NWLC Responds to Amy Coney Barrett's Ruling In the Shonda Martin Case

(Washington, D.C. - October 18, 2020 ) In a 2018 ruling during her term on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Amy Coney Barrett reversed a lawsuit filed by Shonda Martin, a 19-year-old pregnant woman held at a Milwaukee County correctional facility who alleged she was raped by a prison guard. According to the opinion of Judge Barrett's court, the County could not be held liable because the guard was not acting in his official duties during the assault.

The following is a statement from Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women's Law Center:

"Amy Coney Barrett's dangerous ruling in the case of Shonda Martin is not the first, nor last, example of her extremist beliefs. In this Seventh Circuit ruling, she and her male colleagues held that it was completely irrational to conclude that a prison guard could have used sexual assault as a method of achieving the power and discipline over an inmate that it was his job to exercise. This decision completely disregards the lived experiences of millions of sexual assault survivors who are not only victims of their abusers, but the institutions that enable them. Just as she elsewhere undermined efforts to ensure schools address sexual harassment and assault under Title IX, here too she weakened institutions' obligations to protect those vulnerable to sexual abuse. Barrett's record is a veritable handbook on how to use the courts to devalue the needs of women, as well as our very democracy. Confirming Amy Coney Barrett is a mistake that would reverse a generation's worth of progress; the Senate must stop this sham process."

The National Women's Law Center fights for gender justice - in the courts, in public policy, and in our society - working across the issues that are central to the lives of women and girls. We use the law in all its forms to change culture and drive solutions to the gender inequity that shapes our society and to break down the barriers that harm all of us - especially those who face multiple forms of discrimination, including women of color, LGBTQ people, and low-income women and families. For more than 45 years, we have been on the leading edge of every major legal and policy victory for women. Find out more at NWLC.org.

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