1973 June 21

Help Wanted: Sex-Segregated Want Ads Unconstitutional


In the case of Pittsburgh Press v. Pittsburgh Human Relations Commission, decided on this day, the Supreme Court held that sex-segregated employment want ads (e.g., “Men Wanted,” “Women Wanted”) could be prohibited by the Pittsburgh Human Relations Commission. The Court rejected the argument that the ban infringed on freedom of the press, and held that want ads were commercial speech that was not protected by the First Amendment’s Free Speech clause. Sex discrimination in employment was outlawed by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (July 2, 1964). President Lyndon Johnson issued Executive Order 11265, requiring affirmative action in employment, but omitted women (September 24, 1965). He added women with a new Executive Order, 11375, on October 13, 1967. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission, created by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, had a fierce debate beginning in 1965 over the issue of sex-segregated want ads.

Learn more about the struggle for women’s rights: Gail Collins, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present (2009) Learn more about the history of women’s rights and the ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/aclu-and-womens-rights-proud-history-continuing-struggle?redirect=womens-rights/aclu-and-womens-rights-proud-history-continuing-struggle

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