Was work/life balance question sexist?

August 7, 2014
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Indiana Justice Loretta Rush was asked during her interview about maintaining a work/life balance. But none of the men were asked about that issue at their subsequent interviews.

I want to give Goshen attorney John Ulmer, the commission member who asked the question, the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe he didn’t realize just asking Rush how she will balance her work obligations with her home obligations comes across as sexist. I want to believe he asked the question because she has a minor child still at home, and none of the other justices do.

But it is a sexist question, even with the best intentions.

And we’re not the only ones who noticed. Several attorneys on social media pointed out that Rush was the lone justice asked that question.

If you are a woman, having dependent children does not mean you are incapable of fully and properly completing your job. And not having dependent children doesn’t mean you still don’t have to balance your work life and your home life. You or your spouse could come down with a serious illness. You may have to take care of an aging parent. You may volunteer a lot of your free time helping out a charity.  

Rush told commission members the work/life balance issue is one that everyone faces.

“I just really became a really good time manager,” she said, explaining she uses every minute of her commute home to Lafayette, for instance. She said the balance is made easier because of her family.

When it comes to raising a child today in a household where both parents work or only one parent is present, you may have to rely on family, friends or outside help. That’s the reality of today – whether you are a mother or a father.

Rush has built a distinguished career while being a wife and mother, something that all women who work outside the home strive for. There are many women who have figured out how to juggle all the responsibilities life throws at us. Yes, there are sacrifices that working mothers have to make, and yes, there are choices that have to be made daily regarding whether to spend that extra hour working on an important business matter or making your child’s softball game. I know that working fathers also have to make sacrifices when it comes to their home lives.

I could go on and on about work/life balance, but instead, I’ll congratulate Chief Justice Loretta Rush on her new position. Hopefully, the next time the court has to choose a new chief justice, the issue of work/life balance won’t even be a question because the commission members know it is something that everyone – male or female – faces and finds a way to make work. If one has made it to the Indiana Supreme Court, then one must surely know how to find that balance.
 

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  • OMG!
    Of course a man asked such a question. He is thinking--gee if she was my wife, I might have to cook dinner or go to a school meeting or do the laundry if I want clean underwear if she gets picked as Chief Justice. OMG!
  • Not all women
    Not all women who work outside the home strive to be mothers and/or wives (or even to have distinguished careers). If you're going to take Ulmer to task for his assumptions, take stock of your own, too.

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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