Legal Voice Programs
Legal Voice brings cases that change the law throughout the Northwest states (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington). We file amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs in cases affecting women throughout the nation, and provide assistance in litigation, legislation, and advocacy to allies throughout the region.
Legal Voice drafts, analyzes and advocates for bills affecting women and their families in Washington State, and provides legal and technical assistance and model legislation to advocates in the region.
Legal Voice believes that educating people about their legal rights empowers them to make decisions and advocate for themselves and their families. Legal Voice educates communities about pressing legal issues through community forums, collaborations, and our self help materials.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Legal Voice filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief in a recent case where a rapist received an extraordinarily lenient 31-day sentence for raping a minor in Montana. We argued that the sentencing decision was based on long-discredited myths about rape, and that the judge's statements blamed the victim for the crime, ignored the obvious power disparity between the victim and the rapist, and trivialized rape. On April 30th, the MT Supreme Court agreed with us, ruling unanimously that the rapist should receive a much longer sentence, and that the case should be assigned to a different judge.·
Legal Voice, along with other women’s rights organizations, will launch the Equal Pay Today Campaign
, which calls for national and state action to end the following practices contributing to the gender wage gap:
- Less pay for the same job: this occurs in nearly every occupation
- Job segregation: Sex role stereotypes lead to women being segregated into female-dominated jobs
- Retaliation against workers for discussing their pay.
- Pay reductions due to pregnancy and caregiving responsibilities.
- Wage theft: Women in many industries are paid less than the minimum wage, shorted hours, forced to work off the clock, not paid overtime, or not paid at all.
Legal Voice was a key player in the effort to achieve and then retain marriage equality in Washington, advocating for the legislation, serving on the Steering Committee of Ref 74
, and working on the ballot title litigation to ensure voters understood what the law would do.
Last year, Legal Voice was before the WA Supreme Court, advocating for the rights of low-income people to have access to the courts. Our client, Ms. Jafar, earned only $4300/year, but when she tried to get a restraining order against her ex-partner, the court told her she needed to pay fees she simply could not afford. No one should be shut out of the courthouse because of money. The state Supreme Court agreed, ruling unanimously that low-income litigants like Ms. Jafar must have all fees waived, so they have the same rights to justice as more affluent people.