This Week’s Cartoon: “Welcome to Ball-Mart”

I’m sensing a distinct lack of outrage over the Wal-Mart sex discrimination ruling, probably because it’s more complicated an issue than a politician tweeting boner pics. In a nutshell (er, no pun intended), the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against female employees being able to file a class-action lawsuit, with all three female justices dissenting. Scalia, refusing to see any correlation in the vast statistical and anecdotal evidence, said the myriad women who faced discrimination must confront the retail Goliath individually. Never mind that the top brass at Wal-Mart turned a blind eye to everything. The discriminatory managers were just a few thousand bad apples! Oh, and as Ruben Bolling points out in this week’s “Tom the Dancing Bug” Scalia’s son is on the Wal-Mart legal team.

I recommend this post by Adam Serwer on The American Prospect for more on the ruling. Key grafs:

Not only do you have to prove the “old boy network exists,” but now you have to do it under a higher standard of proof than ever before. Where discrimination operates as unconscious or unacknowledged bias, rather than as a deliberate, concerted effort to bar one particular group of people from advancing, even where the systemic impact is clear, the conservative justices see no evil.

Scalia’s opinion reflects the deeply flawed view that intent is required for discrimination, and that nominally being opposed to discrimination is by itself an effective bulwark against discrimination occuring. As Ginsburg wrote in her partial dissent, “Managers, like all humankind, may be prey to biases of which they are unaware.”

Or, as this USA Today editorial points out:

Many legal experts say Monday’s decision will make it difficult to bring cases unless there is an overt policy of discrimination. That seldom happens. Companies don’t write out discriminatory policies for the world to see.

What good is outlawing sex discrimination de jure if it cannot be applied de facto? But hey, we saved the world from Anthony Weiner’s pixelated wang.


  • Roger Bloyce

    Scalia and his neocon political activist confreres; Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy, constitute by far the worst Supreme Court majority in American history. While the President dithers and the Congress becomes increasingly dysfunctional, they consolidate the corporate oligarchy, thus assuring America’s decline and fall.

    Their worst travesty of justice so far came in January, when the Five Stooges ruled in Citizen’s United that corporate funding of political broadcasts cannot be limited — and need not even be revealed — because that would somehow be a violation of constitutional free speech. Their majority opinion was based on the absurd contention that corporations are human beings.

    Wal-Mart, schmalmart. Any way you can cartoon the Five Stooges is welcome evidence that responsible journalism may not yet be dead.

  • Tom

    The same logic as Scalia’s would have undermined many of the great decisions that led to the Civil Rights revolution. Southern states (and many non-Southern states, too) had laws on the books that *everybody* could register to vote and that any citizen could serve on a jury. But in practice, those laws were written on water. The same appears to apply at Mal-Wart: “We can’t possibly have any discrimination here, because there’s a notice on the bulletin board about it!”

  • Jen Sorensen

    Good points both. I find something paradoxical about how the Extreme Supremes deem corporations to be “persons” when it comes to free speech (or more accurately, the freedom to purchase speech), but when the corporation has treated its employees unfairly, it suddenly becomes a disparate collection of individuals and not a person-like entity at all. Like liquid mercury scattering into so many tiny beads, responsibility becomes utterly diffuse and unaddressable.

  • Bill Freese

    “I’m sensing a distinct lack of outrage over the Wal-Mart sex discrimination ruling”
    Clearly, you were not at my house that day.
    I think I may have pointed this out before, but when we were appointing these big business toadies to the highest court in the land, all anybody wanted to talk about was abortion. Let us all try to remember the next time a stooge is nominated to the Supreme Court that a groveling servant of the rich and powerful who agrees to be vague on abortion is still NOT a good choice.

  • Bill

    Just to point out the Democrats’ role in this, Obama, while a United States Senator, supported the Class Action Fairness Act, which much it much more difficult to bring a class action in federal court. So on the one level you have a brazen display of arrogant corruption by Scalia and his gang, and on another level you have Democratic support for the very same result, just in a slightly less, um, cartoonishly villianous fashion. Or fascion, so to speak.

  • Bill

    “Class Action fairness Act, which MADE it much more difficult….”

  • Jen Sorensen

    Point well-taken, most recent Bill. I do level some criticism at Obama in this week’s installment.

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.