Posted by John Andrews on Mar 28, 2018
President Faletti brought the meeting to order on a sunny spring day, with all chairs in the room filled.  Bob Jones, Jerry, Chuck Field and all led the group in song and musical accompaniment.
 
Bob Cardinal offered the inspirational moment and Tom Farnham facilitated the introduction of half a dozen visiting Rotarians and guests, after Heidi Fisher and Sarah Kolar had greeted them at the door.
 
Linda Mulhern spoke about Camp RYLA and food packing for FMSC.  March birthdays were celebrated, with extra cupcakes for those who looked hungry.
 
Thank you’s between friends, celebrations of career and family achievement, and Rotary news and events were celebrated with happy dollars.  Former Rotarian Patricia McDonald, of Afton Press, was remembered.  She passed away on March 26.
 
President-elect Trixie Golberg introduced our speaker, Leondra Hanson, who is an attorney and serves on the faculty of Hamline Law School.  She shared highlights from a presentation that she gave to the National Association of Women Lawyers last year, focusing on myths and realities around constitutional protections for women.
 
Her analysis began with social conditions 200 years ago, coincident with the writing of the US Constitution and the fundamentals of individual rights as ascribed to women at that time.  Blackstone had previously influenced the idea that a married couple was “one person”, and that the wife enjoyed the rights that were in the man’s name – not in hers.  This was known as coverture.
 
100 years after coverture was established in our constitution, an woman named Myra Bradwell worked for many years to gain recognition as a practicing attorney in Illinois.  She fought her way to the Illinois Supreme Court, was denied on a couple of different bases, and then took the case to the United States Supreme Court where she also lost.
 
One of the justices, however, wrote an opinion that became the basis for state-by-state change over time, and gradually women began to gain the right to practice law.
 
Another 100 years later, the proposed Equal Rights Amendment gained much attention over a span of several years in the 1970s, but it never passed and doesn’t exist in any constitutional form today as proposed at that time.  Eventually, after many attempts to apply the 14th Amendment to cases involving women’s rights, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling that extended the equal protections contemplated in that previous amendment to women, although the original intent of the amendment was focused on minority populations of men.
 
Questions from the Rotarians present covered a range of current events, mostly through the lenses of Title IX or Roe v. Wade.  The speaker ended with the observation that collegiality between peoples with regard to constitutional rights for women is waning overall, and she finds this to be troubling and unfortunate. 
 
Respectfully Submitted,

 
John Andrews
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