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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Somber Times for Justice

The Honorable Judge Donald P. Lay, former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and vigorous defender of civil rights—who has been willing to speak out against an increasingly conservative circuit's indifference to discrimination—passed away this weekend. The New York Times paid tribute to Judge Lay in an obituary yesterday. In honor of Judge Lay, here is an excerpt from his decision in the landmark sexual harassment case Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co.:

It should be obvious that the callous pattern and practice of sexual harassment engaged in by Eveleth Mines inevitably destroyed the self-esteem of the working women exposed to it. The emotional harm, brought about by this record of human indecency, sought to destroy the human psyche as well as the human spirit of each plaintiff. The humiliation and degradation suffered by these women is irreparable. Although money damage cannot make these women whole or even begin to repair the injury done, it can serve to set a precedent that in the environment of the working place such hostility will not be tolerated.

The Times lauded Judge Lay’s courage in protecting the rights “of even the most reviled members of our society.” Such judicial courage seems to be sorely lacking these days, and we are deeply saddened by the loss of this outstanding jurist.

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