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Episode description:

In this episode of Law, disrupted, John is joined by distinguished lawyer, professor, author, and former partner at Quinn Emanuel, Susan Estrich. Together they discuss the legal issues surrounding women’s rights, Roe v. Wade, gun rights, and the hijacking of ‘Me Too’.

The podcast was recorded on the day the Supreme Court announced its decision overturning the 50-year-old precedent of Roe v. Wade and allowing individual states to determine whether abortion is legal or not. As a long-time advocate for women’s rights and veteran of many political campaigns, Susan expressed that she had seen this decision coming, but she recognized that many were surprised by the decision because in addition to overturning 50 years of precedent, she believes that roughly 60/70% of the US population supports Roe v. Wade now, as opposed to 40 years ago when the decision did not have that level of support.

Together, John and Susan discuss how precedents have been overturned in the past, but human rights and individual liberty have been expanded in the process. They then contrast the current situation in which, for the first time, an older generation in the US will have more individual rights than younger generations. They then go on to discuss how access to abortion will depend on wealth, socioeconomic status, and where one lives, with the new laws ignoring the rights of lower class, vulnerable women, and teenagers, but not affecting upper-class and wealthy women. Finally, Susan identifies several states where she believes the political battles later this year will be particularly intense because of this ruling.

The conversation then turns to the Supreme Court’s decision earlier in the week striking down the New York law on carrying handguns in public. The two discuss how the Court’s ruling ran counter to public opinion in the wake of the horrendous events in Uvalde, Texas. Finally, John and Susan examine the rationale set forth in the Heller opinion that first recognize an individual’s right to bear arms. 

The conversation moves to what Susan describes as the ‘Hijacking of Me Too.’ Susan passionately argues that Amber Heard was wrong to call the verdict of the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial, “a defeat for the whole Me Too movement.” She opines that the verdict in that case was a defeat for Amber Heard individually rather than for the movement as a whole. She also observes that women who claim to represent the movement, but get caught lying about their individual cases might discourage legitimate victims from coming forward with their own stories. 

The discussion turns to how the owner of the Washington Commanders was pilloried in the press for hiring his own private investigator to look into allegations of sexual misconduct made against him. The two discuss the dangers to the legal system that will ensue if investigating allegations is considered proof of guilt and even rumors of misconduct against a prominent figure become impossible to survive. 

The two discuss the role that confidentiality provisions have in settling misconduct claims and how if confidentiality provisions are not respected, defendants have little incentive to settle. They touch upon California’s recent legislation prohibiting employers from requiring employees to arbitrate harassment claims and the effects that will have on settlements.

John and Susan then turn to Susan’s extensive experience on all sides of harassment cases, including seeing press conferences in which a purported victim of harassment decries the terms of a confidentiality agreement she had signed without disclosing that she had also confidentially settled similar claims against another accused harasser. Susan then talked about her fears that accusers like the woman she mentions would undermine the entire Me Too movement. 

They discuss the Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein cases and the danger of the cases as precedent. In particular, they examine the dangers of admitting into evidence everything from a man’s sexual past as well as a presumption that NDAs are automatically admissible. They then speculate whether an accuser’s previous history of making accusations should also be admissible.

Finally, John and Susan discuss some of the fundamental positive changes brought about by the Me Too movement and how they have affected everyday behavior in the workplace.

Published: Jun 29 2022

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