Women's Rights and the American Constitutional System, 4 Poly Law Review 43 (1979

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Poly Law Review


united states, constitution, women, rights, equal rights amendment


In this brief historical survey of discrimination against women in the United States, the author will trace the more important developments in the constitutional and statutory patterns The U.S. Supreme Court continues to play a key part in these developments, both in legitimising broad congressional statutes prescribing sex discrimination, and in subjecting to increased scrutiny, government action imposing gender classifications. It will be the institution - along with the Congress - that will translate and construe the Equal Rights Amendment's (this amendment has not yet passed) sweeping mandate that "(e)quality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex ..." . It is the author's view that the Court should hold legislation grounded upon gender distinctions as suspect, instead of automatically void. The former approach would still impose a weighty burden upon the Government to establish a compelling justification for the legislation and no narrower alternative. Not only would that approach be consistent with the Amendment's language and legislative history; it also would better accommodate the diverse role aspirations and cultures within changing America than would an absolutist approach.





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