspiracy enforced by a dictator. Why? Because it looks like the agreement reflects a fair and independent weighing of the evidence.

Tenure, job promotions, government grants, media accolades, social respectability, Wikipedia entries, and vanity can do what gulags do, only more subtly. Alexis de Tocqueville warned of this almost two centuries ago. The power of the majority in American society, he wrote, could erect “formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them.” He could have been writing about climate science.

Indeed, the quickest way for scientists to put their careers at risk is to raise even modest questions about climate doom (see here, here and here). Scientists are under pressure to toe the party line on climate change and receive many benefits for doing so. That’s another reason for suspicion.

(4) When publishing and peer review in the discipline is cliquish

Though it has its limits, the peer-review process is meant to provide checks and balances. At its best, it helps weed out bad and misleading work, and make scientific research more objective. But when the same few people review and approve each other’s work, you get conflicts of interest. This weakens the case for the supposed consensus. It becomes, instead, another reason for doubt. Those who follow the climate debate have known for years about the cliquish nature of publishing and peer review in climate science (see here for example).

(5) When dissenters are excluded from the peer-reviewed journals not because of weak evidence or bad arguments but to marginalize them.

Besides mere cliquishness, the “peer review” process in climate science has, in some cases, been subverted to prevent dissenters from being published. Again, those who follow the debate have known about these problems for years. But the Climategate debacle in 2009 revealed some of the gory details for the broader public. And again, this gives the lay public a reason to doubt the consensus.

(6) When the actual peer-reviewed literature is misrepresented

We’ve been told for years that the peer-reviewed literature is unanimous in its support for human-induced climate change. In Science, Naomi Oreskes even produced a “study” of the literature supposedly showing “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.”

In fact, there are plenty of dissenting papers in the literature. This is despite mounting evidence that the peer-review deck was stacked against them. The 2009 Climategate scandal underscored this: The climate scientists at the center of the controversy complained in their emails about dissenting papers that survived the peer-review booby traps they put in place. They even fantasized about torpedoing a climate science journal that dared to publish a dissenting article.

(7) When consensus is declared before it even exists

A well-rooted scientific consensus, like a mature oak, needs time to grow. Scientists have to do research, publish articles, read about other research, and repeat experiments (where possible). They need to reveal their data and methods, have open debates, evaluate arguments, look at the trends, and so forth, before they can come to agreement. When scientists rush to declare a consensus — when they claim a consensus that has yet to form — this should give everyone pause.

In 1992, former Vice President Al Gore reassured his listeners, “Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the global warming crisis. The time for debate is over. The science is settled.” In the real 1992, however, Gallup “reported that 53% of scientists actively involved in global climate research did not believe global warming had occurred; 30% weren’t sure; and only 17% believed global warming had begun. Even a Greenpeace poll showed 47% of climatologists didn’t think a runaway greenhouse effect was imminent; only 36% thought it possible and a mere 13% thought it probable.”

Seventeen years later, in 2009, Gore revised his own fake history. He claimed that the debate over human-induced climate change had raged until as late as 1999, but now there was true consensus. Of course, 2009 is when Climategate broke, reminding us that what had smelled funny was indeed rotten.

(8) When the subject matter seems, by its nature, to resist consensus

It makes sense that chemists over time may come to agree about the results of some chemical reaction, since they can repeat the results over and over in their own labs. They’re easy to test. But much of climate science is not like that. The evidence is scattered and hard to track. It’s often indirect, imbedded in history and laden with theory. You can’t rerun past climate to test it. And the headline-grabbing claims of climate scientists are based on complex computer models that don’t match reality. These models get their input, not from the data, but from the scientists who interpret the data. This isn’t the sort of evidence that can provide the basis for a well-founded consensus. In fact, if there really were a consensus on the many claims around climate science, that would be suspicious. Thus, the claim of consensus is a bit suspect as well.

(9) When “scientists say” or “science says” is a common locution

In Newsweek’s April 28, 1975, issue, science editor Peter Gwynne claimed that “scientists are almost unanimous” that global cooling was underway. Now we are told, “Scientists say global warming will lead to the extinction of plant and animal species, the flooding of coastal areas from rising seas, more extreme weather, more drought and diseases spreading more widely.” “Scientists say” is ambiguous. You should wonder: “Which ones?”

Other times this vague company of scientists becomes “SCIENCE.” As when we’re told “what science says is required to avoid catastrophic climate change.” “Science says” is a weasely claim. “Science,” after all, is an abstract noun. It can’t speak. Whenever you see these phrases used to imply a consensus, it should trigger your baloney detector.

(10) When it is being used to justify dramatic political or economic policies

Imagine hundreds of world leaders and NGOS, science groups, and UN functionaries gathered for a meeting. It’s heralded as the most important conference since World War II, in which “the future of the world is being decided.” These officials seem to agree that institutions of “global governance” need to be set up to reorder the world economy and restrict energy use. Large numbers of them applaud wildly when socialist dictators denounce capitalism. Strange activism surrounds the gathering. And we are told by our president that all of this is based, not on fiction, but on science — that is, a scientific consensus that our greenhouse gas emissions are leading to climate catastrophe.

We don’t have to imagine that scenario, of course. It happened at the UN climate meeting in Copenhagen, in December 2009. It happened again in Paris, in December 2015. Expect something at least as zany at the March for Science.

Now, none of this disproves climate doom. But it does describe a setting in which truth need not appear. And at the least, when policy effects are so profound, the evidence should be rock solid. “Extraordinary claims,” the late Carl Sagan often said, “require extraordinary evidence.” When the megaphones of consensus insist that there’s no time, that we have to move, MOVE, MOVE!, you have a right to be wary.

(11) When the “consensus” is maintained by an army of water-carrying journalists who defend it with partisan zeal, and seem intent on helping certain scientists with their messaging rather than reporting on the field as fairly as possible

Do I really need to elaborate on this point?

(12) When we keep being told that there’s a scientific consensus

A consensus should be based on solid evidence. But a consensus is not itself the evidence. And with well-established scientific theories, you never hear about consensus. No one talks about the consensus that the planets orbit the sun, that the hydrogen molecule is lighter than the oxygen molecule, that salt is sodium chloride, that bacteria sometimes cause illness, or that blood carries oxygen to our organs. The very fact that we hear so much about a consensus on climate change may be enough to justify suspicion.

To adapt that old legal rule, when you’ve got solid scientific evidence on your side, you argue the evidence. When you’ve got great arguments, you make the arguments. When you don’t have solid evidence or great arguments, you claim consensus.

Adapted from THE AMERICAN. This piece has been updated since its original publication.

By Jay Richards and published on April 19, 2017 in The Stream and can be found here.

 

Don’t Dig Yourself Into A Hole

Check out Faye Cohen’s post to her blog Toughlawyerlady!

ToughLawyerLady

Don’t Dig Yourself Into A Hole

This is a pop quiz on when it is advantageous to hire a lawyer:

  1. At the beginning of a significant matter in your life which could have a financial and/or emotional impact on your future.
  2. After you have – already signed legal documents that could encumber you, or after you have been sued, or after your deadline to pursue a matter have passed.
  3. After a judgment has been entered against you in a lawsuit you did not defend; years after you did not monitor what was happening with a relative’s estate of which you are a beneficiary; after you settled on a piece of property and begin having major problems.

I would hope that most of my readers would have selected A. Yet in my experience, most people do not hire a lawyer until they have experienced problems in B or C. It is…

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Yessource: Live in Boston , 9/9/80

Here are my latest uploads to YesSource, my Yes rarities youtube page (about which you can read here).  This post is another addition to my series of Yes music posts.  I started this series here and a collection of all my Yes-related posts is here.  Yes, of course, is a, if not the, premier progressive rock band, and I am an enormous fan of it.

You can see all of my Yessource uploads here.

My latest YesSource uploads can be found here:

Sikhs Sue Over Army Accommodation of Religious Practices

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“A lawsuit was filed yesterday by three observant Sikhs who have enlisted in the Army, but who are encountering difficulties in obtaining accommodation to allow them to continue to wear beards, uncut hair, and turbans.  The 54 page complaint (full text) in Singh v. McConville, (D DC, filed 3/29/2016), alleges in part:

[T]he Army has a long pattern and practice of discriminating against Sikhs…. The Army’s regulations promise that soldiers whose religious exercise poses no significant obstacle to the military’s mission will be generously accommodated…. [H]owever, the regulations themselves are defective and foster religious discrimination on a number of levels…. [T]hey force soldiers who need religious accommodations to violate their religious beliefs before they can apply for an accommodation, even if their religious exercises would clearly have no impact on the military’s compelling interests.

The regulations are also … require soldiers to reapply for a religious accommodation every time they have a “transfer of duty stations, or other significant change in circumstances”….. The ambiguity in the regulations also creates an environment where the Army feels free to delay resolving requests for accommodation for long periods of time, leaving future soldiers in limbo and potentially forcing them to forgo other education and career opportunities while they wait for the Army’s decision.

Becket Fund issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

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