If the common law serves to liberate women, everybody, including judges, should understand the role they do play and should play in the development of the common law. As a career law clerk in the federal courts, I witnessed the decision-making process inside the chambers of federal judges and in the courtrooms. I came to the conclusion that judges, more than statutory law, influence what happens to female bodies in the workplace. Litigants initially drive the common law by filing complaints. However, judicial decisions affect not only the litigants in their individual cases, they also serve as precedent for future conduct, and they influence plaintiffs and their attorneys to file or forego litigation.
Maritza I. Reyes, The Female Body in the Workplace: Judges and the Common Law, Nw. U. L. Rev. Colloquy (2019).