We Need a Second Season of ‘Mrs. America.’ Here’s WhyRoundup
tags: conservatism, Supreme Court, womens history, judiciary, Phyllis Schlafly
Magdalene Zier is a graduate student at Stanford University, pursuing a JD in law and a PhD in history.
On the eve of Women’s History Month, the Golden Globe Awards snubbed FX’s “Mrs. America,” a highly acclaimed series that traces the career of Phyllis Schlafly, the infamous anti-feminist, and her battle against the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Opposite Cate Blanchett’s Schlafly, a star-studded ensemble portrays Schlafly’s feminist foes like Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan and Shirley Chisholm. The show concludes around 1980, with Ronald Reagan in the White House and the ERA’s deadline set to expire.
But Schlafly’s career didn’t stop there — and the show shouldn’t either. In fact, Schlafly’s second act was just as controversial and consequential. And “Mrs. America” season 2 would be just as captivating. Perhaps the role of Schlafly in her later years could even be played by Cecil B. DeMille Award winner Jane Fonda.
After achieving national notoriety as the figurehead of STOP ERA, Schlafly set her sights on rolling back other feminist legal gains — work that conservative judges, including women like Justice Amy Coney Barrett continue today. Schlafly published more than a dozen books and countless newsletters, and she threw the weight of her 50,000 Eagle Forum followers behind conservative causes like obstructing same-sex marriage and championing religion in schools. Now with a J.D. under her belt (she graduated from the Washington University School of Law in 1978 at age 53), she also turned her attention to the courts, opening fire on “activist” progressive judges.
Schlafly even sought a Supreme Court seat for herself. In both 1981 and 1987, she made bids for vacancies on the bench, recruiting her influential allies to write to Reagan on her behalf.
When Reagan tapped Sandra Day O’Connor to fill Justice Potter Stewart’s seat in 1981, Schlafly was outraged. The personal slight surely stung, but Schlafly zeroed in on O’Connor’s relatively liberal views on abortion, women’s rights and religion. Schlafly mobilized thousands for a Dallas rally and, according to the Phoenix Gazette, panned O’Connor as “out of step with the pro-family, pro-life policies on which the president was elected.”
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