Catharine A. MacKinnon To Speak on First Amendment, Equality

Pioneering Advocate Against Sexual Harassment, Gender Crimes Will Deliver McCorkle Lecture
Catharine A. MacKinnon

Catharine A. MacKinnon has advocated for gender equality both domestically and internationally. Photo courtesy of Catharine A. MacKinnon

January 6, 2020

Professor Catharine A. MacKinnon, an expert in sex equality known for her pioneering work arguing that sexual harassment constitutes sex discrimination, will deliver the McCorkle Lecture at the University of Virginia School of Law on Feb. 6.

MacKinnon will speak on “The First Amendment: An Equality Reading” in Caplin Pavilion at 4 p.m. The event is open to the public and parking is available in D2 lots.

MacKinnon is the Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School and the James Barr Ames Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School since 2009. She is the author of a dozen books, including the groundbreaking “Sexual Harassment of Working Women,” published in 1979, and the casebook “Sex Equality.”

In 1980, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission followed MacKinnon’s framework on sexual harassment in adopting guidelines prohibiting both quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment. She later worked with feminist writer Andrea Dworkin in proposing that pornography was a form of human trafficking, and developed a civil ordinance against pornography based on civil rights rather than obscenity.

Her work has been widely influential. The Supreme Court of Canada largely accepted her approaches to equality, pornography and hate speech. Representing Bosnian women survivors of Serbian genocidal sexual atrocities, she won with co-counsel a $745 million verdict at trial in 2000. The case, Kadic v. Karadzic, was the first recognition of rape as an act of genocide.

As an expert on international law, from 2008-12, MacKinnon served as the first special gender adviser to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. In 2014, she was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association of American Law Schools Women’s Division and was elected to the American Law Institute. In 2019, the National Organization for Women gave her the Woman of Vision Award. She practices and consults regularly with the United Nations, ERA Coalition and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.

The McCorkle Lectureship was established in memory of Claiborne Ross McCorkle 1910, by his widow, Hazel Webb McCorkle, and his son, George M. McCorkle.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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