Slippery Slope Law / Discrimination the Definition Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

Slippery Slope Law / Discrimination

The definition of the slope and its legal implications are largely hypothetical. According to Eugene Volokh, an action that is voted in -- say a ban on guns provides with the curtailment of many other things -- like confiscation of guns, costs or data bases and many other legislations that flows into creating a system that was not envisaged in the first place or would have been the primary action. For example the gun control could flow into some other area like searches and restriction and create an altogether different system. The analogy of the slippery slope where an act of a camel causes a slope to flood and grow an oak in consequence -- the original act being something different intended is to be considered. (Volokh, 48) In truth is there such a slippery slope in legislation?

Thesis Statement: "There is no such slope or unintended outcome of legal acts, and the consequences of legal advances in one area does not influence the growth of unintended legislative or other action in other areas and the slippery slope concept and analogy is not well founded."


Thus the question if seen from the point-of-view of legislation takes the form of thought about what actually prompts the society to legislate and take action. There is the basis of human feelings and reason which lead to determining the best way of regulating human affairs. Any legal position follows from reason and man has accorded a superior position to reason, and it is reason that is used to select, test and create beliefs and laws and thus there is "the rule of reason." (Schlag, 40)

Thus in American law and jurisprudence, reason and the appeal to reason decides matters. It can be argued that reason is however based on belief. So the important aspect of law, authority, tradition and enforcement has their origin in some form of basic belief. Some of the views and belief can at times be hostile to reason. Thus there are irreconcilable paradoxes and opposite set of needs that simultaneously clamor for recognition yet are inconsistent. (Schlag, 40) One example is the 'right to life' and debates on euthanasia. The concept of voluntary death is being opposed on the basis that human life is sacred and cannot be removed even by consent and this is actually a prerogative of god, which denotes a religious belief. The sanctity of life as defined by the religion has been modified to 'right of life' as fundamental right leaves out the religious question. (Hendrick, 247)

Yet the right to life remains a paradox especially when that life is to be snuffed out to end its suffering. The question is if right to life itself gets extinguished in times of war, and in cases of extreme need the individual is put to risk of life at the behest of the state. So on one hand the slope that began from the Judeo Christian concept of divine displeasure was converted to a right that spewed many more legislations that created more rights and has come back full circle to consider the opposite of 'right to life' -- namely right to death. The other area where there has been large scale legal and social activity is the workplace and the claims for and against the slope concept has become more debatable on account of the legislations that have been passed regarding workplace discrimination and these therefore bear scrutiny.

Statement of claims:

The fundamental reason why the abundant litigation and laws are being made in the discrimination issue is not because of the slippery effect of legislating on beliefs. Issues in the workplace occur for reasons that are more faulty management approach rather than discrimination. Basically animosity at the workplace occurs because of faulty communication techniques and poor interviewing and hiring procedures. The modern maxim thus is "When in doubt, sue my employer." (Covey, 74)

All suits arising from the work place need not come from genuine discrimination. Suits are also filed by sheer need to overcome frustration, personal failures and anger. The growing nature of the litigation indicates that there is something wrong with employment relationships, and harassment suits commonly follow -- according to the 'Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission', firstly on race discrimination, followed by sexual and disability discrimination. In fact the personal life of the personnel has come to be evaluated for costs and risks to the employer in terms of for example insurance costs. That is why there is a running controversy about the smoking laws. There are illustrations where someone testing positive for nicotine in a company that does not employ smokers because of expenses can create a slippery slope of legal arguments as it occurred in Rodrigues v. The Scotts Company, LLC in federal court in Boston. (Schwartz, Schussing down the slippery slope of lifestyle discrimination Section Review)

The refusal of the defendant to employ smokers citing higher insurance costs also can be seen as an intrusion into the private life of the employee, even away from the work place. Harvey A. Schwartz argues that Rodrigues v. The Scotts Company case has set a slippery slope that can in future allow for companies to monitor the personal life and activities of employees to a high degree that even such things as cholesterol and the habits of the employees and the recreation and sport of the employees. In other words the snowball could elevate the employer to the unsolicited position of the big brother. Thus any person engaging in harmful, but voluntary activities that is considered undesirable by the employer can cause problems. There ought to be a proper legal floor that can take on the conflicts of this type. (Schwartz, Schussing down the slippery slope of lifestyle discrimination Section Review)

Thus there is more to the discrimination laws and the arguments that show that the slope is real in terms of legislations that can create reactions from involved parties which cannot be anticipated. Some such are the discrimination laws in employment that can be considered in detail.

Laws and the discrimination laws:

There were many laws that were aimed at removing work place discrimination, especially based on race. It was however in the 1980s the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission opined that sexual discrimination violates the Section 703 of Title VII which prohibits discrimination "in compensation, conditions, or privileges of employment because of an individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." (Achampong, 17)

Regarding sexual harassment there are recognized two types, the quid proquo and hostile-environment. These types of harassments are where the quid pro quo harassment is defined in terms of an unwelcome attention in the form of sexual advances, and requirement of sexual favors. This is widened to include any other conduct of verbal or physical nature that could be construed as a sexual advance. The problem in the employment comes when there is a demanded submission to sexual activity as a requirement for employment either explicitly or implicitly and alternately the rejection of such an advance is made as an excuse for dismissal or other work place actions. The EEOC has reversed its stand to include only the quid pro quo sexual harassment as a legitimate cause of action and was borne out in the Williams v Saxbe case in the District of Columbia and it was in this case that the sexual harassment was classified as sexual discrimination. It was declared to be an act in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Achampong, 18)

One set of argument -- where the camel in Eugene Volokh's example puts its head in the tent is when the people at large or public opinion becomes so impressive that it becomes politically correct to legislate and take action the way the public desire. This may also trample upon other rights established earlier by the same public. The public opinion perhaps may be biased and not the proper yardstick for the reasoning. For example, Americans abhor discrimination against historically disadvantaged groups as an important government interest and is thus a very compelling area where legislation is required. This for the need to overcome the laws of civil liberties and the law to be constitutionally valid, it must be shown that it is suicidal for society not to limit civil liberties in order to pursue it. (Bernstein, 11) There can be any number of examples that can go to show that there is the paradox as explained by Eugene Volokh.

Considering the First Amendment and the speeches that incite violence it can be shown that courts are reluctant to travel the slippery slope. Though, incendiary speech may result in violence, and the speeches glorifying violent behavior for example "gangsta rap" has not come under a court ban. In the case of the antidiscrimination principles the laws have been made to override even the First Amendment rights. The travel on the slippery slope can be seen in the fact that the antidiscrimination laws are…

Cite This Thesis:

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