Rankin-Chisholm Rule to advance women's leadership
Posted February 19, 2019
This project seeks pro bono attorneys to analyze the legality and legal implications of strategies to advance the “Rankin-Chisholm Rule” to increase women’s representation in hiring on Capitol Hill, in political campaigns and parties, and government positions at the federal, state, and local levels.
Named for the first white woman and the first African American woman to win seats in Congress, the Rankin-Chisholm Rule is loosely based on the Rooney Rule that elevates race as a factor in key hiring decisions. RepresentWomen is advancing the Rankin-Chisholm Rule to spotlight the need for a gender lens when hiring Hill/campaign/legislative staff, appointing cabinet members and other senior staff, and recruiting and supporting female candidates.
Currently the Rankin-Chisholm Rule is being discussed on the Hill as a tool to increase the number of women hired to key staff positions, but there is an opportunity to press for its use for presidential campaign staff and consultants and to challenge candidates to commit to gender balanced cabinets. There is also the potential for the Rankin-Chisholm Rule to be adopted by the DNC platform committee as a plank to symbolize its commitment to gender balance in the party. If the DNC, or other national parties, were to adopt the Rankin-Chisholm Rule, then it'd be likely that state parties would do the same, providing women's representation advocates real leverage to demand action. Another possible application of the Rankin-Chisholm Rule would be for vacancy elections/appointment at the state legislative or executive level - it could be very impactful to push political parties to adopt a rule that at least one woman must always be considered as a candidates to fill a vacancy. Similarly, local and state parties could show a commitment to recruit and support more female candidates by adopting the Rankin Chisholm Rule. It would be great to vet these ideas with attorneys to consider the legal implications of the Rankin-Chisholm Rule (if any) and to consider implementation and enforcement strategies.