Sex Appeal
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Sex Appeal

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“Equal protection of the laws” was granted to all persons by the 14th Amendment in 1868. But for nearly a century after that, women had a hard time convincing the courts that they should be allowed to be jurors, lawyers, and bartenders, just the same as men. A then-lawyer at the ACLU named Ruth Bader Ginsburg set out to convince an all-male Supreme Court to take sex discrimination seriously with an unconventional strategy. She didn’t just bring cases where women were the victims of discrimination; she also brought cases where men were the victims. In this episode, we look at how a key battle for gender equality was won with frat boys and beer.

The key voices:

Carolyn Whitener, former owner of the Honk n’ Holler
Curtis Craig, appellant in Craig v. Boren
Fred Gilbert, lawyer who represented Craig in Craig v. Boren
Mary Hartnett, adjunct professor at Georgetown Law
Wendy Williams, professor emerita at Georgetown Law

The key cases:

1873: Bradwell v. The State
1948: Goesart v. Cleary
1961: Hoyt v. Florida
1971: Reed v. Reed
1973: Frontiero v. Richardson
1975: Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld
1976: Craig v. Boren
1996: United States v. Virginia

The key links:

ACLU Women’s Rights Project

My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with Mary Hartnett and Wendy Williams

Sisters in Law by Linda Hirshman

“What’s Wrong With ‘Equal Rights’ For Women” by Phyllis Schlafly

Special thanks to Stephen Wiesenfeld, Alison Keith, and Bob Darcy.

Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation.

Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell.
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Sex Appeal
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Sex Appeal
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