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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE FACT SHEET: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the ACLU For IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 14, 1993 While working with the national office of the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1970's, Ruth Bader Ginsburg developed a path-breaking legal strategy for advocating gender equality under law. This strategy involved bringing precedent-setting challenges to laws that treated men and women differently on the basis of sex. The goal throughout the approximately 20 cases that Ginsburg guided while with the ACLU was to bring the legal standards against sex-based discrimination to the point where they mirrored as closely as possible those used to prevent race-based discrimination. Ginsburg worked with the ACLU from 1971 through 1980. She first joined the union as the founding director of the ACLU's national Women's Rights Project and then joined the national Board and served as a General Counsel. Throughout the decade, her work with the ACLU was done on a volunteer basis; she was never a paid employee of the ACLU. In the decade after Reed v. Reed, the ACLU case that first found a law unconstitutional because it discriminated against women, Ginsburg and the ACLU's national Women's Rights Project succeeded in establishing heightened constitutional scrutiny over gender-based classifications embedded in federal, state and local laws, thereby consigning to the junk heap of history many sexually discriminatory laws and practices. Following is a list of the key cases that Judge Ginsburg worked on while with the ACLU: > Reed v. Reed (1971). Ginsburg authored the ACLU brief in a case challenging an Idaho law that instructed probate judges to automatically name male relatives as administrators of estates even when there were equally qualified female relatives. This case became the first in which the Supreme Court held a gender-based law unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. > Frontiero v. Richardson (1973). Through special leave of the Supreme Court, Ginsburg argued as a friend of the court the ACLU position that the military could not provide automatic benefits to servicemen while requiring women in the service to prove that they contributed the overwhelming majority of the family's financial support to receive the same benefits. The Supreme Court held that married women serving in the military were entitled to the same benefits as men, but failed by one vote to place sex-based discrimination on the same level of race-based discrimination. > In several cases involving Social Security benefits, Ginsburg successfully challenged a series of laws that assumed that all families were supported by men and accorded government benefits on that basis, thereby discriminating against women workers who the ACLU argued were entitled to benefits on the same basis for their families. These cases included Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld (1975) and Califano v. Goldfarb (1977). > In another series of cases, Ginsburg challenged various state laws that effectively served to keep women off juries. In its decisions, the Supreme Court ruled that a jury "of one's peers" must include women under the Sixth Amendment's rights to a impartial jury. These cases included Edwards v. Healy (1975), which was the companion case to Taylor v. Louisiana, and Duren v. Missouri (1979). > Craig v. Boren (1976). Ginsburg filed an influential ACLU friend-of-the-court brief that led the Court to overturn an Oklahoma law that treated men and women differently with respect to legal drinking ages. In this case, the Supreme Court announced its landmark decision to grant sex-based discrimination so-called "middle tier" or "heightened" scrutiny for the first time, thereby placing it on a level close to -- but not equal to -- race discrimination. --endit-- ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


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