In four separate states, plaintiffs have filed class action lawsuits challenging the so-called "tampon tax," the state sales tax imposed on feminine hygiene products. Over at Feminist Law Professors (here and here) there are two interviews: one with Dana Brooks Cooper, the attorney who represents the Florida plaintiff in the challenge to that state's tax, and one with Zoe Salzman, the attorney who represents the New York plaintiffs (that suit was filed before New York prospectively changed its law).
One highlight from the interview with Ms. Cooper:
Crawford: For law students who might be reading this interview, can you describe the kinds of things did you do in law school to prepare you to become a litigator and take on a case as big as this tampon tax case?
Cooper: Be active in clubs, volunteer for non-profits and political campaigns, read your damn local newspaper, know your representatives, pay attention to policy, use this time to get familiar with the issues that matter to you at the local, state and national levels. This may sound strange, but find out what your values are. * * *
True story – I know an attorney who makes over $1 million a year, is a good trial lawyer, awesome husband and father, and devours everything he can get his hands on that helps him give better service to his clients and generally improve every aspect of his life. But he is almost completely politically ignorant. He is frequently embarrassed when he runs into our local and state officials because he doesn’t know who they are or where they stand on issues that are life and death to his own law practice (tort reformers). His ignorance can be extremely costly. To me, he’s practicing without a good 25% of the information he needs to do a good job in front of a jury and lead his firm into the future. No serious litigator or business owner would ever knowingly hamstring himself like that. But that is what ignorance of policy, politics, and current events is – a deficiency. It’s a weakness.
One highlight from the interview with Ms. Salzman:
Crawford: One interesting thing about this case is that the New York Department of Taxation and Finance seems to have made a very deliberate decision to tax tampons and pads, whereas adult diapers, incontinence pads, condoms and hair regrowth treatments like Rogaine are not subject to tax. Why do you think the Department decided to tax tampons and pads? Do you think there was a discriminatory intent?
Salzman: President Obama has speculated that the tampon tax exists because men—not women—wrote the tax codes. We need discovery in our case to get a better sense of how, and by who, that decision came to be made in New York, but there is no question that it was a very deliberate decision to treat tampons as luxury items and Rogaine as a medical necessity.
For those who missed it, earlier this year President Obama was asked about the tampon tax by YouTuber Ingrid Nilsen. Here is a clip from that interview: