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Cases Relating to Sex Discrimination and the 14th Amendment

  • Bradwell v. Illinois

    Bradwell v. Illinois
    Upheld Illinois’ refusal to allow women to receive a license in law. Justice Bradley states that the fourteenth amendment didn’t apply because it assumes that “one of the privileges and immunities of women as citizens to engage in any and every profession, occupation, or employment in civil life”. Women did not have a right to participate in law because women’s place wasn’t in the workplace it was in the home.
  • Muller v. Oregon

    Muller v. Oregon
    Oregon created a law that limited the time women could work to ten hours of work in factories. The court decided their was no constitutional violation because a womans "physical structure" would limit her ability to work and could cause reproductive problems. The due process clause in the fourteenth amendment did not protect women in this case. If decided today, the opinion would be different. A state cannot enact a law that limits the amount of time women but not men can work.
  • Goesaert v. Cleary

    Goesaert v. Cleary
    Upheld Michigan law that women could not be issued a liquor license unless she was wife/daughter of the male owner. This makes women even more dependent on men and unable to open up a bar of their own. Court said the 14th amendment “does not preclude the States from drawing a sharp line between sexes” and allowing women to have a license may lead to “moral and social problems”.
  • Reed v. Reed

    Reed v. Reed
    The Supreme Court invalidated gender classification for the first time.Gave a mother the claim to her passed son's belongings over the father. Mr. Chief Justice Berger said that if women were to be treated differently than men there had to be a reasonable justification not arbitrary. The 14th amendment was to make sure all persons similarly situated would be treated the same under the law.
  • Roe v. Wade

    Roe v. Wade
    In this case Roe wanted to terminate her pregnancy by getting an abortion but couldn't because of Texas law which prohibited abortions. The Court decided that a right to an abortion fell under the right to privacy protected by the 14th amendment's concept of personal liberty. This gave woman had total autonomy during the first trimester of pregnancy. Roe v Wade also shows how the 14th amendment can be used in more ways than the more traditional use of sex discrimination such as in the workplace.
  • Fronterio v. Richardson

    Fronterio v. Richardson
    Federal law made wives of members of the military automatically dependents on their husbands yet husbands had to prove their dependency. The court decided it discriminated against women under the due process clause of the 5th amendment because it gave men and women who were similarly situated unequal treatment. Justice Brennan wrote "sex characteristic frequently bears no relation to ability to perform or contribute to society." He also pointed to Title VII to show progress in this country.
  • Kahn v. Shevin

    Kahn v. Shevin
    Plantiff sued Florida about a tax exemption available to widows but not widowers saying it violated the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. The court upheld the tax exemption saying that goal was to provide relief to women after the death of their husbands. Court argued that women face more financial dificulties than men therefore need a tax exemption. Justice Blackmun dissented saying gender classifications utilized negative stereotypes of women as dependent upon men.
  • Stanton v. Stanton

    Stanton v. Stanton
    State statute requiring parental support longer for men than women. The court ruled this unconstitutional based on Reed vs Reed precedent. In his opinion, Justice Blackmun said "No longer is the female destined solely for the home and the rearing of the family, and only the male for the marketplace and the world of ideas... Women's activities and responsiblities are increasing and expanding".
  • Craig v. Boren

    Craig v. Boren
    Oklahoma statute establishing different drinking ages for men and women is unconstitutional under the 14th amendment. The statute is arbitrary and like Stanton vs. Stanton implies women reach adulthood before men and therefore should be looking to marry younger while men are not considered matured until later after they have received higher education.
  • Orr v. Orr

    Orr v. Orr
    Struck down Alabama statute that required husbands but not wives to pay alimony upon divorce. The court struck down the statute because under the 14th amendment “states cannot be permitted to classify on the basis of sex”. Not only do we see a change in the interpretation of the 14th amendment we also see the strengthening of the federal government over state government. In previous cases, the court gave power to states but as time passes the court overpowers state laws.
  • Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts vs. Feeney

    Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts vs. Feeney
    MA law gave hiring preferences to veterans applying for state civil service positions. The vast majority of these veterans are men. Court said this did not violate the 14th amendment because the law was made to serve “legitimate and worthy purposes not to discriminate based on sex”. Women veterans would have had hiring preferences there are just not as many female veterans as male therefore most positions were being given to men.
  • Michael M. v. Superior Court of Sonoma County

    Michael M. v. Superior Court of Sonoma County
    Plantiff challenged the constiutionally of California'a law that only men are criminally liable for statutory rape on the basis of gender discrimination. The court held that the law did not violate the Equal Protection Clause because "young men and young women are not similarly situated with respect to the problems and the risks of sexual intercourse" . This decision holds on to the stereotype that men are the pursuers of sex and women's only role is whether to give consent.
  • Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur

    Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur
    Supreme Court invadiates rule requiring public school classroom teachers to take an unpaid maternity leave saying that it violated the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment. The state could not compromise her rights to a family life by presuming she is unable to work. By allowing pregnant women to work, it allows women to have both a career and family.
  • Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins

    Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins
    Hopkins sued Price Waterhouse under Title Vii of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 saying firm had discriminated based on sex in its decisions regarding partnership, Suprme Court agreed. This case established gender stereotyping as sex discriminateion under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. It also established mixed motive framework.
  • UAW v. Johnson Controls, Inc

    UAW v. Johnson Controls, Inc
    The Supreme Court shot down an employer gender based fetal protection policy saying it violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. An employer cannot exclude female employees from certain jobs because she may be pregnant in the future. The plan discriminated against women by not requiring male employees to demonstrate proof of sterility, despite that this work also caused problems to male productive systems.
  • Ezold v. Wolf, Block, Schorr, & Solis-Cohen

    Ezold v. Wolf, Block, Schorr, & Solis-Cohen
    The plantiff claimed she was not promoted to partnership at a law firm because she was a woman which violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The law firm claimed she was not promoted because she lacked the qualifications. The trial court agreed with the plantiff , but the Court of Appeals concluded there was not enough evidence to prove she was discriminated against because of her sex and ruled in favor of the law firm.
  • Harris v. Forklift Systems

    Harris v. Forklift Systems
    Harris quit Forklift after being insulted because of her gender and being the target of unwanted sexual innuendos from her boss. She sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act saying the harrassment created a "hostile work environment". The employer said comments did not cause real harm or damage. Justice O' Connor in her opinion said as long as the defendant perceived the behavior as hostile it still violates Titile Vii even though it wasn't "psychologically injurious".
  • J.E.B. v. Alabama

    J.E.B. v. Alabama
    A jury found for T.B. In forming the jury found Alabama used its peremptory strikes to eliminate nine of the ten men who were in the jury pool; J.E.B. use a peremptory challenge to strike a tenth man in the pool. Female jurors were being removed from the jury which the court found was "intentiional discrimination on the basis of gender" which violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment. This discrimination perpetuated stereotypes about the abilities of men and women.
  • United States v. Virginia

    United States v. Virginia
    Supreme Court held that it was against the 14th amendment's equal protection clause for Virginia Military Institute(VMI) to exclude women, even though a parallel program was set up for women. It was argued that single sex institutes reinforce stereotypes between boys and girls. If a girl is able to keep up with what is expected at VMI she should be able to enroll.
  • In the Matter of Alison P. v. Virginia M

    In the Matter of Alison P. v. Virginia M
    Two women agreed to share jointly all rights to a child that the respondent had by insemination. After the split, the other mother seeked visitation rights with the child. She was denied because "she is not a parent within the meaning of NY law" where only the mother and faher have a right to the child. The issue hasn't been brought to the Supreme Court, but could be seen as sex discrimination because the partner is being discriminated against because she is not a typical mother.
  • Rene v. MGM Grand Hotel, Inc.

    Rene v. MGM Grand Hotel, Inc.
    Rene, a gay man sued the hotel for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act saying his employees created a hostile work environment which included physical conduct. He stated he was discriminated against because he was a gay male. The Circuit Judge agreed that Title VII protects same sex offensives as well because it prohibits "physical conduct of a sexual nature" regardless of the sexes involved. An important step in using Title VII to protect discrimation because of sexual oriention.
  • Kantaras v. Kantaras

    Kantaras v. Kantaras
    In this case Michael Kantaras, a transexual man, Michael filed for divorce and custody over their two children. The wife said the marriage was invalid because Michael was originally a woman. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed with the wife. While the 14th amendment wasn't brought up, it is a perfect example of sex discrimination that should be protected by the 14th amendment because Michael was discriminated against for not being the socially accepted idea of what a man is.
  • Jesperson v. Harrah's Operating Company, Inc.

    Jesperson v. Harrah's Operating Company, Inc.
    Jesperson filed a lawsuit against Harrah's "Personal Best" policy after they required women to wear substantial amounts of makeup arguing that it violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The district court ruled in favor of Harrah's because they said the policy placed the same burden on men and women. In the dissenting opinion, Circuit Judge Pregerson said "The message is women's undoctored faces compare unfavorably to mens.. because of cultural assumptions and gender based stereotyping".
  • Witt v. Department of the Air Force

    Witt v. Department of the Air Force
    Previously under Don't Ask, Don't Tell(DADT) military authorities may exclude or discharge service members if they came out as homosexual. U.S. Court of Appeals concluded that heightened scrutiny is necessary for the government to discriminate. Although the Equal Protection Clause is not explicit when it comes to discrimination because of sexual orientation, it has been argued that discrimination based on gender should include sexual orientation.
  • Schroer v. Billington

    Schroer v. Billington
    Diana Schroer is a male to female transexual, after being offered a job at the Library of Congress it was revoked after they found out she would be in process of becoming a woman. Schroer says that the decision not to call her is sex discrimination banned by Title VII since she didn't conform to sex stereotypes. The Court agreed saying they revoked her job offer after hearing she would be a woman was discriminating against her "because of sex." They would hire her as a man but not a woman.