Amicus Curiae Examines Women’s Rights


Dr. Marjorie J. Spruill, author of Divided We Stand

Sarah Davis, Staff Reporter

Dr. Marjorie J. Spruill spoke on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at the most recent Amicus Curiae lecture “to shed some light on the deeply polarized and bitterly political partisan/political culture that we live in now, and how it came to be that way.” 

Spruill is the author of Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics, the themes of which served as focal points for her lecture. 

The book explores the early events of the women’s rights movements, including the decision of Roe v. Wade, Title IX, “federally funded feminism” and the fightback of political and/or religious groups against the Equal Rights Amendment. 

The main portion of Divided We Stand explores the individuality of the states and how they conducted the Women’s Rights Movement. Spruill believes these state meetings were “the heart of the story” for women’s rights in the 1970s.

She went on to comment on how these individual state meetings paved the way for the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas. 

“This was an extraordinary event in U.S. history,” she said. 

Spruill also discussed how the National Women’s Conference sparked a new phenomenon, which led to the National Plan of Action and further opportunities for women.

The final section of Divided We Stand talks about how the Women’s Rights Movement of the 1970s affects the present day. However, Spruill added that much has happened since Divided We Stand was published in 2017. She mentioned an increase of women politicians, the Me Too movement and the reversal of Roe v. Wade. With an increase of women politicians, many Americans can also see a political divide.

“Women are more visible and powerful in politics than ever before but clearly stand divided,” she said. 

Spruill concluded her lecture with a summary of what she discussed, saying:

“Issues that affect us, in the most personal and profound manner possible, issues loaded with moral and religious significance that lead women to profoundly different conclusions, continue to be fought out in the political arena and settled at the ballot box.” 

Dr. Patricia Proctor, director of the Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy, hosted the event. The Amicus Curiae Lecture Series is sponsored by the center alongside the West Virginia Humanities Council.