After Leon Goldfarb’s wife, Hannah Goldfarb, passed away, he was denied benefits available to sole surviving spouses that he would have obtained if their gender-roles were reversed. Ruth Bader Ginsburg represented Leon in challenging the law.
The government argued that Ginsburg wanted to “characterize this as a women’s rights case because the cause of women’s rights is now a fashionable one,” and Ginsburg “seeks to ride on its skirt tails.” Ginsburg argued that laws discriminating against men were actually a two-edge sword, reflecting and perpetuating stereotypes about the expected roles of men as well as women. She also showed that the “cause of women’s rights” was far from a passing trend.
In the second part of the episode, Lauren will explore the legacy of the partial victory of intermediate scrutiny, the end result of Ginsburg’s effort to locate sex equality in the Constitution. She will also discuss the intertwined legacy of the failure to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.
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