Sen. John McCain, at a town hall event held Wednesday in Michigan, singled out a girl wearing a t-shirt critical of him and challenged her to ask him a question. She asked about the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would have corrected the Supreme Court’s destructive ruling in >Ledbetter v. Goodyear: “I was wondering Senator McCain why you had the opportunity to vote to give equal rights to women equal pay [but] you didn't show up to vote and you said that if you did you wouldn't support it.”
“This question should be on the minds of millions of working women who may face pay discrimination during their careers,” said Kathryn Kolbert, president of People For the American Way. “Senator McCain had the perfect opportunity to embrace equal pay for equal work, but he instead parroted talking points fed to him by corporate lobbyists. It’s pretty clear from his response that he’s more concerned about the rights of big corporations than those of everyday Americans.”
People For the American Way has posted two videos with footage from the town hall. This video shows Sen. McCain going out of his way to put the girl on the spot and joking about it later on "The Daily Show." This video shows his entire response to her question (transcript below).
On Tuesday, Sen. McCain came out in full support of President Bush’s right-wing Supreme Court nominees, the very justices who found in Ledbetter that employees must file a complaint within 180 days of first falling victim to pay discrimination in order to be compensated. “But that’s unrealistic and unreasonable,” said Kolbert. “Employees who receive discriminatory pay typically don’t learn about it until many months or years later, if at all. And a single discriminatory act can have repercussions that last years — throughout a career and into retirement.”
“John McCain says the Fair Pay Act wouldn’t help women,” said Kolbert. “I’d like to see him tell that to Lilly Ledbetter. And I’d like to commend that young woman for standing up to John McCain at such a young age and asking the kind of substantive question that the media so rarely does.”
Transcript of exchange at 5/7/08 McCain town hall in Rochester, MI:
FOURTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL: Thank you. I was wondering Senator McCain why you had the opportunity to vote to give equal rights to women equal pay. I was wondering why you didn't show up to vote and you said that if you did you wouldn't support it.
MCCAIN: I think you are referring to a vote recently that would allowed — which would of eliminated the statute of limitations on lawsuits for charges or allegations of discrimination.
I think that if you eliminate the statue of limitations and make it unending then you have, maybe violating the rights of those being sued as well whether they be a man or a woman.
I believe that the Supreme Court's decision was correct, that there is a statue of limitations as to when charges or allegations or legal means are taken. And I believe it was a correct decision of the United States Supreme Court.
And I don't believe that this would do anything to help the rights of women except maybe help trial lawyers and others in that profession.
And that's my view....