As I sit at my computer, I am contemplating the turmoil our nation is in right now. The national election is six weeks away. The entire west coast has had massive wildfires, and COVID-19 is still very much a presence in our lives. And finally, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, died from cancer. Justice Ginsburg’s work as a lawyer often challenged sex-based discriminatory laws for both men and women in the United States.
- In 1971, Ginsburg wrote a brief for the case Reed v. Reed. This case challenged an Idaho law requiring probate courts to appoint men to administer estates, even if a qualified woman could perform that task.
- In 1973, she first appeared before the Supreme Court on behalf of Air Force Lt. Sharron Frontiero. Federal law required Frontiero to prove that her husband, Joseph, depended on her for at least half his economic support to qualify for housing, medical and dental benefits. Had Lt. Frontiero’s husband been the solider, the couple would have automatically qualified for those benefits.
- In 1975, Ginsburg represented widower Stephen Wiesenfeld in challenging a Social Security Act provision that provided parental benefits only to widows with minor children. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that sex-based distinction unconstitutional.
- Ginsburg also wrote an influential brief in Craig v. Boren. This 1976 case established the current standard for evaluating the constitutionality of sex-based laws.
Justice Ginsburg’s legacy has far-reaching implications for gender equity, part of AAUW’s core mission. May her legacy continue to inspire many.
Now it is time to go on to more practical matters of our branch. Our October meeting is the second time we will have had the opportunity to collaborate with AAUW Citrus Heights American River (also known as CHAR). We will be co-hosting a webinar presentation by students from McGeorge Law School on October 14 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The law students will be providing the pros and cons of 13 ballot initiatives. Please invite a friend and register for free on Eventbrite .
As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions, concerns, or ideas.
AAUW Sacramento President