1975 March 19

Supreme Court Strikes Down Sex Discrimination in Social Security Benefits


The Supreme Court on this day struck down a major sex discrimination practice in the U.S. Social Security. The 1935 law creating the Social Security system allowed widows but not widowers to collect special benefits for the care of minor children. The Court in Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld ruled unanimously that the policy was an unconstitutional form of sex discrimination.

The case was brought by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. Ginsburg had also played a significant role in the breakthrough women’s rights cases before the Court: Reed v. Reed (November 22, 1971) and Frontiero v. Richardson (May 14, 1973). For details on Ginsburg’s role in these cases, read Sisters in Law (see below).

For her pioneering work as Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, Ginsburg has been called the “Thurgood Marshall of women’s rights.”

President Bill Clinton appointed Ginsburg to the Supreme Court on June 14, 1993.

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 the history of women’s rights: https://www.aclu.org/womens-rights/aclu-history-protecting-womens-equality

Read about the history of the ACLU: Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990)


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