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In 1961 the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Earl Warren, unanimously upheld the constitutionality of a jury selection system that discriminated against women on the grounds that “women are at the center of home and family life.” The observation reflected dominant social values at the time, but the Court was unable then to see how such values thwarted the promise of equality for women implicit in the Constitution.

A decade later, the newly established ACLU Women’s Rights Project took the case of Reed v. Reed to the Supreme Court, challenging the automatic preference of men over women as administrators of estates. Congress had already passed statutes such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, barring some forms of sex discrimination, and the women’s movement had become recognized as a major political force. In Reed, the Supreme Court saw sex discrimination in a new light, and agreed with the ACLU. For the first time, the Court held that a classification based on sex was unconstitutional, in violation of the equal protection clause.  Read More    DONATE!

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