1973 May 14

Equal Protection for Women: “Frontiero v. Richardson”


Frontiero v. Richardson, decided on this day, was a landmark Supreme Court decision on sex discrimination. Sharron Frontiero was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force who applied for housing benefits for her husband, whom she claimed as a dependent. Under then-existing military policy, wives — but not husbands — were entitled to benefits as dependents. A majority of the Court declared the policy unconstitutional.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed an amicus brief for Frontiero for the ACLU. As Co-Founder and Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project at the time, Ginsburg was involved in almost all of the early women’s rights cases before the Court, including Reed v. Reed (November 22, 1971). On June 14, 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated Ginsburg to the Supreme Court. She assumed the role on August 10, 1993.

The Court:We therefore conclude that, by according differential treatment to male and female members of the uniformed services for the sole purpose of achieving administrative convenience, the challenged statutes violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment insofar as they require a female member to prove the dependency of her husband.”

Hear Ruth Bader Ginsburg argue the case before the Supreme Court: http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1972/1972_71_1694

Don’t miss: Linda Hirshman, Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World (2015)

Learn more about the ACLU and women’s rights: https://www.aclu.org/human-rights/womens-rights

Read: Gail Collins, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present (2009)

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!