In a charming throwback to the Donna Reed days, the love life of prominent females is fair game for scrutiny. According to Justice Sotomayor, “during the nomination process she was asked for the names of everyone she ever dated.” She does not believe, nor do I, that men are subjected to similar memory tests. What could be the relevance of such a question? The justices already recuse themselves from cases in which they are close to the case, the parties, or the lawyers. Justice Kagan has had to recuse herself from a number of matters this year, since she just came from the Solicitor General’s Office.
Female candidates for any job may be subject to questions or judgments based upon their personal life. Sometimes it’s just an annoyance, but often such focus is illegal. If an employer decides, for example, that a female employee is more likely to be absent or less likely to be willing to travel because of her family obligations, that is gender discrimination. An assumption that she will quit when she gets married again reminds us of the 1950s. And the hope that hiring an attractive woman will provide amusement for a boss looking for some love – well, that’s just jumping into a sexual harassment claim.