Timeline of women's legal rights in the United States (other than voting)


Timeline of women's legal rights in the United States (other than voting) represents formal legal changes and reforms regarding women's rights in the United States. That includes actual law reforms as well as other formal changes, such as reforms through new interpretations of laws by precedents. For such things outside as well as in the United States, see Timeline of women's legal rights (other than voting). The right to vote is exempted from the timeline: for that right, see Timeline of women's suffrage in the United States. The timeline also excludes ideological changes and events within feminism and antifeminism: for that, see Timeline of feminism in the United States.

Before the 19th century


1600s
  • Massachusetts: A 17th-century law in Massachusetts announced that women would be subjected to the same treatment as witches if they lured men into marriage via the use of high-heeled shoes.[1]
1641
1662
  • Virginia colony: The Virginia colony passed a law incorporating the principle of partus sequitur ventrem, ruling that children of enslaved mothers would be born into slavery, regardless of their father's race or status.[3] This was in contradiction to English common law for English subjects, which based a child's status on that of the father.
1664
  • Maryland: Maryland declared that any Englishwoman who married a slave had to live as a slave of her husband’s master.[4]
1718
  • Province of Pennsylvania (now U.S. state of Pennsylvania): Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[5]

19th century


1820–1900
1821
  • Maine: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[5]
  • Connecticut: A law targeted apothecaries who sold "poisons" to women for purposes of inducing an abortion.
1829
  • New York: New York made post-quickening abortions a felony and pre-quickening abortions a misdemeanor.
1835
  • Arkansas: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[5]
  • Massachusetts: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[5]
  • Tennessee: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[5]
1839
1840
  • Maine: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[5]
1841
  • Maryland: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[5]
1842
  • New Hampshire: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[5]
1843
  • Kentucky: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[5]
1844
  • Maine: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Maine: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Massachusetts: Married Women granted separate economy.[8]
1845
  • New York: Married women granted patent rights.[5]
  • Florida: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[5]
1846
  • Alabama: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[5]
  • Kentucky: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[5]
  • Ohio: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[5]
  • Michigan: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[5]
1848
  • New York: Married Women's Property Act grant married women separate economy.[9]
  • Pennsylvania: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Rhode Island: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
1849
  • Alabama: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[5]
  • Connecticut: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[5]
  • Missouri: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[5]
  • South Carolina: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[5]

1850–1874

1850s
  • Illinois: When Illinois opened its first hospital for the mentally ill in 1851, the state legislature passed a law that within two years of its passage was amended to require a public hearing before a person could be committed against his or her will. There was one exception, however: a husband could have his wife committed without either a public hearing or her consent.
1850
  • California: Married Women's Property Act grant married women separate economy.[10]
  • Wisconsin: Married Women's Property Act grant married women separate economy.[10]
  • Oregon: Unmarried women are allowed to own land.[11]
  • Tennessee: Tennessee became the first state in the United States to explicitly outlaw wife beating.[12][13]
1852
  • New Jersey: Married women granted separate economy.[8]
  • Indiana: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[5]
  • Wisconsin: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[5]
1854
  • Massachusetts: Married women granted separate economy.[10]
1855
  • Michigan: Married women granted separate economy.[14]
1856
  • Connecticut: Married women granted patent rights.[5]
1857
  • Maine: Married women granted the right to control their own earnings.[8]
  • Oregon: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[5]
  • Oregon: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[5]
1859
  • Kansas: Married Women's Property Act granted married women separate economy.[10]
1860
  • New York: New York's Married Women's Property Act of 1860 passed.[15] Married women granted the right to control their own earnings.[8]
  • Maryland: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Maryland: Married women granted the right to control their earnings.[5]
  • Maryland: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Massachusetts: Married women granted trade licenses.[5]
1861
  • Illinois: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Ohio: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Illinois: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • Ohio: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
1862
  • New York: New York's Married Women's Property Act of 1860 was amended so that women lost equal guardianship of their children, and only had veto power over decisions on apprenticeship and the appointment of testamentary guardians. Also, the parts of the 1860 law that made husbands and wives equal in realty in cases of intestacy were overturned.[15]
1865
  • Louisiana: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[5]
1867
  • Illinois: In 1867, the State of Illinois passed a "Bill for the Protection of Personal Liberty" which guaranteed all people accused of insanity, including wives, had the right to a public hearing.[16]
  • Alabama: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • New Hampshire: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
1868
  • North Carolina: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Arkansas: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Kansas: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Kansas: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Kansas: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • South Carolina: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[5]
  • Georgia: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[5]
1869
  • Minnesota: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Georgia: Married women granted separate economy.[17]
  • South Carolina: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • South Carolina: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Tennessee: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Iowa: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • Illinois and Massachusetts: In 1869 legislation was passed in Illinois and Massachusetts allowing married women equal rights to property and custody of their children.[18]
1870
  • Wyoming Territory: Justice Howe of the Wyoming Territory saw fit to extend women the rights to sit on a jury in 1870.[19] This was put into action and women served on gender-mixed juries with men for the next year. The first woman to serve on a jury was Eliza Stewart Boyd.[20] But once Howe was replaced by his successor in 1871, women were no longer called upon to serve on juries. (1870, 1890–1892).
1871
  • Mississippi: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Mississippi: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Mississippi: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • Arizona: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Arizona: Married women granted trade license.[5]
1872
  • Pennsylvania: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • California: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Montana: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • California: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • California: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • Wisconsin: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
1873
  • Arkansas: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Kentucky: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • North Carolina: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • Kentucky: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Arkansas: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • Delaware: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • Iowa: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Nevada: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Iowa: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Nevada: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Nevada: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • The Comstock Law was a federal act passed by the United States Congress on March 3, 1873, as the Act for the "Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use". The Act criminalized usage of the U.S. Postal Service to send any of the following items:[21]
In places like Washington D.C., where the federal government had direct jurisdiction, the act also made it a misdemeanor, punishable by fine and imprisonment, to sell, give away, or have in possession any "obscene" publication.[21] Half of the states passed similar anti-obscenity statutes that also banned possession and sale of obscene materials, including contraceptives.[22]
The law was named after its chief proponent, Anthony Comstock. Due to his own personal enforcement of the law during its early days, Comstock received a commission from the postmaster general to serve as a special agent for the U.S. Postal Services.[21]
1874
  • Massachusetts: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • New Jersey: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • Rhode Island: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • New Jersey: Married women granted trade licenses.[5]
  • Colorado: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Illinois: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Minnesota: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Montana: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • Montana: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Colorado: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Colorado: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]

1875–1899

1875
  • The Page Act of 1875 (Sect. 141, 18 Stat. 477, 3 March 1875) was the first restrictive federal immigration law in the United States, and effectively prohibited the entry of Chinese women, marking the end of open borders.[24] The law technically barred immigrants considered "undesirable,"[25] defining this as a person from East Asia who was coming to the United States to be a forced laborer, any East Asian woman who would engage in prostitution, and all people considered to be convicts in their own country. Only the ban on female East Asian immigrants was effectively and heavily enforced, and it proved to be a barrier for all East Asian women trying to immigrate, especially Chinese women.[26] The Act was later repealed.
  • New Hampshire: Married women granted trade licenses.[5]
  • Wyoming: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Wyoming: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • Wyoming: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. (21 Wall.) 162 (1875), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that the Constitution did not grant anyone, and in this case specifically a female citizen of the state of Missouri, a right to vote even when a state law granted rights to vote to a certain class of citizens. The Supreme Court upheld state court decisions in Missouri, which had refused to register a woman as a lawful voter because that state's laws allowed only men to vote. The Minor v. Happersett ruling was based on an interpretation of the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court readily accepted that Minor was a citizen of the United States, but it held that the constitutionally protected privileges of citizenship did not include the right to vote. The Nineteenth Amendment, which became a part of the Constitution in 1920, effectively overruled Minor v. Happersett by prohibiting discrimination in voting rights based on sex.[27]
1877
  • Connecticut: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • Connecticut: Married women granted trade licenses.[5]
  • Dakota: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Dakota: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • Dakota: Married women granted trade license.[5]
1878
  • Virginia: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
1879
  • Indiana: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Indiana: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • California: "A person may not be disqualified from entering or pursuing a business, profession, vocation, or employment because of sex, race, creed, color, or national or ethnic origin." – California Constitution, Article I, §8 (1879).
  • A law was enacted allowing qualified female attorneys to practice in any federal court in the United States.[28]
1880
  • The case Miles v. United States, 103 U.S. 304 (1880) established that a second wife may testify as to her husband's bigamy, because their marriage is not de jure.
  • Oregon: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Oregon: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
1881
  • Vermont: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Vermont: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Nebraska: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Nebraska: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • Nebraska: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • Florida: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[5]
1882
  • Lindon v. First National Bank, 10 F. 894 (W.D. Pa. 1882), is one of the very earliest precedent-setting US federal court cases involving common law name change.[29] A woman who had changed her last name to one that was not her husband's original surname was trying to claim control over her inheritance. The court ruled in her favor. This set forth many things. By common law, one may lawfully change their name and be "known and recognized" by that new name. Also, one may enter into any kinds of contracts in their new adopted name. Contracts include employment (see Coppage v. Kansas 236 U.S. 1), and one can be recognized legally in court in their new name.
1883
  • Washington Territory: Women in the Washington Territory were granted jury service rights, but those rights were rescinded in 1887 due to a change in the territory's Supreme Court.[30][31]
1887
  • Washington Territory: Women’s jury service rights were rescinded in 1887 due to a change in the territory's Supreme Court.[30][31]
  • Idaho: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • Idaho: Married women granted trade license.[5]
  • The Edmunds–Tucker Act disincorporated both the LDS Church and the Perpetual Emigration Fund on the grounds that they fostered polygamy. The act prohibited the practice of polygamy and punished it with a fine of from $500 to $800 and imprisonment of up to five years. It dissolved the corporation of the church and directed the confiscation by the federal government of all church properties valued over a limit of $50,000. The act was enforced by the U.S. Marshal and a host of deputies.

The act: -Disincorporated the LDS Church and the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, with assets to be used for public schools in the Territory.[32]
-Required an anti-polygamy oath for prospective voters, jurors and public officials.
-Annulled territorial laws allowing illegitimate children to inherit.
-Required civil marriage licenses (to aid in the prosecution of polygamy).
-Abrogated the common law spousal privilege for polygamists, thus requiring wives to testify against their husbands.[33]
-Disenfranchised women (who had been enfranchised by the Territorial legislature in 1870).[34]
– Replaced local judges (including the previously powerful Probate Court judges) with federally appointed judges.
– Abolished the office of Territorial superintendent of district schools, granting the supreme court of the Territory of Utah the right to appoint a commissioner of schools. Also called for the prohibition of the use of sectarian books and for the collection of statistics of the number of so-called gentiles and Mormons attending and teaching in the schools.
[35] In 1890 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the seizure of Church property under the Edmunds–Tucker Act in Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States. The act was repealed in 1978.[36][37]

1889
  • State of Washington: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • State of Washington: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • State of Washington: Married women granted trade license.[5]
1890
  • The case Bassett v. United States, 137 U.S. 496 (1890) had a ruling that polygamous wives can be required to testify as they are not legally wives.
  • Wyoming: "In their inherent right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, all members of the human race are equal. Since equality in the enjoyment of natural and civil rights is only made sure through political equality, the laws of this state affecting the political rights and privileges of its citizens shall be without distinction of race, color, sex, or any circumstance or condition whatsoever other than the individual incompetency or unworthiness duly ascertained by a court of competent jurisdiction. The rights of citizens of the state of Wyoming to vote and hold office shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex. Both male and female citizens of this state shall equally enjoy all civil, political and religious rights and privileges." – Wyoming Constitution, Articles I and VI (1890).
1894
  • Louisiana: Married women granted trade license.[5]
1895
  • South Carolina: Separate economy allowed for married women.
  • Utah: Married women granted separate economy.[5]
  • State of Washington: Married women granted control over their earnings.[5]
  • State of Washington: Married women granted trade license.[5]
1896
  • Utah: "The rights of citizens of the State of Utah to vote and hold office shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex. Both male and female citizens of this State shall enjoy all civil, political and religious rights and privileges." – Utah Constitution, Article IV, §1 (1896).
1898
  • Utah: The Utah State Legislature granted women permission to serve on juries in 1898. Even though women were able to serve on juries starting in 1898, women were able to seek exemption from jury duty and they did not regularly serve on juries until the 1930s.[38][30]

20th century


1900–1939

1907
  • Section 3 of the Expatriation Act of 1907 provided for loss of citizenship by American women who married aliens.[39] Section 4 provided for retention of American citizenship by formerly alien women who had acquired citizenship by marriage to an American after the termination of their marriages. Women residing in the US would retain their American citizenship automatically if they did not explicitly renounce; women residing abroad would have the option to retain American citizenship by registration with a US.consul.[40] The aim of these provisions was to prevent cases of multiple nationality among women.[41]
1908
1910
  • The White-Slave Traffic Act, or the Mann Act, is a United States federal law, passed June 25, 1910 (ch. 395, 36 Stat. 825; codified as amended at 18 U.S.C. §§ 24212424). It is named after Congressman James Robert Mann of Illinois, and in its original form made it a felony to engage in interstate or foreign commerce transport of "any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose". In practice, its ambiguous language about "immorality" has resulted in its being used to criminalize even consensual sexual behavior between adults.[43] It was amended by Congress in 1978 and again in 1986.[44]
1912
  • Starting January 1, 1912, the Massachusetts government started to enforce a law that allowed women to work a maximum of 54 hours, rather than 56 hours. Ten days later, the women workers found out that pay had been reduced along with the cut in hours.[45] There was a strike about it in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and mill owners soon decided to settle the strike, giving workers in Lawrence and throughout New England raises of up to 20 percent.
1915
  • Section 3 of the Expatriation Act of 1907 provided for loss of citizenship by American women who married aliens.[39] The Supreme Court first considered the Expatriation Act of 1907 in the 1915 case MacKenzie v. Hare. The plaintiff, a suffragist named Ethel MacKenzie, was living in California, which since 1911 had extended the franchise to women. However, she had been denied voter registration by the respondent in his capacity as a Commissioner of the San Francisco Board of Election on the grounds of her marriage to a Scottish man.[41] MacKenzie contended that the Expatriation Act of 1907 "if intended to apply to her, is beyond the authority of Congress", as neither the Fourteenth Amendment nor any other part of the Constitution gave Congress the power to "denationalize a citizen without his concurrence". However, Justice Joseph McKenna, writing the majority opinion, stated that while "[i]t may be conceded that a change of citizenship cannot be arbitrarily imposed, that is, imposed without the concurrence of the citizen", but "[t]he law in controversy does not have that feature. It deals with a condition voluntarily entered into, with notice of the consequences." Justice James Clark McReynolds, in a concurring opinion, stated that the case should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.[46]
1918
  • Margaret Sanger was charged under the New York law against disseminating contraceptive information. On appeal, her conviction was reversed on the grounds that contraceptive devices could legally be promoted for the cure and prevention of disease.[47]
1921
  • The Promotion of the Welfare and Hygiene of Maternity and Infancy Act, more commonly known as the Sheppard–Towner Act, was a 1921 U.S. Act of Congress that provided federal funding for maternity and child care.[48] It was sponsored by Senator Morris Sheppard (D) of Texas and Representative Horace Mann Towner (R) of Iowa, and signed by President Warren G. Harding on November 23, 1921.[49] This showed the political and economic power of women's issues since the bill was passed due to pressure from the newly formed Women's Joint Congressional Committee. Before its passage, most of the expansion in public health programs occurred at the state and local levels. Many factors helped its passage including the environment of the Progressive Era.[50] Massachusetts, Connecticut and Illinois never participated in the program. Participation in the program varied depending on states. The Act was due for renewal in 1926, but was met with increased opposition.[50] Hence, Congress allowed the act's funding to lapse in 1929 after successful opposition by the American Medical Association, which saw the act as a socialist threat to its professional autonomy.[51] This opposition was in spite of the fact that the Pediatric Section of the AMA House of Delegates had endorsed the renewal of the act. The rebuking of the Pediatric Section by the full House of Delegates led to the members of the Pediatric Section establishing the American Academy of Pediatrics.[52] The Act was held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1922 but the Act continued to be in force until 1929.
1922
  • The Cable Act of 1922 (ch. 411, 42 Stat. 1021, "Married Women's Independent Nationality Act") was a United States federal law that reversed former immigration laws regarding marriage.(It is also known as the Married Women's Citizenship Act or the Women's Citizenship Act). Previously, a woman lost her United States citizenship if she married a foreign man, since she assumed the citizenship of her husband, a law that did not apply to United States citizen men who married foreign women. The law repealed sections 3 and 4 of the Expatriation Act of 1907.[53] However, the Cable Act of 1922 guaranteed independent female citizenship only to women who were married to an "alien eligible to naturalization."[54] At the time of the law's passage, Asian aliens were not considered to be racially eligible for US citizenship.[55][56] As such, the Cable Act only partially reversed previous policies and allowed women to retain their United States citizenship after marrying a foreigner who was not Asian. Thus, even after the Cable Act become effective, any woman who married an Asian alien lost her United States citizenship, just as under the previous law. The Cable Act also had other limitations: a woman could keep her United States citizenship after marrying a non-Asian alien if she stayed within the United States. However, if she married a foreigner and lived on foreign soil for two years, she could still lose her right to United States nationality.
1931
  • An amendment to the Cable Act allowed females to retain their citizenship even if they married an Asian.[57]
1936

1940–1969

1945
  • Illinois: In People ex rel. Rago v. Lipsky, 63 N.E.2d 642 (Ill. 1945), the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District did not allow a married woman to stay registered to vote under her birth name, due to "the long-established custom, policy and rule of the common law among English-speaking peoples whereby a woman's name is changed by marriage and her husband's surname becomes as a matter of law her surname."[59][60]
1946
  • North Carolina: A state constitutional amendment passed in North Carolina making women eligible to serve on a jury.[61]
1947
  • New Jersey: Wherever in this Constitution the term "person", "persons", "people" or any personal pronoun is used, the same shall be taken to include both sexes. – New Jersey Constitution, Article X, paragraph 4 (1947).
1948
  • Goesaert v. Cleary, 335 U.S. 464 (1948), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld a Michigan law which prohibited women from being licensed as a bartender in all cities having a population of 50,000 or more, unless their father or husband owned the establishment. Valentine Goesaert, the plaintiff in this case, challenged the law on the ground that it infringed on the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Speaking for the majority, Justice Felix Frankfurter affirmed the judgment of the Detroit, Michigan district court and upheld the constitutionality of the state law. The state argued that since the profession of bartending could potentially lead to moral and social problems for women, it was within the state's power to bar them from working as bartenders. Only when the owner of the bar was a sufficiently close relative to the women bartender could it be guaranteed that such immorality would not be present.
  • The Women's Armed Services Integration Act (Pub.L. 80–625, 62 Stat. 356, enacted June 12, 1948) is a United States law that enabled women to serve as permanent, regular members of the armed forces in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and the recently formed Air Force. However, Section 502 of the act limited service of women by excluding them from aircraft and vessels of the Navy that might engage in combat.
1955
  • Texas: It became legal for women to serve on juries in Texas.[62]
1959
  • California: In 1959 the Government Code Section 12947.5 (part of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, passed in California) declared in part, “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to permit an employee to wear pants on account of the sex of the employee”, with exceptions only for “requiring an employee to wear a costume while that employee is portraying a specific character or dramatic role” and when good cause is shown.[63] Thus, the standard California FEHA discrimination complaint form now includes an option for "denied the right to wear pants".[64]
1961
  • Hoyt v. Florida, 368 U.S. 57 (1961), was an appeal by Gwendolyn Hoyt, who had killed her husband and received a jail sentence for second degree murder. Although she had suffered mental and physical abuse in her marriage, and showed neurotic, if not psychotic, behavior, a six-man jury deliberated for just twenty-five minutes before finding her guilty.[65] They sentenced her to 30 years of hard labor. Hoyt claimed that her all-male jury led to discrimination and unfair circumstances during her trial. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice John Marshall Harlan II, Supreme Court of the United States held the Florida jury selection statute was not discriminatory.
  • Ohio: In State ex rel. Krupa v. Green, 177 N.E.2d 616 (Ohio 1961), the Ohio appellate court allowed a married woman to register to vote in her birth name which she had openly and solely used, and been well-known to use, before her marriage, and held that she could use that name as a candidate for public office.[66][59]
1963
The law provides (in part) that:
No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section [section 206 of title 29 of the United States Code] shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs[,] the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex [ . . . . ][68] For the first nine years of the EPA, the requirement of equal pay for equal work did not extend to persons employed in an executive, administrative or professional capacity, or as an outside salesperson. Therefore, the EPA exempted white-collar women from the protection of equal pay for equal work. In 1972, Congress enacted the Education Amendments of 1972, which amended the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to expand the coverage of the EPA to these employees, by excluding the EPA from the professional workers exemption of the FLSA.
1964
  • The decision in the 1964 case of People of California v. Hernandez by the California Supreme Court brought into question the validity of the rule that mistake as to the age of a female is no defense to a statutory rape charge.[69] The defendant was convicted of statutory rape, but the trial judge refused to allow the defendant to present evidence that the defendant had a good faith belief the female subject was of age as a defense to the charge. Defendant filed an appeal, with the sole issue being the question of whether defendant's intent and knowledge at the time of the commission of the crime mattered in determining criminal culpability. The California Supreme Court held that "a charge of statutory rape is defensible [where] criminal intent is lacking," overruling and disapproving prior decisional law holding to the contrary, particularly People v. Ratz (1896) 115 Cal. 132. The decision set off a flurry of discussion among academics on whether "the uniform rule in the United states [that] a mistake as to the age of a female is not a defense to the crime of statutory rape," was now dead letter.[70][71][72]
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, codified as Subchapter VI of Chapter 21 of title 42 of the United States Code, prohibits discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin (see 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2[73]). Title VII applies to and covers an employer "who has fifteen (15) or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year" as written in the Definitions section under 42 U.S.C. §2000e(b). Title VII also prohibits discrimination against an individual because of his or her association with another individual of a particular race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, such as by an interracial marriage.[74] The EEO Title VII has also been supplemented with legislation prohibiting pregnancy, age, and disability discrimination (See Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, Age Discrimination in Employment Act,[75] Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990).
In very narrowly defined situations, an employer is permitted to discriminate on the basis of a protected trait where the trait is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise. To prove the bona fide occupational qualifications defense, an employer must prove three elements: a direct relationship between the protected trait and the ability to perform the duties of the job, the BFOQ relates to the "essence" or "central mission of the employer's business", and there is no less-restrictive or reasonable alternative (United Automobile Workers v. Johnson Controls, Inc., 499 U.S. 187 (1991) 111 S.Ct. 1196). The Bona Fide Occupational Qualification exception is an extremely narrow exception to the general prohibition of discrimination based on protected traits (Dothard v. Rawlinson, 433 U.S. 321 (1977) 97 S.Ct. 2720). An employer or customer's preference for an individual of a particular religion is not sufficient to establish a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Kamehameha School – Bishop Estate, 990 F.2d 458 (9th Cir. 1993)). There are partial and whole exceptions to Title VII for four types of employers:
  • Federal government; (Comment: The proscriptions against employment discrimination under Title VII are now applicable to certain federal government offices under 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-16)
  • Federally recognized Native American tribes
  • Religious groups performing work connected to the group's activities, including associated education institutions;
  • Bona fide nonprofit private membership organizations.
  • The Bennett Amendment is a US labor law provision in the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, §703(h) passed to limit sex discrimination claims regarding pay to the rules in the Equal Pay Act of 1963. It says an employer can "differentiate upon the basis of sex" when it compensates employees "if such differentiation is authorized by" the Equal Pay Act.
1965
  • Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965),[76] is a landmark case in the United States in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Constitution protected a right to privacy. The case involved a Connecticut "Comstock law" that prohibited any person from using "any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception." By a vote of 7–2, the Supreme Court invalidated the law on the grounds that it violated the "right to marital privacy", establishing the basis for the right to privacy with respect to intimate practices. This and other cases view the right to privacy as a right to "protect[ion] from governmental intrusion."
Although the Bill of Rights does not explicitly mention "privacy", Justice William O. Douglas wrote for the majority that the right was to be found in the "penumbras" and "emanations" of other constitutional protections, such as the self-incrimination clause of the Fifth Amendment. Justice Arthur Goldberg wrote a concurring opinion in which he used the Ninth Amendment in support of the Supreme Court's ruling. Justice Arthur Goldberg and Justice John Marshall Harlan II wrote concurring opinions in which they argued that privacy is protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Justice Byron White also wrote a concurrence based on the due process clause.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) decided in 1965 that segregated job advertising—"Help Wanted Male" and "Help Wanted Female"—was permissible because it served "the convenience of readers".[77] Advocates for women's rights founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) in June 1966 out of frustration with the enforcement of the sex bias provisions of the Civil Rights Act and Executive Order 11375.[78]
1966
1967
  • Executive Order 11375, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 13, 1967, banned discrimination on the basis of sex in hiring and employment in both the United States federal workforce and on the part of government contractors.
  • President Johnson signs Public Law 90-130, lifting grade restrictions and strength limitations on women in the United States military. Among other things, Public Law 90-130 amended 10 USC, eliminating the 2% ceiling on enlisted women. It also allowed female officers to be promoted to Colonel and above.
  • Maryland: In Erie Exchange v. Lane, 246 Md. 55 (1967) the Maryland Court of Appeals held that a married woman can lawfully adopt an assumed name, even if it is not her birth name or the name of her lawful husband, without legal proceedings.[80]
  • Section 230.3 Abortion (Tentative draft 1959, Official draft 1962) of the American Law Institute (ALI) Model Penal Code (MPC) was used as a model for abortion law reform legislation enacted in 13 states from 1967 to 1972. It would legalize abortion to preserve the health (whether physical or mental) of the mother, as well as if the pregnancy is due to incest or rape, or if doctors agree that there is a significant risk that the child will be born with a serious mental or physical defect.
  • California, Colorado, Oregon, and North Carolina: Colorado became the first state to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape, incest, or in which pregnancy would lead to permanent physical disability of the woman, and similar laws were passed in California, Oregon, and North Carolina.
1968
  • King v. Smith, 392 U.S. 309 (1968), was a decision in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) could not be withheld because of the presence of a "substitute father" who visited a family on weekends.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission declared age restrictions on flight attendants’ employment to be illegal sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[81]
  • Georgia and Maryland: Georgia and Maryland reformed their abortion laws based on the American Law Institute (ALI) Model Penal Code (MPC).
  • Prince Georges County: In 1967 Kathryn Kusner applied for a jockey license through the Maryland Racing Commission but was denied because she was a woman.[82] However, in 1968 Judge Ernest A. Loveless of the Circuit Court of Prince Georges County ordered her to be granted the license.[83] Kusner thus became the first licensed female jockey in the United States.[82]
  • Texas: The Marital Property Act of 1967, which gave married women the same property rights as their husbands, went into effect on January 1, 1968.[84]
  • Mississippi: On June 15, 1968, a law making women eligible to serve on state court juries was signed by Gov. John Bell Williams. Mississippi was the last state in America to allow this.[85]
1969

1970–1999

1970
  • In 1970, Eleanor Holmes Norton represented 60 female employees of Newsweek who had filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Newsweek had a policy of only allowing men to be reporters.[86] The women won, and Newsweek agreed to allow women to be reporters.[86] The day the claim was filed, Newsweek's cover article was "Women in Revolt", covering the feminist movement; the article was written by a woman who had been hired on a freelance basis since there were no female reporters at the magazine.[87]
  • The Title X Family Planning Program, officially known as Public Law 91-572 or "Population Research and Voluntary Family Planning Programs", was enacted under President Richard Nixon in 1970 as part of the Public Health Service Act. Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. Title X is legally designed to prioritize the needs of low-income families or uninsured people (including those who are not eligible for Medicaid) who might not otherwise have access to these health care services. These services are provided to low-income and uninsured individuals at reduced or no cost.[88] Its overall purpose is to promote positive birth outcomes and healthy families by allowing individuals to decide the number and spacing of their children. The other health services provided in Title X-funded clinics are integral in achieving this objective.[89]
  • Congress removed references to contraception from federal anti-obscenity laws.[90]
  • Schultz v. Wheaton Glass Co., 421 F.2d 259 (3rd Cir. 1970) was a case heard before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 1970. It is an important case in studying the impact of the Bennett Amendment on Chapter VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, helping to define the limitations of equal pay for men and women.[91][92] In its rulings, the court determined that a job that is "substantially equal" in terms of what the job entails, although not necessarily in title or job description, is protected by the Equal Pay Act.[93] An employer who hires a woman to do the same job as a man but gives the job a new title in order to offer it a lesser pay is discriminating under that act.[93]
  • In Sprogis v. United Air Lines, Inc., a federal trial court ruled in a female flight attendant's favor on whether airline marriage bans were illegal under Title VII. The court found that neither sex nor marital status was a bona fide occupational qualification for the flight attendant occupation. The court's ruling was upheld upon appeal.[94][95]
  • Women were not allowed in New York's McSorley's Old Ale House until August 10, 1970, after National Organization for Women attorneys Faith Seidenberg and Karen DeCrow filed a discrimination case against the bar in District Court and won.[96] The two entered McSorley's in 1969, and were refused service, which was the basis for their lawsuit for discrimination. The case decision made the front page of The New York Times on June 26, 1970.[97] The suit, Seidenberg v. McSorleys' Old Ale House (1970, United States District Court, S. D. New York) established that, as a public place, the bar could not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.[98] The bar was then forced to admit women, but it did so "kicking and screaming."[99] With the ruling allowing women to be served, the bathroom became unisex. But it was not until sixteen years later that a ladies room was installed.[100]
  • Hawaii, New York, Alaska, Washington: Hawaii, New York, Alaska and Washington repealed their abortion laws. Specifically, Hawaii became the first state to legalize abortions on the request of the woman,[101] New York repealed its 1830 law and allowed abortions up to the 24th week of pregnancy, and Washington held a referendum on legalizing early pregnancy abortions, becoming the first state to legalize abortion through a vote of the people.[102]
  • South Carolina and Virginia: South Carolina and Virginia reformed their abortion laws based on the American Law Institute Model Penal Code.
  • Illinois: The equal protection of the laws shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex by the State or its units of local government and school districts.- Illinois Constitution, Article I, §18 (1970).
1971
  • Barring women from practicing law was prohibited in the U.S. in 1971.[103]
  • Pennsylvania: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania because of the sex of the individual. – Pennsylvania Constitution, Article I, § 28.
  • United States v. Vuitch, 402 U.S. 62 (1971) was a United States Supreme Court abortion rights case, which held that the District of Columbia's abortion law banning the practice except when necessary for the health or life of the woman was not unconstitutionally vague.
  • Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71 (1971), was an Equal Protection case in the United States in which the Supreme Court ruled that the administrators of estates cannot be named in a way that discriminates between sexes. The Supreme Court ruled for the first time in Reed v. Reed that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibited differential treatment based on sex.[104]
  • Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp., 400 U.S. 542 (1971), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer may not, in the absence of business necessity, refuse to hire women with pre-school-age children while hiring men with such children. It was the first sex discrimination case under Title VII to reach the Court.
  • Virginia: That no person shall be deprived of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law; that the General Assembly shall not pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts; and that the right to be free from any governmental discrimination upon the basis of religious conviction, race, color, sex, or national origin shall not be abridged, except that the mere separation of the sexes shall not be considered discrimination. – Virginia Constitution, Article I, §11 (1971).
1972
  • New York: The New York State Court of Appeals ruled that Bernice Gera could be a baseball umpire.[105]
  • Washington: Equality of rights and responsibility under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex. – Washington Constitution, ARTICLE XXXI, §1 (1972).
  • Alaska: No person is to be denied the enjoyment of any civil or political right because of race, color, creed, sex or national origin. The legislature shall implement this section. – Alaska Constitution, Article I, §3 (1972).
  • Title IX is a portion of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, Public Law No. 92‑318, 86 Stat. 235 (June 23, 1972), codified at 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681–1688, co-authored and introduced by Senator Birch Bayh; it was renamed the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in 2002, after its late House co-author and sponsor. It states (in part) that:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

  • For the first nine years of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the requirement of equal pay for equal work did not extend to persons employed in an executive, administrative or professional capacity, or as an outside salesperson. Therefore, the EPA exempted white-collar women from the protection of equal pay for equal work. The Education Amendments of 1972 amended the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to expand the coverage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to these employees, by excluding the EPA from the professional workers exemption of the FLSA.
  • Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972), was a United States Supreme Court case that established the right of unmarried people to possess contraception on the same basis as married couples. The Court struck down a Massachusetts law prohibiting the distribution of contraceptives to unmarried people for the purpose of preventing pregnancy, ruling that it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
  • The common law offence of being a common scold was extant in New Jersey until struck down in 1972 by Circuit Judge McCann who found it had been subsumed in the provisions of the Disorderly Conduct Act of 1898, was bad for vagueness and offended the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution for sex discrimination.
  • Under § 215 of the Social Security Act (42 USCS 415), old-age insurance benefits are computed on the basis of the wage earner's "average monthly wage" earned during their "benefit computation years," which are the "elapsed years" (reduced by five) during which their covered wages were highest. Under the pre-1972 version, the computation for old age insurance benefits was such that a woman obtained larger benefits than a man of the same age having the same earnings record. The 1972 amendment altered the formula for computing benefits so as to eliminate the previous distinction between men and women, but only as to men reaching the age of 62 in 1975 or later; it was not given retroactive application.
  • The 10th Circuit case Moritz v. Commissioner successfully challenged the denial of a dependent-care deduction to a single man who was a caretaker for his sick mother; the deduction had previously been limited to women, widowers, or divorced men.[106][107]
  • Maryland: In Stuart v. Board of Elections, 266 Md. 440, 446, on the question of whether a wife could register to vote in her birth name rather than her husband's last name, the Maryland Court of Appeals held, "[A] married woman's surname does not become that of her husband where, as here, she evidences a clear intent to consistently and nonfraudulently use her birth given name subsequent to her marriage."[80]
  • Florida: Florida reformed its abortion law based on the American Law Institute Model Penal Code.
  • Maryland: Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged or denied because of sex. – Maryland Constitution, Declaration of Rights, Article 46 (1972).
  • Texas: Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed, or national origin. This amendment is self-operative. – Texas Constitution, Article I, §3a (1972).
1973
  • Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), was a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court ruled 7–2 that a right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman's decision to have an abortion, but that this right must be balanced against the state's two legitimate interests in regulating abortions: protecting women's health and protecting the potentiality of human life.[108] Arguing that these state interests became stronger over the course of a pregnancy, the Court resolved this balancing test by tying state regulation of abortion to the third trimester of pregnancy.
  • Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179 (1973), was a decision of the United States Supreme Court overturning the abortion law of Georgia. The Supreme Court's decision was released on January 22, 1973, the same day as the decision in the better-known case of Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). Doe v. Bolton challenged Georgia's much more liberal abortion statute.
  • Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case[109] which decided that benefits given by the United States military to the family of service members cannot be given out differently because of sex.
  • Pittsburgh Press Co. v. Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations, 413 U.S. 376 (1973), was a 1973 decision of the United States Supreme Court which upheld an ordinance enacted in Pittsburgh that forbids sex-designated classified advertising for job opportunities, against a claim by the parent company of the Pittsburgh Press that the ordinance violated its First Amendment rights.
  • From 1973 on, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has followed the Helms Amendment ruling, banning use of U.S. government funds to provide abortion as a method of family planning anywhere in the world.[110]
  • The "Percy Amendment" of the Foreign Assistance Act required U.S. development assistance to integrate women into its programs, leading to USAID's creation of its Women in Development (WID) office in 1974.
  • Colorado: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the state of Colorado or any of its political subdivisions because of sex. – Colorado Constitution, Article II, §29 (1973).
  • Montana: Individual dignity. The dignity of the human being is inviolable. No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws. Neither the state nor any person, firm, corporation, or institution shall discriminate against any person in the exercise of his civil or political rights on account of race, color, sex, culture, social origin or condition, or political or religious ideas. – Montana Constitution, Article II, §4 (1973).
  • New Mexico: No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws. Equality of rights under law shall not be denied on account of the sex of any person. – New Mexico Constitution, Article II, §18 (1973).
  • California: In Rentzer v. Unemployment Ins. Appeals Bd. (1973), Gail Rentzer suffered from an ectopic pregnancy and was therefore unable to work. She was denied compensation by the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board because they did not recognize pregnancy or related medical complications as a disability. But after a lawsuit was filed, the California Court of Appeals found that because Gail had not had a normal pregnancy and her emergency surgery was performed to stop bleeding and save her life, her pregnancy was deemed worthy of disability benefits. This case allowed women with medical complications during pregnancy to be granted benefits and more protections, such as disability coverage for not just pregnancy, but also the amount of time it takes for recovery from complications.[111]
1974
  • Connecticut: No person shall be denied the equal protection of the law nor be subjected to segregation or discrimination in the exercise or enjoyment of his or her civil or political rights because of religion, race, color, ancestry, national origin or sex. – Connecticut Constitution, Article I, §20 (1974).
  • Geduldig v. Aiello, 417 U.S. 484 (1974), was an equal protection case in the United States in which the Supreme Court ruled on whether unfavorable treatment to pregnant women could count as sex discrimination. It held that the denial of insurance benefits for work loss resulting from a normal pregnancy did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. The California insurance program at issue did not exclude workers from eligibility based on sex but did exclude pregnancy from a list of compensable disabilities. The majority found that even though only women would be directly affected by the administrative decision, the classification of normal pregnancy as non-compensable was not a sex-based classification, and therefore the court would defer to the state so long as it could provide a rational basis for its categorization.
  • The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) is a United States law (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 1691 et seq.), enacted in 1974, that makes it unlawful for any creditor to discriminate against any applicant, with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age (provided the applicant has the capacity to contract);[112] to the fact that all or part of the applicant's income derives from a public assistance program; or to the fact that the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The law applies to any person who, in the ordinary course of business, regularly participates in a credit decision, including banks, retailers, bankcard companies, finance companies, and credit unions.
Failure to comply with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act's Regulation B can subject a financial institution to civil liability for actual and punitive damages in individual or class actions. Liability for punitive damages can be as much as $10,000 in individual actions and the lesser of $500,000 or 1% of the creditor's net worth in class actions.[113]
  • In Kahn v. Shevin the Supreme Court ruled that a Florida statute providing property tax exemptions only to widows does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.[114]
  • In Kaplowitz v. University of Chicago, 387 F.Supp. 42 (N.D.Ill.1974), the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled that a law school was not required to police the discriminatory practices of employers using its placement facilities. The court did find that the law school was an employment agency, but found that employment agencies are only obligated to refer potential employees without discrimination.[115][116]
  • The Women's Educational Equity Act (WEEA) of 1974 is one of the several landmark laws passed by the United States Congress outlining federal protections against the gender discrimination of women in education (educational equity). WEEA was enacted as Section 513 of P.L. 93-380. In 1984, Congress rewrote the WEEA legislation.
  • Sex was added as a protected characteristic to the Fair Housing Act in 1974.[117][118][119]
  • New Hampshire: All men have certain natural, essential, and inherent rights – among which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting, property; and, in a word, of seeking and obtaining happiness. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by this state on account of race, creed, color, sex or national origin. – New Hampshire Constitution, Part First, Article 2 (1974).
  • In the final week of December 1974, President Gerald Ford signed into law a bill that opened the Little League baseball program to girls.[120]
1975
  • Stanton v. Stanton, was a 421 U.S. 7 (1975) United States Supreme Court case which struck down Utah's definitions of adulthood as a violation of equal protection: females reached adulthood at 18; males at 21.[121]
  • Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 420 U.S. 636 (1975), was a decision by the United States Supreme Court, which unanimously held that the gender-based distinction under 42 U.S.C. § 402(g) of the Social Security Act of 1935—which permitted widows but not widowers to collect special benefits while caring for minor children—violated the right to equal protection secured by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522 (1975), was a significant Supreme Court of the United States case, which held women could not be excluded from a venire, or jury pool, on the basis of having to register for jury duty.
  • On February 19, 1975 the Texas Supreme Court's ruling in the case Jacobs v. Theimer made Texas the first state in America to declare a woman could sue her doctor for a wrongful birth.[122][123][124] That case involved Dortha Jean Jacobs (later Dortha Biggs), who caught rubella while pregnant and gave birth to Lesli, who was severely disabled.[124][122] Dortha and her husband sued her doctor, saying he did not diagnose the rubella or warn them how it would affect the pregnancy.[124]
  • Schlesinger v. Ballard, 419 U.S. 498 (1975), was a United States Supreme Court case that upheld a federal statute granting female Naval officers four more years of commissioned service before mandatory discharge than male Naval officers.[125] A federal statute granted female Naval officers fourteen years of commissioned service while allowing only nine years of commissioned service for male Naval officers before mandatory discharge. The Supreme Court held that the law passed intermediate scrutiny equal protection analysis because women, excluded from combat duty, had fewer opportunities for advancement in the military. The Court found the statute to directly compensate for the past statutory barriers to advancement.[126]
  • Joan Little became the first woman in United States history to be acquitted using the defense that she used deadly force to resist sexual assault.[127][128]
  • Tennessee: In Dunn v. Palermo, the Supreme Court of Tennessee held that "in this jurisdiction a woman, upon marriage, has a freedom of choice. She may elect to retain her own surname or she may adopt the surname of her husband. The choice is hers. We hold that a person's legal name is that given at birth, or as voluntarily changed by either spouse at the time of marriage, or as changed by affirmative acts as provided under the Constitution and laws of the State of Tennessee. So long as a person's name remains constant and consistent, and unless and until changed in the prescribed manner, and absent any fraudulent or legally impermissible intent, the State has no legitimate concern."[129]
  • Wisconsin: In Kruzel v. Podell (1975), the Supreme Court of Wisconsin decided that a woman upon marriage adopts the last name of her husband by customarily using that name after marriage, but also stated that no law required her to.[130]
  • Louisiana: No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws. No law shall discriminate against a person because of race or religious ideas, beliefs, or affiliations. No law shall arbitrarily, capriciously, or unreasonably discriminate against a person because of birth, age, sex, culture, physical condition, or political ideas or affiliations. – Louisiana Constitution, Article I, §3 (1975).
1976
  • In General Electric v. Gilbert the Supreme Court ruled that it was legal for employers to exclude pregnancy-related conditions from employee sickness and accident benefits plans.[131]
  • Massachusetts: All people are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin. – Massachusetts Constitution, Part 1, Article 1 (1976).
  • Bellotti v. Baird (1976), 428 U.S. 132 (1976), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld a Massachusetts law requiring parental consent to a minor's abortion, which provided that "if one or both of the [minor]'s parents refuse ... consent, consent may be obtained by order of a judge ... for good cause shown."[132] The decision was unanimous, and the opinion of the Court was written by Justice Blackmun. The law in question "permits a minor capable of giving informed consent to obtain a court order allowing abortion without parental consultation, and further permits even a minor incapable of giving informed consent to obtain an abortion order without parental consultation where it is shown that abortion would be in her best interests."[132]
  • Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190 (1976), was the first case in which a majority of the United States Supreme Court determined that statutory or administrative sex classifications were subject to intermediate scrutiny under Fourteenth Amendment's the Equal Protection Clause. The Court also acknowledged that parties economically affected by regulations may challenge them "by acting as advocates of the rights of third parties who seek access to their market or function." The case specifically concerned the fact that Oklahoma passed a statute prohibiting the sale of "nonintoxicating" 3.2% beer to males under the age of 21 but allowed females over the age of 18 to purchase it. The Court held that the gender classifications made by the Oklahoma statute were unconstitutional because the statistics relied on by the state were insufficient to show a substantial relationship between the statute and the benefits intended to stem from it.
  • Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52 (1976) is a United States Supreme Court case on abortion. The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of a Missouri statute regulating abortion. The Court upheld the right to have an abortion, declaring unconstitutional the statute's requirement of prior written consent from a parent (in the case of a minor) or a spouse (in the case of a married woman).[133]
  • In United States politics, the Hyde Amendment is a legislative provision barring the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortion unless the pregnancy arises from incest, rape, or to save the life of the mother.[134][135] The Hyde Amendment is not a permanent law, but rather is a "rider" that in various forms has been routinely attached to annual appropriations bills since 1976.[134] Legislation including the Hyde Amendment generally only restricts the use of funds allocated for the Department of Health and Human Services and primarily affects Medicaid.[134][135]
  • District of Columbia: The case Williams v. Saxbe of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia established sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination when sexual advances by a male supervisor towards a female employee, if proven, would be deemed an artificial barrier to employment placed before one gender and not another.
1977
  • Beal v. Doe, 432 U.S. 438 (1977), was a United States Supreme Court case that concerned the disbursement of federal funds in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania statute restricted federal funding to abortion clinics. The Supreme Court ruled states are not required to treat abortion in the same manner as potential motherhood. The opinion of the Court left the central holding of the Roe v. Wade decision  abortion as a right  intact. The statute was upheld, with Justice Powell writing the majority opinion.
  • Califano v. Webster, 430 U.S. 313 (1977) was a decision by the United States Supreme Court, which held that Section 215 of the Social Security Act does not violate due process by allowing women to calculate retirement benefits without including additional low-earning years, since it is an attempt to compensate for previous discrimination.
  • Califano v. Goldfarb, 430 U.S. 199 (1977), was a decision by the United States Supreme Court, which held that the different treatment of men and women mandated by 42 U.S.C. § 402(f)(1)(D) constituted invidious discrimination against female wage earners by affording them less protection for their surviving spouses than is provided to male employees, and therefore violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • Dothard v. Rawlinson, 433 U.S. 321 (1977), was the first United States Supreme Court case which the bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ) defense was used. The court held that Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer may not, in the absence of business necessity, set height and weight restrictions which have a disproportionately adverse effect on one gender. However, on the issue of whether women could fill close contact jobs in all male maximum security prisons the Court ruled 6–3 that the BFOQ defense was legitimate in this case. The reason for this finding is that female prison guards were more vulnerable to male sexual attack than male prison guards.[136]
  • Carey v. Population Services International, 431 U.S. 678 (1977), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that it was unconstitutional to prohibit anyone other than a licensed pharmacist to distribute nonprescription contraceptives to persons 16 years of age or over, to prohibit the distribution of nonprescription contraceptives by any adult to minors under 16 years of age, and to prohibit anyone, including licensed pharmacists, to advertise or display contraceptives.
  • In 1977, the National Partnership for Women & Families litigated and achieved a significant victory in Barnes v. Costle, a U.S. Court of Appeals decision that held that any retaliation by a boss against an employee for rejecting sexual advances violates Title VII's prohibition against sex discrimination.[137]
  • The January 7, 1977 Supreme Court ruling in State of Washington v. Wanrow was an important victory for the feminist cause of gender-equality before the law. In a landmark ruling, the Washington Supreme Court, sitting en banc, declared that Yvonne Wanrow was entitled to have a jury consider her actions in the light of her "perceptions of the situation, including those perceptions which were the product of our nation's long and unfortunate history of sex discrimination."[138] The ruling was the first in America recognizing the particular legal problems of women who defend themselves or their children from male attackers, and was again affirmed by the Washington Supreme Court in denying the prosecutor's petition for rehearing in 1979.[138][139] Before the Wanrow decision, standard jury instructions asked what a "reasonably prudent man" would have done, even if the accused was a woman; the Wanrow decision set a precedent that when a woman is tried in a criminal trial the juries should ask "what a reasonably prudent woman similarly situated would have done."[140]
  • In Coker v. Georgia, 433 U.S. 584 (1977), the Supreme Court held that the death penalty for rape of an adult woman was grossly disproportionate and excessive punishment, and therefore unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[141]
1978
  • Hawaii: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the State on account of sex. The legislature shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this section. – Hawaii Constitution, Article I, §3 (1978).
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 is a United States federal statute. It amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to "prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy."[142] The Act covers discrimination "on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions." It only applies to employers with 15 or more employees.[143][144] Employers are exempt from providing medical coverage for elective abortions – except in the case that the mother's life is threatened – but are required to provide disability and sick leave for women who are recovering from an abortion.[145]
  • Judge John Sirica ruled the law banning Navy women from ships to be unconstitutional in the case Owens v. Brown. That same year, Congress approved a change to Title 10 USC Section 6015 to permit the Navy to assign women to fill sea duty billets on support and noncombatant ships.[146]
  • The Mann Act originally made it a felony to engage in interstate or foreign commerce transport of "any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose". In 1978, Congress updated the Mann Act's definition of "transportation" and added protections against commercial sexual exploitation for minors.
  • The federal lawsuit, Melissa Ludtke and Time, Inc., Plaintiffs, v. Bowie Kuhn, Commissioner of Baseball et al. (1978) is credited with giving equal access to Major League Baseball locker rooms to women sports reporters.[147][148] In 1977, Ludtke sued the baseball commission on the basis that her 14th amendment rights were violated when she was denied access to the New York Yankees clubhouse while reporting on the 1977 World Series.[149][150] She won the lawsuit.[151][152] The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York stated her fourteenth amendment right was violated since the New York Yankees clubhouse was controlled by New York City. That court also stated that her fundamental right to pursue a career was violated based on her sex.[153]
  • The 1890 Edmunds-Tucker Act is repealed. The Edmunds–Tucker Act disincorporated both the LDS Church and the Perpetual Emigration Fund on the grounds that they fostered polygamy. The act prohibited the practice of polygamy and punished it with a fine of from $500 to $800 and imprisonment of up to five years. It dissolved the corporation of the church and directed the confiscation by the federal government of all church properties valued over a limit of $50,000. The act was enforced by the U.S. Marshal and a host of deputies.

The act: -Disincorporated the LDS Church and the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, with assets to be used for public schools in the Territory.[32]
-Required an anti-polygamy oath for prospective voters, jurors and public officials.
-Annulled territorial laws allowing illegitimate children to inherit.
-Required civil marriage licenses (to aid in the prosecution of polygamy).
-Abrogated the common law spousal privilege for polygamists, thus requiring wives to testify against their husbands.[33]
-Disenfranchised women (who had been enfranchised by the Territorial legislature in 1870).[34]
– Replaced local judges (including the previously powerful Probate Court judges) with federally appointed judges.
– Abolished the office of Territorial superintendent of district schools, granting the supreme court of the Territory of Utah the right to appoint a commissioner of schools. Also called for the prohibition of the use of sectarian books and for the collection of statistics of the number of so-called gentiles and Mormons attending and teaching in the schools.
[35] In 1890 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the seizure of Church property under the Edmunds–Tucker Act in Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States. The act was repealed in 1978.[36][37]

1979
  • Bellotti v. Baird (1979), 443 U.S. 622 (1979) was a United States Supreme Court case that ruled that teenagers do not have to secure parental consent to obtain an abortion. The Court, 8-1, elaborates on its parental consent decision of 1976. It implies that states may be able to require a pregnant, unmarried minor to obtain parental consent to an abortion so long as the state law provides an alternative procedure to parental approval, such as letting the minor seek a state judge's approval instead. This plurality opinion declined to fully extend the right to seek and obtain an abortion, granted to adult women in Roe v. Wade, to minors.[154] The Court rejected this extension to minors by placing emphasis on the especially vulnerable nature of children, their "inability to make critical decisions in an informed and mature manner; and the importance of the parental role in child rearing."[154][155]
  • The Supreme Court ruled in Califano v. Westcott that two-parent families with unemployed mothers are entitled to AFDC benefits.
  • Colautti v. Franklin, 439 U.S. 379 (1979) was a United States Supreme Court abortion rights case, which held void for vagueness part of Pennsylvania's 1974 Abortion Control Act. The section in question was the following:

(a) Every person who performs or induces an abortion shall prior thereto have made a determination based on his experience, judgment or professional competence that the fetus is not viable, and if the determination is that the fetus is viable or if there is sufficient reason to believe that the fetus may be viable, shall exercise that degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the fetus which such person would be required to exercise in order to preserve the life and health of any fetus intended to be born and not aborted and the abortion technique employed shall be that which would provide the best opportunity for the fetus to be aborted alive so long as a different technique would not be necessary in order to preserve the life or health of the mother.

Doctors who failed to adhere to the provisions of this section were liable to civil and criminal prosecution "as would pertain to him had the fetus been a child who was intended to be born and not aborted." Franklin and others sued, arguing that the provision was both vague and overbroad. In a 6–3 decision written by Roe author Harry Blackmun, the Supreme Court agreed, finding that requiring a determination "if... the fetus is viable or if there is sufficient reason to believe the fetus may be viable" was insufficient and impermissibly vague guidance for physicians who might face criminal liability if a jury disagrees with their judgment.
The law was challenged as violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by a woman, who argued that the law discriminated on the basis of sex because so few women were veterans.[156]
  • Duren v. Missouri, 439 U.S. 357 (1979), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the exemption on request of women from jury service under Missouri law, resulting in an average of less than 15% women on jury venires in the forum county, violated the "fair-cross-section" requirement of the Sixth Amendment as made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth.
1980
1981
  • The full end of the legal subordination of a wife to her husband: Kirchberg v. Feenstra, 450 U.S. 455 (1981), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held a Louisiana Head and Master law, which gave sole control of marital property to the husband, unconstitutional.[165]
  • H. L. v. Matheson, 450 U.S. 398 (1981) was a United States Supreme Court abortion rights case, according to which a state may require a doctor to inform a teenaged girl's parents before performing an abortion or face criminal penalty.
  • Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57 (1981), was a decision of the United States Supreme Court holding that the practice of requiring only men to register for the draft was constitutional. After extensive hearings, floor debate and committee sessions on the matter, the United States Congress enacted the law, as it had previously been, to apply to men only. Several attorneys, including Robert L. Goldberg, subsequently challenged the gender distinction as unconstitutional. (The named defendant is Bernard D. Rostker, Director of the Selective Service System.) In a 6–3 decision, the Supreme Court held that this gender distinction was not a violation of the equal protection component of the due process clause, and that the Act would stand as passed.
  • Bundy v. Jackson, 641 F.2d 934 (C.A. D.C. 1981), was a D.C. Circuit opinion, written by Judge Skelly Wright, that held that workplace sexual harassment could constitute employment discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Michael M. v. Superior Court of Sonoma County, 450 U.S. 464 (1981), was a United States Supreme Court case over the issue of gender bias in statutory rape laws. The petitioner argued that the statutory rape law discriminated based on gender and was unconstitutional. The court ruled otherwise. Sexual intercourse entails a higher risk for women than men. Thus, the court found the law just in targeting men as the only possible perpetrators of statutory rape.[166]
  • The version of the Hyde Amendment in force from 1981 until 1993 prohibited the use of federal funds for abortions "except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term."[167]
  • The Supreme Court of the United States determined in County of Washington v. Gunther that the Bennett Amendment explicitly incorporated only limited defenses to unequal pay due to sex and did not otherwise bar suits based on a comparison of payment for different jobs. Nevertheless, it has continued to be used to bar comparable worth suits in lower courts.
1982
1983
  • City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 462 U.S. 416 (1983),[171] was a case in which the United States Supreme Court affirmed its abortion rights jurisprudence. The case, decided June 15, 1983, struck down an Ohio abortion law with several provisions.
  • After 139 years of existence as an all-male public high school, Central's all-male policy was challenged by Susan Vorchheimer, who wished to be admitted to Central. On August 7, 1975, U.S. District Court Judge Clarence C. Newcomer ruled that Central must admit academically qualified girls starting in the fall term of 1975. The decision was appealed, and the Third Circuit Court ruled that Central had the right to retain its present status.[172] The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court that, on April 19, 1977, upheld the Third Circuit Court's verdict by a 4 to 4 vote with one abstention.[173] That Supreme Court case was called Vorchheimer v. School Dist. of Philadelphia. However, in August 1983, Judge William M. Marutani of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, ruled that the single-sex admission policy was unconstitutional. The Board of Education voted not to appeal the legal decision, thereby admitting girls to Central High School. In September 1983, the first six girls, all seniors, were admitted.
  • Washington: Washington removed its marital exemptions for first-degree rape and second-degree rape in 1983.[174]
1984
  • The U.S. Supreme Court's 1984 ruling Grove City College v. Bell[175] held that Title IX applied only to those programs receiving direct federal aid.[176] The case reached the Supreme Court when Grove City College disagreed with the Department of Education's assertion that it was required to comply with Title IX. Grove City College was not a federally funded institution; however, they did accept students who were receiving Basic Educational Opportunity Grants through a Department of Education program.[175] The Department of Education's stance was that, because some of its students were receiving federal grants, the school was receiving federal assistance and Title IX applied to it. The Court decided that since Grove City College was only receiving federal funding through the grant program, only that program had to be in compliance. The ruling was a major victory for those opposed to Title IX, as it made many institutions' sports programs outside of the rule of Title IX and, thus, reduced the scope of Title IX.[177]
  • Roberts v. United States Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609 (1984), was an opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States overturning the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit's application of a Minnesota antidiscrimination law, which had permitted the United States Junior Chamber (Jaycees) to exclude women from full membership.
  • People v. Pointer[178] was a criminal law case from the California Court of Appeal, First District, which is significant because the trial judge included in his sentencing a prohibition on the defendant becoming pregnant during her period of probation. The appellate court held that such a prohibition was outside the bounds of a judge's sentencing authority. The case was remanded for resentencing to undo the overly broad prohibition against conception.
  • In Tallon v. Liberty Hose Co. No. 1 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1984) it was ruled that a volunteer fire department may be held liable under section 1983 for violating a plaintiff's constitutional rights.[179]
  • In Hishon v. King & Spaulding (1984) the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans discrimination by employers in the context of any contractual employer/employee relationship, including but not limited to law partnerships.[180]
  • New York: In the 1984 New York Court of Appeals case of People v. Liberta, judge Sol Wachtler stated that "a marriage license should not be viewed as a license for a husband to forcibly rape his wife with impunity. A married woman has the same right to control her own body as does an unmarried woman".[181]
1985
  • The "Mexico City Policy" came into effect, and it directed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to withhold USAID funds from NGOs that use non-USAID funds to engage in a wide range of activities, including providing advice, counseling, or information regarding abortion, or lobbying a foreign government to legalize or make abortion available.
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: American Booksellers Ass'n, Inc. v. Hudnut, 771 F.2d 323 (7th Cir. 1985),[182] aff'd mem., 475 U.S. 1001 (1986), was a 1985 court case that successfully challenged the constitutionality of the Antipornography Civil Rights Ordinance, as enacted in Indianapolis, Indiana the previous year. Judge Easterbrook, writing for the court, held that the ordinance's definition and prohibition of "pornography" was unconstitutional.[183] The ordinance did not refer to the prurient interest, as required of obscenity statutes by the Supreme Court in Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973).[184] Rather, the ordinance defined pornography by reference to its portrayal of women, which the court held was unconstitutional, as "the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message [or] its ideas."[185]
1986
  • The "Thurman Law" (aka the Family Violence Prevention and Response Act) instituted in Connecticut in 1986, made domestic violence an automatically arrestable offense, even if the victim did not wish to press charges.[186]
  • Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 476 U.S. 747 (1986) was a United States Supreme Court case involving a challenge to Pennsylvania's Abortion Control Act of 1982.[187] The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists sought an injunction to all enforcement of the Pennsylvania law. Although the law in question was similar to the one in City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, in Thornburgh the Reagan administration asked the justices to overrule Roe v. Wade. Justice Blackmun's opinion for the court rejected this position, reaffirming Roe.
  • Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986), marked the United States Supreme Court's recognition of certain forms of sexual harassment as a violation of Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII, and established the standards for analyzing whether conduct was unlawful and when an employer would be liable.
  • The Mann Act originally made it a felony to engage in interstate or foreign commerce transport of "any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose". In 1978, Congress updated the Mann Act's definition of "transportation" and added protections against commercial sexual exploitation for minors. In 1986 it was further amended to replace the ambiguous "debauchery" and "any other immoral purpose" with the more specific "any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense" as well as to make it gender-neutral.[188]
  • Alabama: In Alabama, the marital exemption from the rape law (Merton v. State (1986)[189]) was found unconstitutional.
  • District of Columbia: Women gained the right to go topless.[190]
  • Rhode Island: No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws. No otherwise qualified person shall, solely by reason of race, gender or handicap be subject to discrimination by the state, its agents or any person or entity doing business with the state. Nothing in this section shall be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the funding thereof. – Rhode Island Constitution, Article I, §2 (1986).
1987
  • California Federal S. & L. Assn. v. Guerra, 479 U.S. 272 (1987), was a United States Supreme Court case about whether a state may require employers to provide greater pregnancy benefits than required by federal law, as well as the ability to require pregnancy benefits to women without similar benefits to men. The court held that The California Fair Employment and Housing Act in 12945(b)(2), which requires employers to provide leave and reinstatement to employees disabled by pregnancy, is consistent with federal law.
  • In 1976, the Rotary Club of Duarte in Duarte, California, admitted three women as members. After the club refused to remove the women from membership, Rotary International revoked the club's charter in 1978. The Duarte club filed suit in the California courts, claiming that Rotary Clubs are business establishments subject to regulation under California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on race, gender, religion or ethnic origin. Rotary International then appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The United States Supreme Court, on 4 May 1987, confirmed the Californian decision supporting women, in the case Board of Directors, Rotary International v. Rotary Club of Duarte.[191] Rotary International then removed the gender requirements from its requirements for club charters, and most clubs in most countries have opted to include women as members of Rotary Clubs.[192][193]
  • Johnson v. Transportation Agency, 480 U.S. 616 (1987), is the only United States Supreme Court case to address a sex-based affirmative action plan in the employment context. The case was brought by Paul Johnson, a male Santa Clara Transportation Agency employee, who was passed over for a promotion in favor of Diane Joyce, a female employee who Johnson argued was less qualified. The Court found that the plan did not violate the protection against discrimination on the basis of sex in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII.[194]
1988
  • The Civil Rights Restoration Act was passed in 1988 which extended Title IX coverage to all programs of any educational institution that receives any federal assistance, both direct and indirect.[195]
  • Bellingham, Washington: A version of the Antipornography Civil Rights Ordinance was passed in Bellingham, Washington; however, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the city of Bellingham after the ordinance was passed, and the federal court struck the law down on First Amendment grounds.
  • H.R.5050 - Women's Business Ownership Act of 1988: The Women's Business Ownership Act was passed in 1988 with the help of the National Association Women Business Owners (NAWBO). The Act was created to address the needs of women in business by giving women entrepreneurs better recognition, additional resources, and by eliminating discriminatory lending practices by banks that favored male business owners over female. The bill was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. Among other things, it put an end to state laws that required women to have male relatives sign business loans.
1989
  • Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490 (1989), was a United States Supreme Court decision on July 3, 1989 upholding a Missouri law that imposed restrictions on the use of state funds, facilities, and employees in performing, assisting with, or counseling on abortions. The Supreme Court in Webster allowed for states to legislate in an area that had previously been thought to be forbidden under Roe v. Wade.
  • Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989), was an important decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of employer liability for sex discrimination. The Court held that the employer, the accounting firm Price Waterhouse, must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the decision regarding employment would have been the same if sex discrimination had not occurred. The accounting firm failed to prove that the same decision to postpone Ann Hopkins's promotion to partnership would have still been made in the absence of sex discrimination, and therefore, the employment decision constituted sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The significance of the Supreme Court's ruling was twofold. First, it established that gender stereotyping is actionable as sex discrimination. Second, it established the mixed-motive framework as an evidentiary framework for proving discrimination under a disparate treatment theory even when lawful reasons for the adverse employment action are also present.[196]
  • The first "Restroom Equity" Act in the United States was passed in California in 1989.[197] It was introduced by then-Senator Arthur Torres after several long waits for his wife to return from the bathroom.[197]
1990
  • Hodgson v. Minnesota, 497 U.S. 417 (1990), was a United States Supreme Court abortion rights case that dealt with whether a state law may require notification of both parents before a minor can obtain an abortion. The law in question provided a judicial alternative. The law was declared valid with the judicial bypass, but the ruling struck down the two-parent notification requirement.
1991
1992
  • Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992) was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in which the constitutionality of several Pennsylvania state statutory provisions regarding abortion were challenged. Notably, the case was a turn from the Roe v. Wade decision to tie an abortion's legality to the third trimester, associating the legal timeframe with fetal viability. In theory, its aim was to make the woman's decision more thoughtful and informed.[202] The Court's plurality opinion upheld the constitutional right to have an abortion while altering the standard for analyzing restrictions on that right. Applying its new standard of review, the Court upheld four regulations and invalidated the requirement of spousal notification.
  • In R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992), the United States Supreme Court overturned a statute prohibiting speech or symbolic expression that "arouses anger, alarm or resentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gender" on the grounds that, even if the specific statute was limited to fighting words, it was unconstitutionally content-based and viewpoint-based because of the limitation to race-/religion-/sex-based fighting words. The Court, however, made it repeatedly clear that the City could have pursued "any number" of other avenues, and reaffirmed the notion that "fighting words" could be properly regulated by municipal or state governments.
  • New York State: In 1986, seven women who picnicked topless were charged in Rochester, New York with baring "that portion of the breast which is below the top of the areola".[203] That law had originally been enacted to discourage 'topless' waitresses. The women were initially convicted, but on appeal two of the women's charges were reversed by the New York State Court of Appeals in 1992 on equal protection grounds in Santorelli's case.[204][205][206][190]
1993
Alexandria Women's Health Clinic reported that the protesters violated 42 U.S.C. 1985(3), which prohibits protests to deprive "any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws."[209]
  • The "Mexico City Policy", which directed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to withhold USAID funds from NGOs that use non-USAID funds to engage in a wide range of activities, including providing advice, counseling, or information regarding abortion, or lobbying a foreign government to legalize or make abortion available, was rescinded by President Clinton.
  • On October 22, 1993, President Clinton signed into law the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1994.[210] The Act contained a new version of the Hyde Amendment that expanded the category of abortions for which federal funds are available under Medicaid to include cases of rape and incest.[211]
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a United States federal law requiring covered employers to provide employees job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. Qualified medical and family reasons include: personal or family illness, family military leave, pregnancy, adoption, or the foster care placement of a child.[212]
  • By 1993, all states had either withdrawn exemptions used to legalize marital rape, with the last states to do so being Oklahoma and North Carolina[213] (both in 1993) or their exemption had been declared judicially to be unconstitutional.
  • Utah: In Beynon v. St. George-Dixie Lodge 1743 (1993),[214] the Utah Supreme Court ruled that while Freedom of Association allowed the Elks to remain a men-only organization, "the Elks may not avail itself of the benefits of a liquor license and the license's concomitant state regulation" as long as it violated the Utah State Civil Rights Act. Faced with losing their liquor licenses if they did not admit women, the Elks Lodges of Utah voted to become unisex in June 1993,[215] which was followed by a vote at the Elks National Convention in July 1995[216] to remove the word "male" from the national membership requirements.
1994
  • Madsen v. Women's Health Center, Inc., 512 U.S. 753 (1994), is a United States Supreme Court case where Petitioners challenged the constitutionality of an injunction entered by a Florida state court which prohibits antiabortion protesters from demonstrating in certain places and in various ways outside of a health clinic that performs abortions.[217] The Madsen majority sustained the constitutionality of the Clinic's thirty-six foot buffer zone and the noise-level provision, finding that they burdened no more speech than necessary to serve the injunction's goals. However, the Court struck down the thirty-six foot buffer zone as applied to the private property north and west of the Clinic, .the 'images observable' provision, the three hundred foot no-approach zone around the Clinic, and the three hundred foot buffer zone around residences. The Court found that these provisions " [swept] more broadly than necessary" to protect the state's interests. Thus, the judgment of the Florida Supreme Court was affirmed in part and reversed in part.[218]
  • The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 is a United States federal law (Title IV, sec. 40001-40703 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, H.R. 3355) signed as Pub.L. 103–322 by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994 (codified in part at 42 U.S.C. sections 13701 through 14040). The Act provides $1.6 billion toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allows civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave un-prosecuted. The Act also establishes the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice.
  • In 1994, the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, sponsored by congresswoman Cardiss Collins, required federally assisted higher education institutions to disclose information on roster sizes for men's and women's teams, as well as budgets for recruiting, scholarships, coaches' salaries, and other expenses, annually.[219]
  • J. E. B. v. Alabama ex rel. T. B., 511 U.S. 127 (1994), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that making peremptory challenges based solely on a prospective juror's sex is unconstitutional. J.E.B. extended the court's existing precedent in Batson v. Kentucky (1986), which found race-based peremptory challenges in criminal trials unconstitutional, and Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Company (1991), which extended that principle to civil trials. As in Batson, the court found that sex-based challenges violate the Equal Protection Clause.
  • The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE or the Access Act, Pub. L. No. 103-259, 108 Stat. 694) (May 26, 1994, 18 U.S.C. § 248) is a United States law that was signed by President Bill Clinton in May 1994, which prohibits the following three things: (1) the use of physical force, threat of physical force, or physical obstruction to intentionally injure, intimidate, interfere with or attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person who is obtaining reproductive health services or providing reproductive health services (this portion of the law typically refers to abortion clinics), (2) the use of physical force, threat of physical force, or physical obstruction to intentionally injure, intimidate, interfere with or attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person who is exercising or trying to exercise their First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship, (3) the intentional damage or destruction of a reproductive health care facility or a place of worship.[220][221]
1995
1996
  • Fauziya Kasinga, a 19-year-old member of the Tchamba-Kunsuntu tribe of Togo, was granted asylum in 1996 after leaving an arranged marriage to escape FGM; this set a precedent in U.S. immigration law because it was the first time FGM was accepted as a form of persecution.[223] In addition, this was the first situation in which asylum was granted based on gender.[224]
  • United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996), was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Virginia Military Institute (VMI)'s long-standing male-only admission policy in a 7–1 decision. (Justice Clarence Thomas, whose son was enrolled at VMI at the time, recused himself.)
  • The Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act of 1996 is a piece of legislation relating to the coverage of maternity by health insurance plans in the United States of America. It was signed into law on September 26, 1996 and requires plans that offer maternity coverage to pay for at least a 48-hour hospital stay following childbirth (96-hour stay in the case of a caesarean section).
  • California: The State shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting. – California Constitution, Article I, §31(a) (1996) (1996 California Proposition 209)
1997
1998
  • Iowa: All men and women are, by nature, free and equal and have certain inalienable rights—among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness. – Iowa Constitution, Article I, §1 (1998).
  • Florida: Basic rights. All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty, to pursue happiness, to be rewarded for industry, and to acquire, possess and protect property; except that the ownership, inheritance, disposition and possession of real property by aliens ineligible for citizenship may be regulated or prohibited by law. No person shall be deprived of any right because of race, religion, national origin, or physical disability. – Florida Constitution, Article I, §2 (1998).
  • Moscow, Idaho: Women in Moscow, Idaho gained the right to go topless.[190]
  • Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court identified the circumstances under which an employer may be held liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for the acts of a supervisory employee whose sexual harassment of subordinates has created a hostile work environment amounting to employment discrimination. The court held that "an employer is vicariously liable for actionable discrimination caused by a supervisor, but subject to an affirmative defense looking to the reasonableness of the employer's conduct as well as that of a plaintiff victim."
  • Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 US 742 (1998) is a landmark employment law case of the United States Supreme Court holding that employers are liable if supervisors create a hostile work environment for employees. Ellerth also introduced a two-part affirmative defense allowing employers to avoid sex discrimination liability if they follow best practices. Ellerth is often considered alongside Faragher v. City of Boca Raton.
  • Lois E. Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co. was the first class-action sexual harassment lawsuit in the United States. It was filed in 1988 on behalf of Lois Jenson and other female workers at the EVTAC mine in Eveleth, Minnesota on the state's northern Mesabi Range, which is part of the Iron Range. On December 23, 1998, just before the trial was set to begin, fifteen women settled with Eveleth Mines for a total of $3.5 million.
  • Miller v. Albright, 523 U.S. 420 (1998), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld the validity of laws relating to U.S. citizenship at birth for children born outside the United States, out of wedlock, to an American parent. The Court declined to overturn a more restrictive citizenship requirement applying to an illegitimate foreign-born child of an American father, as opposed to a child born to an American mother under similar circumstances.
  • In Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District, the Supreme Court ruled that in order for a party to recover sexual harassment damages under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, they must show that a school district official knew what was happening and was able to take measures to correct it if they wished, and that the educational establishment deliberately failed to respond properly. Since that was not what happened in this case, Lago Vista was not liable for sexual harassment damages.[234]
  • Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, 523 U.S. 75 (1998), was a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. The case arose out of a suit for sex discrimination by a male oil-rig worker, who claimed that he was repeatedly subjected to sexual harassment by his male co-workers with the acquiescence of his employer. The Court held that Title VII's protection against workplace discrimination "because of... sex" applied to harassment in the workplace between members of the same sex.
1999
  • A United States House of Representatives appropriations bill (HR 2490) that contained an amendment specifically permitting breastfeeding[235] was signed into law on September 29, 1999. It stipulated that no government funds may be used to enforce any prohibition on women breastfeeding their children in federal buildings or on federal property.
  • A federal law enacted in 1999 specifically provides that "a woman may breastfeed her child at any location in a federal building or on federal property, if the woman and her child are otherwise authorized to be present at the location."[236]
  • In Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that a school board can be held responsible under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for student-on-student sexual harassment.[237]

21st century


2000
2001
  • The "Mexico City Policy", which directed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to withhold USAID funds from NGOs that use non-USAID funds to engage in a wide range of activities, including providing advice, counseling, or information regarding abortion, or lobbying a foreign government to legalize or make abortion available, was reinstated by President George W. Bush, who implemented it through conditions in USAID grant awards, and subsequently extended the policy to "voluntary population planning" assistance provided by the Department of State.
  • Ferguson v. City of Charleston, 532 U.S. 67 (2001), is a United States Supreme Court decision that found Medical University of South Carolina's policy regarding involuntary drug testing of pregnant women to violate the Fourth Amendment. The Court held that the search in question was unreasonable.
  • Nguyen v. INS, 533 U.S. 53 (2001), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld the validity of laws relating to U.S. citizenship at birth for children born outside the United States, out of wedlock, to an American parent. The Court declined to overturn a more restrictive citizenship requirement applying to a foreign-born child of an American father and a non-American mother who was not married to the father, as opposed to a child born to an American mother under similar circumstances.[239][240]
2002
2003
2005
  • Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education, 544 U.S. 167 (2005), is a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that retaliation against a person because that person has complained of sex discrimination is a form of intentional sex discrimination encompassed by Title IX.
  • McCorvey v. Hill, 385 F.3d 846 (5th Cir. 2004), was a case in which the principal original litigant in Roe v. Wade,[247] (1973) Norma McCorvey, also known as 'Jane Roe', requested the overturning of Roe. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that McCorvey could not do this; the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari on February 22, 2005,[248] rendering the opinion of the Fifth Circuit final.
  • The lawsuit Eduardo Gonzalez, et al. v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., et al. (No. C03-2817), filed in June 2003, alleged that the nationwide retailer Abercrombie & Fitch "violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by maintaining recruiting and hiring practice that excluded minorities and women and adopting a restrictive marketing image, and other policies, which limited minority and female employment."[249][250] The female and Latino, African-American, and Asian American plaintiffs charged that they were either not hired despite strong qualifications or if hired "they were steered not to sales positions out front, but to low-visibility, back-of-the-store jobs, stocking and cleaning up."[251] In April 2005, the U.S. District Court approved a settlement, valued at approximately $50 million, which requires the retail clothing giant Abercrombie & Fitch to provide monetary benefits to the class of Latino, African American, Asian American and female applicants and employees who charged the company with discrimination.[251][252] The settlement, rendered as a Consent Decree, also requires the company to institute a range of policies and programs to promote diversity among its workforce and to prevent discrimination based on race or gender.[249][252] Implementation of the Consent Decree continued into 2011. Abercrombie did not admit liability.[251]
  • Castle Rock v. Gonzales, 545 U.S. 748 (2005), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled, 7–2, that a town and its police department could not be sued under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for failing to enforce a restraining order, which had led to the murder of a woman's three children by her estranged husband.
  • New York City: New York City Council passed a law in 2005 requiring all new establishments falling under the terms of the legislation to maintain roughly a two-to-one ratio of women's bathroom stalls to men's stalls and urinals. Existing establishments were required to come into compliance when they undergo extensive renovations, while restaurants, schools, hospitals, and municipal buildings were excluded.[253][254]
  • The U.S. Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (implemented in January 2007) prevented college health centers and many health care providers from participating in the drug pricing discount program, which formerly allowed contraceptives to be sold to students and women of low income in the United States at low cost.
  • Tennessee: Until 2005, when it was repealed, the law in Tennessee stated that a person could be guilty of the rape of a spouse at a time they are living together only if that person either "was armed with a weapon or any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead the alleged victim to reasonably believe it to be a weapon" or "caused serious bodily injury to the alleged victim". This meant that, in practice, most cases of marital rape could not be prosecuted, since few rapes involve such extreme circumstances. The law was finally repealed in 2005, allowing for marital rape to be treated like any other type of rape.[255][256][257]
2006
Darlene Jespersen was a 20-year employee at Harrah's Casino in Reno, Nevada. In 2000, Harrah's advanced a "Personal Best" policy, which created strict standards for employee appearance and grooming, which included a requirement that women wear substantial amounts of makeup. Jespersen was fired for non-compliance with its policy. Jespersen argued the makeup requirement was contrary to her self-image, and that the requirement violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[258][259]
In 2001, Jespersen filed a lawsuit in United States District Court for the District of Nevada, which found against her claim. The district court opined that the policy imposed "equal burdens" on both sexes and that the policy did not discriminate based on immutable characteristics of her sex. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision, but on rehearing en banc, reversed part of its decision. The full panel concluded, in contrast to the previous rulings, that such grooming requirements could be challenged as sex stereotyping in some cases, even in view of the decision in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins. However, the panel found that Jespersen had not provided evidence that the policy had been motivated by stereotyping, and affirmed the district court's finding for Harrah's.[260][261][262]
  • Khalid Adem, an Ethiopian American, was both the first person prosecuted and first person convicted for female genital mutilation (FGM) in the United States,[263][264] stemming from charges that he had personally excised his 2-year-old daughter's clitoris with a pair of scissors.[265][266][267]
  • On November 24, 2006, the Title IX regulations were amended to provide greater flexibility in the operation of single-sex classes or extracurricular activities at the primary or secondary school level.[268]
  • Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, 546 U.S. 320 (2006), was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States involving a facial challenge to New Hampshire's parental notification abortion law. The First Circuit had ruled that the law was unconstitutional and an injunction against its enforcement was proper. The Supreme Court vacated this judgment and remanded the case, but avoided a substantive ruling on the challenged law or a reconsideration of prior Supreme Court abortion precedent. Instead, the Court only addressed the issue of remedy, holding that invalidating a statute in its entirety "is not always necessary or justified, for lower courts may be able to render narrower declaratory and injunctive relief."
  • Governor Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana signed into law a ban on most forms of abortion (unless the life of the mother was in danger or her health would be permanently damaged) once it passed the state legislature. The bill would only go into effect if the United States Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade. Louisiana's measure would allow the prosecution of any person who performed or aided in an abortion. The penalties include up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000.[269]
  • In Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White, the standard for retaliation against a sexual harassment complainant was revised to include any adverse employment decision or treatment that would be likely to dissuade a "reasonable worker" from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.
  • Michigan: The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI), or Proposal 2 (Michigan 06-2), was a ballot initiative that passed into Michigan Constitutional law. MCRI was a citizen initiative aimed at stopping discrimination based on race, color, sex, or religion in admission to colleges, jobs, and other publicly funded institutions – effectively prohibiting affirmative action by public institutions based on those factors.[270] Its constitutionality was challenged in federal court, but its constitutionality was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States.[271]
2007
2008
  • Nebraska: (1) The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.[....] (3) Nothing in this section prohibits bona fide qualifications based on sex that are reasonably necessary to the normal operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting. – Nebraska Constitution, Article I, §30 (2008).
  • Maouloud Baby v. State of Maryland[279] (aka Maryland v. Baby) is a Maryland state court case relating to the ability to withdraw sexual consent.[280] The jury in the trial court convicted Baby of first degree rape and related charges, but the Court of Special Appeals, based upon a 1980 precedent that held that a rape could not legally occur if a woman withdrew consent after penetration,[281] reversed the conviction.[282] That precedent interpreted the English common law such that the withdrawal of consent following initial penetration did not make the act a rape. The court noted other states had noted that the act of intercourse is not completed at the initial penetration, and so consent could be withdrawn at any point during intercourse. For rape, the court noted that force or threat of force was a necessary element of the crime. Due to issues involving the instructions to the jury regarding rape and consent, the case was remanded for a new trial. In 2008, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Court of Special Appeals' reversal of the convictions and remand for re-trial, due to the trial court's error in failing to answer the jury's questions about whether a sex act continued after the withdrawal of consent could constitute rape if penetration had already occurred.[279] However, the court ruled that consent could be withdrawn at any time, even if the victim had initially consented.[283]
  • In 2008 the Federal Bureau of Prisons mandated that in all federal correctional facilities, "inmates in labor, delivery, or post-delivery recuperations shall not be placed in restraints unless there are reasonable grounds to believe the inmate presents an immediate serious threat of hurting herself or others, or there are reasonable grounds to believe the inmate presents an immediate and credible risk of escape."[284]
  • In April 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Second Chance Act into law, requiring all federal facilities to document and report "the use of physical restraints on pregnant female prisoners during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and post-delivery and justify the use of restraints with documented security concerns".[284]
2009
The bill also:
  • Removes the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally protected activity, like voting or going to school;
  • Gives federal authorities greater ability to engage in hate crimes investigations that local authorities choose not to pursue;
  • Provided $5 million per year in funding for fiscal years 2010 through 2012 to help state and local agencies pay for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes;
  • Requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track statistics on hate crimes based on gender and gender identity (statistics for the other groups were already tracked).[289][290]
  • Section 3A1.1 of the 2009 United States Sentencing Guidelines states that: "If the finder of fact at trial or, in the case of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, the court at sentencing determines beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally selected any victim or any property as the object of the offense of conviction because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person," the sentencing court is required to increase the standard sentencing range.[291]
2010
2011
  • Wal-Mart v. Dukes, 564 U.S. ___ (2011), was a United States Supreme Court case. The case was an appeal from the Ninth Circuit's decision in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in which the Supreme Court, by a 5–4 decision, reversed the district court's decision to certify a class action lawsuit in which the plaintiff class included 1.6 million women who currently work or have worked for Wal-Mart stores, including the lead plaintiff, Betty Dukes. Dukes, a current Wal-Mart employee, and others alleged gender discrimination in pay and promotion policies and practices in Wal-Mart stores.[301] The Court agreed to hear argument on whether Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, Rule 23(b)(2), which provides for class-actions if the defendant's actions make injunctive relief appropriate, can be used to file a class action that demands monetary damages. The Court also asked the parties to argue whether the class meets the traditional requirements of numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation.[302] The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the class should not be certified in its current form but was only 5-4 on the reason for that and whether the class could continue in a different form.
  • Arizona: Sex-selective abortions were banned in Arizona.
2012
  • Planned Parenthood v. Rounds (686 F.3d 889 (8th Cir. 2012) (en banc)) was a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit that upheld a provision of a South Dakota law that requires a doctor to inform a patient, prior to providing an abortion, that one of the "known medical risks of the procedure and statistically significant risk factors" is an "increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide."
  • A provision of the Provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, effective August 1, 2012, states that all new health insurance plans must cover certain preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance. Women's Preventive Services – including: well-woman visits; gestational diabetes screening; human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for women age 30 and older; sexually transmitted infection counseling; human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening and counseling; FDA-approved contraceptive methods and contraceptive counseling; breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling; and domestic violence screening and counseling – will be covered without cost sharing.[303] The requirement to cover FDA-approved contraceptive methods is also known as the contraceptive mandate.[304][305]
  • In Coleman v. Maryland Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court ruled that the Family Medical Leave Act's self-care leave provision is not enforceable against states; the court did not agree that the provision addresses sex discrimination and sex stereotyping.[306]
2013
  • The Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act, which prohibits knowingly transporting a girl out of the United States for the purpose of undergoing FGM, was enacted.[307]
  • On March 7, 2013, President Barack Obama signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.[308] The renewed act expanded federal protections to gays, lesbians and transgender individuals, Native Americans and immigrants.[309][310][311]
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, 570 U.S. ___ (2013), was a Supreme Court of the United States case involving the standard of proof required for a retaliation claim under Title VII.[312] The Court held that while Title VII applies a mixed motive discrimination framework to claims of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin (see 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2), that framework did not apply to claims of retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3. The Court reasoned that based on its decision in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc. and on common law principles of tort law, the plaintiff was required to show that a retaliatory motive was the "but for" cause of the adverse employment action.
  • Vance v. Ball State University is a U.S. Supreme Court case regarding who is a "supervisor" for the purposes of harassment lawsuits. The Supreme Court upheld the Seventh Circuit's decision in a 5–4 opinion written by Samuel Alito, rejecting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's interpretation of who counts as a supervisor.[313] The case was important because it resolved a dispute between several different circuits.[314][315][316] The Supreme Court held that an employee is a "supervisor" for purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII only if he or she is empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions against the victim.
  • Florida: A Florida man successfully forced the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles to accept his decision to take his wife's last name.[317]
  • Kansas: Kansas lawmakers approved sweeping anti-abortion legislation (HB 2253) on April 6, 2013 that says life begins at fertilization, forbids abortion based on gender and bans Planned Parenthood from providing sex education in schools.[318]
  • Washington: Until 2013, Washington had an exemption preventing a spouse from being prosecuted with third-degree-rape against the other spouse.[319]
2014
  • The Board of Immigration Appeals, America's highest immigration court, found for the first time that women who were victims of severe domestic violence in their home countries could be eligible for asylum in the United States.[320] However, this ruling was in the case of a woman from Guatemala and thus applies only to women from Guatemala.[320]
  • New amendments were made to the Clery Act to require reporting on domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.
  • Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. ___ (2014), was a landmark decision[321][322] by the United States Supreme Court allowing closely held for-profit corporations to be exempt from a law its owners religiously object to if there is a less restrictive means of furthering the law's interest. It is the first time that the court has recognized a for-profit corporation's claim of religious belief,[323] but it is limited to closely held corporations.[lower-alpha 1] The decision is an interpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and does not address whether such corporations are protected by the free-exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
For such companies, the Court's majority directly struck down the contraceptive mandate, a regulation adopted by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requiring employers to cover certain contraceptives for their female employees, by a 5–4 vote.[324] The court said that the mandate was not the least restrictive way to ensure access to contraceptive care, noting that a less restrictive alternative was being provided for religious non-profits, until the Court issued an injunction 3 days later, effectively ending said alternative, replacing it with a government-sponsored alternative for any female employees of closely held corporations that do not wish to provide birth control.[325]
  • United States v. Castleman (2014) challenged the application of the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban to misdemeanor convictions which did not involve "the use or attempted use of physical force". In a 9–0 decision, the United States Supreme Court held that Castleman's conviction of "misdemeanor domestic assault" did qualify as a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" under Tennessee state law. Specifically they held that the ""physical force" requirement is satisfied by the degree of force that supports a common-law battery conviction – namely, offensive touching" – thereby preventing him from possession of firearms.[326]
  • McCullen v. Coakley, 573 U.S. ___ (2014), was a United States Supreme Court case. The Court unanimously held that Massachusetts' 35-feet fixed abortion buffer zones, established via amendments to that state's Reproductive Health Care Facilities Act, violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because it limited free speech too broadly.
  • Oregon: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the state of Oregon or by any political subdivision in this state on account of sex. – Oregon Constitution, Article I, §46.
2015
  • Tennessee [327]
  • Kansas became the first state in the United States to ban the dilation and evacuation procedure, a common second-trimester abortion procedure.[328] But the new law was later struck down by the Kansas Court of Appeals in January 2016 without ever having gone into effect.[329]
  • The Obama administration issued a new rule stating that a closely held for-profit company that objects to covering contraception in its health plan can write a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services stating its objection, and that the Department will then notify a third-party insurer of the company's objection, and the insurer will provide birth control coverage to the company's female employees at no additional cost to the company.[330]
  • A policy update in 2015 required all Indian Health Services-run pharmacies, clinics, and emergency departments to have Plan B One-Step in stock, to distribute it to any woman (or her representative) who asked for it without a prescription, age verification, registration or any other requirement, to provide orientation training to all staff regarding the medication, to provide unbiased and medically accurate information about emergency contraception, and to make someone available at all times to distribute the pill in case the primary staffer objected to providing it on religious or moral grounds.[331]
  • Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers LLC and DOES 1–20 was a lawsuit filed in 2012 in San Francisco County Superior Court under the law of California by executive Ellen Pao for gender discrimination against her employer, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Overlapping with a number of condemning studies on the representation of women in venture capital, the case was followed closely by reporters, advocacy groups and Silicon Valley executives.[332] Given the tendency for similar cases to reach settlements out of court, coverage of Pao v. Kleiner Perkins described it as a landmark trial once it began in February 2015.[333][334] On March 27, 2015 the jury found in favor of Kleiner Perkins on all counts.
  • In the U.S. Supreme Court case Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 576 U.S. ___ (2015), the Court held that Congress specifically intended to include disparate impact claims in the Fair Housing Act, but that such claims require a plaintiff to prove it is the defendant's policies that cause a disparity.[335] The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on sex.[336]
  • Young v. United Parcel Service, 575 U.S. ___ (2015), is a United States Supreme Court case that the Court evaluated the requirements for bringing a disparate treatment claim under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.[337] In a 6–3 decision, the Court held that to bring such a claim, a pregnant employee must show that their employer refused to provide accommodations and that the employer later provided accommodations to other employees with similar restrictions.[337]
2016
  • Zubik v. Burwell was a case before the United States Supreme Court on whether religious institutions other than churches should be exempt from the contraceptive mandate, a regulation adopted by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires non-church employers to cover certain contraceptives for their female employees. Churches are already exempt under those regulations.[338] On May 16, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a per curiam ruling in Zubik v. Burwell that vacated the decisions of the Circuit Courts of Appeals and remanded the case "to the respective United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fifth, Tenth, and D.C. Circuits" for reconsideration in light of the "positions asserted by the parties in their supplemental briefs".[339] Because the Petitioners agreed that "their religious exercise is not infringed where they 'need to do nothing more than contract for a plan that does not include coverage for some or all forms of contraception'", the Court held that the parties should be given an opportunity to clarify and refine how this approach would work in practice and to "resolve any outstanding issues".[340] The Supreme Court expressed "no view on the merits of the cases."[341] In a concurring opinion, Justice Sotomeyer, joined by Justice Ginsburg noted that in earlier cases "some lower courts have ignored those instructions" and cautioned lower courts not to read any signals in the Supreme Court's actions in this case.[342]
  • Voisine v. United States, 579 U.S. ___ (2016), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that reckless misdemeanor domestic violence convictions trigger gun control prohibitions on gun ownership.[343][344][345]
  • Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, 579 U.S. ___ (2016), was a United States Supreme Court case decided on June 27, 2016, when the Court ruled 5–3 that Texas cannot place restrictions on the delivery of abortion services that create an undue burden for women seeking an abortion. It has been called the most significant abortion rights case before the Supreme Court since Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992.[346]
  • The Survivors' Bill of Rights Act of 2016 was passed by the United States Congress in September 2016 and signed into law by US President Barack Obama on October 7, 2016.[347] The law overhauls the way that rape kits are processed within the United States and creates a bill of rights for victims. Through the law, survivors of sexual assault are given the right to have a rape kit preserved for the length of the case's statute of limitations, to be notified of an evidence kit's destruction, and to be informed about results of forensic exams.[347]
  • The Obama administration issued guidance that informed states that ending Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood or other health-care providers that performed abortions might be against federal law. The Obama administration contended that Medicaid law permitted states to ban providers from the program only if the providers could not perform covered services or bill for those services. However, the Trump administration repealed this guidance in 2018.[348]
2017
  • The "Mexico City Policy" was reinstated by President Trump.[349] Trump not only reinstated the policy but expanded it, making it cover all global health organizations that receive U.S. government funding, rather than only family planning organizations that do, as was previously the case.[350]
  • A new law ended former President Obama's executive order, which would have mandated companies trying to get contracts with the federal government to show compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws.[351] That executive order had been enjoined by a federal judge in October 2016.[352]
  • In 2017 a rule about abortions was overturned by new legislation.[353] Late in 2016, the Obama administration issued the rule, effective in January 2017, banning U.S. states from withholding federal family-planning funds from health clinics that give abortions, including Planned Parenthood affiliates; this rule mandates that local and state governments give federal funds for services related to sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy care, fertility, contraception, and breast and cervical cancer screening to qualified health providers whether or not they give abortions.[354] However, this rule was blocked by a federal judge the day before it would have taken effect.[355]
  • The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that employers could pay women less than men for the same work if they based that on differences in the workers' previous salaries.[356]
  • The Trump administration issued a ruling letting insurers and employers refuse to provide birth control if doing so went against their "religious beliefs" or "moral convictions".[357]
  • Federal judge Wendy Beetlestone issued an injunction temporarily stopping the enforcement of the Trump administration ruling letting insurers and employers refuse to provide birth control if doing so went against their "religious beliefs" or "moral convictions".[357][358]
2018
  • The Trump administration repealed guidance issued in 2016 by the Obama administration, which had informed states that ending Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood or other health-care providers that performed abortions might be against federal law. The Obama administration had contended that Medicaid law permitted states to ban providers from the program only if the providers could not perform covered services or bill for those services.[348]
  • National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra was a case before the Supreme Court of the United States addressing the constitutionality of California's FACT Act, which mandated that crisis pregnancy centers provide certain disclosures about state services. The law required that licensed centers post visible notices that other options for pregnancy, including abortion, are available from state-sponsored clinics. It also mandated that unlicensed centers post notice of their unlicensed status. The centers, typically run by Christian non-profit groups, challenged the act on the basis that it violated their free speech. After prior reviews in lower courts, the case was brought to the Supreme Court, asking "Whether the disclosures required by the California Reproductive FACT Act violate the protections set forth in the free speech clause of the First Amendment, applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment."[359] The Court ruled on June 26, 2018 in a 5–4 decision that the notices required by the FACT Act violate the First Amendment by targeting speakers rather than speech.[360]
  • California: A law was signed making California the first state in America to require women to be included on companies’ boards of directors. The law requires all publicly traded California companies to have at least one woman on their boards by the end of 2019, and in 2021 requires five-member boards to have two female members, and boards with six or more members to have three.[361]
  • The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) are the U.S. Senate and House bills that as the FOSTA-SESTA package became law on April 11, 2018. They clarify the country's sex trafficking law to make it illegal to knowingly assist, facilitate, or support sex trafficking, and amend the Section 230 safe harbors of the Communications Decency Act (which make online services immune from civil liability for the actions of their users) to exclude enforcement of federal or state sex trafficking laws from its immunity.
  • On November 20, 2018, U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman ruled that the federal Female Genital Mutilation Act of 1996 was unconstitutional. The defendants in this case which led to this ruling had argued successfully that the practice does not pertain to the Commerce Clause under which the federal law was passed.[362]
  • The FIRST STEP Act became law, and it requires the Federal Bureau of Prisons to make feminine hygiene products "available to prisoners for free, in a quantity that is appropriate to the healthcare needs of each prisoner."[363][364] It also prohibits the use of restraints on pregnant women, unless the woman "is an immediate and credible flight risk that cannot reasonably be prevented by other means" or "poses an immediate and serious threat of harm to herself or others that cannot reasonably be prevented by other means" or "a healthcare professional responsible for the health and safety of the prisoner determines that the use of restraints is appropriate for the medical safety of the prisoner." For those situations in which restraints are allowed, the legislation mandates the use of the least restrictive restraints necessary.[365] However, it only applies to federal prisons.[363]
  • Indiana: The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens. – Indiana Constitution, Article 1, §23 (2018).
  • District Judge Carlton Reeves blocked a Mississippi law banning abortion at 15 weeks from taking effect.[366]
  • The Violence Against Women Act expired on December 21, 2018.
2019
  • National Coalition for Men v. Selective Service System was a court case decided on February 22, 2019 that declared that the exclusion of female conscription from the male-only draft in the United States was unconstitutional. The case did not specify any action that the government must take.[367]
  • Minnesota: Until July 2019, in Minnesota sexual violence occurring between spouses at the time they cohabit or between unmarried partners could be prosecuted only if there was force or threat of thereof, due to exemptions created by Article 609.349 'Voluntary relationships'[368] which stipulated that certain sexual offenses do not apply to spouses (unless they are separated), and neither do they apply to unmarried cohabitants. These are offenses that deal with situations where the lack of consent is due to the incapacity of consent of the victim, including where the victim was drugged by the perpetrator. These situations, which were excluded from prosecution, are where the victim was "mentally impaired, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless". The term "mentally incapacitated" is defined as a person who "under the influence of alcohol, a narcotic, anesthetic, or any other substance, administered to that person without the person's agreement, lacks the judgment to give a reasoned consent to sexual contact or sexual penetration". (see Article 609.341 for definitions).[369] In 2019, these exemptions were repealed.[370][371]
  • Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Inc. (Docket 18-483) was a United States Supreme Court case dealing with the constitutionality of a 2016 anti-abortion law passed in the state of Indiana. Indiana's law sought to ban abortions performed solely on the basis of the fetus' gender, race, ethnicity, or disabilities. Lower courts had blocked enforcement of the law for violating a woman's right to abortion under privacy concerns within the Fourteenth Amendment, as previously found in the landmark cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The lower courts also blocked enforcement of another portion of the law that required the disposal of aborted fetuses through burial or cremation. The per curiam decision by the Supreme Court overturned the injunction on the fetal disposal portion of the law, but otherwise did not challenge or confirm the lower courts' ruling on the non-discrimination clauses, leaving these in place.
  • In June 2019, the Trump administration was allowed by a federal court of appeals to implement, while legal appeals continue, a policy restricting taxpayer dollars given to family planning facilities through Title X. This policy requires that companies receiving Title X funding must not mention abortion to patients, provide abortion referrals, or share space with abortion providers.[372][373]
  • Jurisdiction of the 10th Circuit: A federal lawsuit in the 10th Circuit regarding Fort Collins's ordinance against female toplessness was won at the appellate level. In September 2019, after spending over $300,000, Fort Collins decided to stop defending their ordinance against female toplessness and repeal it. That effectively gave females of all ages the right to go topless wherever males can in the jurisdiction of the 10th Circuit (Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma states as well as all counties and cities therein).[374]
  • Delaware: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex. – Delaware Constitution, Article I, §21 (2019)
  • A federal judge declared unconstitutional the Trump administration’s "conscience rule" that would have allowed providers of health care to refuse to participate in sterilizations, abortions, or other types of care they disagreed with on moral or religious grounds.[375]
  • The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared that Mississippi’s ban on abortion at 15 weeks was unconstitutional; the Court said U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled correctly when in 2018 he blocked the Mississippi law banning abortion at 15 weeks from taking effect.
  • The Violence Against Women Act, which expired on December 21, 2018, was temporarily reinstated via a short-term spending bill on January 25, 2019, but expired again on February 15, 2019.
2020
  • June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo (formerly June Medical Services, LLC v. Gee) (591 U.S. ___ (2020)) was a U.S. Supreme Court case which ruled that a Louisiana state law placing hospital-admission requirements on abortion clinics doctors, which had mirrored a Texas state law previously found unconstitutional under Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt (579 U.S. ___ (2016)) (WWH), was also unconstitutional.
  • Mississippi: A law was enacted in Mississippi banning abortions based on the sex, race, or genetic abnormality of the fetus.[376]
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, 591 U.S. ___ (2020) was a U.S. Supreme Court case involving the ministerial exception of federal employment discrimination laws. (When applied, the exception operates to give religious institutions an affirmative defense when sued for discrimination by employees who qualify as "ministers;"[377] for example, female priests cannot sue the Catholic church to force their hiring.[378]) The case extends from the Supreme Court's prior decision in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission[379] which created the ministerial exception based on the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the United States Constitution, asserting that federal discrimination laws cannot be applied to leaders of religious organizations. The case, along with the consolidated St. James School v. Biel (Docket 19-348), both arose from rulings in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that found that federal discrimination laws do apply to others within a religious organization that serve an important religious function but lack the title or training to be considered a religious leader under Hosanna-Tabor. The religious organization challenged that ruling on the basis of Hosanna-Tabor. The Supreme Court ruled in a 7–2 decision on July 8, 2020 that reversed the Ninth Circuit's ruling, affirming that the principles of Hosanna-Tabor, that a person can be serving an important religious function even if not holding the title or training of a religious leader, satisfied the ministerial exception in employment discrimination.
  • United States: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act tried to require employers to offer health-insurance plans that paid for contraceptives. The law specifically exempted churches, but not faith-based ministries. Due to that, religious non-profits like Little Sisters of the Poor were fined if they did not comply.[380] On October 6, 2017, Health & Human Services issued a new rule with an updated religious exemption that protected religious non-profits.[381] But federal judge Wendy Beetlestone issued an injunction temporarily stopping the enforcement of that exemption.[357][358] As well, following the new rule announcement, the state of Pennsylvania sued the federal government to take away the exemption.[382] Pennsylvania asked a judge to order that the Little Sisters of the Poor must comply with the federal mandate or pay tens of millions of dollars in fines.[383] The state alleged that the religious organization violated the Constitution, federal anti-discrimination law, and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).[384] On July 8, 2020, in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against that and in favor of Little Sisters of the Poor.[384][385]
  • National Coalition for Men v. Selective Service System was a court case decided on February 22, 2019 whose decision declared that the exclusion of female conscription from the male-only draft in the United States was unconstitutional; the decision did not specify any action that the government must take.[367] However, that decision was appealed[386] and a decision by a 3-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals was issued on August 13, 2020, reversing the 2019 decision on the grounds that it amounted to overturning the Supreme Court's precedent, which only the Supreme Court has the authority to do.[387][388]
  • Louisiana: In 2020, Louisiana voters passed a measure to amend the state constitution to omit any language implying that a woman has a right to get an abortion or that any abortion that does occur should be funded.[389]
  • Tennessee: Tennessee banned abortions because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome or because of the gender or race of the fetus.[390]
  • East Lansing, Michigan: The city of East Lansing, Michigan made it legal for women to go topless.[391]
  • Ohio: A bill was signed into law requiring all aborted fetal tissue to be cremated or buried.[392]
2021
  • Indiana: A law went into effect in Indiana mandating an ultrasound 18 hours or more before an abortion is performed.[393]
  • The STOP FGM Act of 2020 was signed into law, and it gives federal authorities the power to prosecute those who carry out or conspire to carry out FGM, as well as increasing the maximum prison sentence from five to ten years. It also requires government agencies to report to Congress about the estimated number of females who are at risk of or have had FGM, and on efforts to prevent FGM.[394]
  • The Supreme Court reinstated federal rules mandating anyone having a medication abortion to acquire the pills for it from a medical provider in person.[395]
  • President Biden rescinded the Mexico City policy.[396]
  • South Carolina: In February 2021, South Carolina passed a law which would outlaw almost all abortions in that state after a fetal heartbeat is detected; however, that law was blocked by a judge in March 2021.[397]
  • Minnesota: The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that people who drink alcohol or take drugs of their own free will before being sexually assaulted do not meet the Minnesota legislature’s definition of mentally incapacitated.[398]
  • Arkansas: In March 2021, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law a ban of abortions except in order to preserve the life of the mother. It is expected to enter force in May 2021.[399]
  • Utah: A law went into effect requiring the biological father of a pregnant woman’s unborn child to pay 50% of that pregnant woman's out-of-pocket pregnancy-related medical costs.[400]

See also


References


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