FRONTIERO v. RICHARDSON

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
71-1694
Petitioner 
Richardson
Respondent 
Frontiero
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
(Argued the cause for the American Civil Liberties Union as amicus curiae)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Sharron Frontiero, a lieutenant in the United States Air Force, sought a dependent's allowance for her husband. Federal law provided that the wives of members of the military automatically became dependents; husbands of female members of the military, however, were not accepted as dependents unless they were dependent on their wives for over one-half of their support. Frontiero's request for dependent status for her husband was turned down.

Question 

Did a federal law, requiring different qualification criteria for male and female military spousal dependency, unconstitutionally discriminate against women thereby violating the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for Frontiero, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Equal Protection

Yes. The Court held that the statute in question clearly commanded "dissimilar treatment for men and women who are similarly situated," violating the Due Process Clause. Applying a strict standard of review to the sex-based classification, the Court found that the government's interest in administrative convenience could not justify discriminatory practices. The Court held that statutes that drew lines between the sexes on those grounds alone necessarily involved "the 'very kind of arbitrary legislative choice forbidden by the Constitution.'"

Cite this Page
FRONTIERO v. RICHARDSON. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 23 April 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1972/1972_71_1694>.
FRONTIERO v. RICHARDSON, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1972/1972_71_1694 (last visited April 23, 2014).
"FRONTIERO v. RICHARDSON," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed April 23, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1972/1972_71_1694.