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The Ledbetter Effect

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There was a good piece in the Times yesterday about the ripple effects of the Ledbetter decision throughout the lower courts. With Sam Alito as their guide, judges have apparently concluded that the statute of limitations in any particular discrimination case expired anywhere from five to ten years before the discrimination actually began. In at least one case, this was literally true:

The Idaho plaintiff, Noll Garcia, uses a wheelchair. He said his apartment violated federal standards because it was not readily accessible. Under the law, he had two years to challenge a “discriminatory housing practice” in court.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, writing for the majority, said this two-year period began when construction of the building was complete. Mr. Garcia lost out because he filed suit in 2003 — within two years of renting the apartment, but 10 years after it was built.

Legislating this nonsense away ought to be one of the top ten priorities for the incoming administration.

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On a similar note, I was hoping that the press might resolve in the new year to stop mentioning Joe the Plumber every few minutes. Apparently not. From the same article, there’s this:

Ms. Ledbetter, who worked at a Goodyear tire plant in Gadsden, Ala., for 19 years, spoke at the Democratic National Convention in August, campaigned for Mr. Obama and made a television commercial for him. She became a hero to many Democrats, their answer to “Joe the Plumber.”

Except that Lilly Ledbetter was a legitimate example of someone who suffered demonstrable, material harm from Republican ideas, whereas Joe Wurtzelbacher was a campaign gimmick whose failure as such was overshadowed only by the campaign gimmick selected as the Republican vice presidential nominee. And unless I’m mistaken, August still precedes October in the Gregorian calendar. I’m not sure, then, how Ledbetter becomes an “answer” to Joe the Plumber. But this is clearly good news for John McCain, and I suspect the race is beginning to tighten.

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