Historic Supreme Court Cases

This is a sampling of some of the major Supreme Court cases that are frequently studied in law school

Sex Discrimination Cases

Craig v. Boren 429 U.S. 190 (1976) (W|L)

  • Male between the ages of 18 and 21, along with a licensed vendor of 3.2% beer, brought action for declaratory and injunctive relief against Oklahoma statutes prohibiting the sale of 3.2% beer to males under the age of 21 and females under the age of 18. A three-judge District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, 399 F.Supp. 1304, denied relief and plaintiffs appealed. The United States Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Brennan, held that the male plaintiff, who had attained the age of 21 after the Supreme Court had noted probable jurisdiction, did not have standing; that the vendor did have standing; that gender-based classifications must serve important governmental objectives and must be substantially related to the achievement of those objectives; that statistical evidence as to incidence of drunken driving among males and females between the ages of 18 and 21 was insufficient to support the gender-based discrimination arising from the statutes in question; and that the Twenty-First Amendment did not save the invidious gender-based discrimination from invalidation as a denial of equal protection.

Frontiero v. Richardson 411 U.S. 677 (1973) (W|L)

  • Suit was brought by a married woman air force officer and her husband against the Secretary of Defense seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against enforcement of federal statutes governing quarters' allowance and medical benefits for members of the uniformed services. The Three-Judge United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, 341 F.Supp. 201, denied relief, and plaintiffs appealed. Mr. Justice Brennan announced the judgment of the Supreme Court and delivered an opinion, in which Mr. Justice Douglas, Mr. Justice White and Mr. Justice Marshall joined, holding that classifications based upon sex are inherently suspect and must be subjected to strict judicial scrutiny, and that statutes providing, solely for administrative convenience, that spouses of male members of the uniformed services are dependents for purposes of obtaining increased quarters allowances and medical and dental benefits, but that spouses of female members are not dependents unless they are in fact dependent for over one-half of their support, violate due process clause of the Fifth Amendment insofar as they require a female member to prove dependency of her husband.

Heafey Law Library Research Team