Laws and Women's Rights
Women in US Constitutional History: Sex Discrimination
Find key decisions in the history of federal law about sex discrimination in the United States.
Women in US Constitutional History: Women's Reproductive Rights
Key US federal decisions have changed women's rights related to controlling their own reproduction: pregnancy, birth control and abortion.
AFDC - Aid to Families with Dependent Children
AFDC - Aid to Families with Dependent Children - defined, and related to women's history.
Myra Bradwell biography - a profile of pioneer woman lawyer Myra Bradwell of Chicago.
A Brief History of CEDAW
An overview of CEDAW, the 1979 United Nations agreement on women's rights, including its origin and major features.
Frothingham v. Mellon and Massachusetts v. Mellon
Frothingham v. Mellon and Massachusetts v. Mellon - Supreme Court decision in 1923 addressing the expenditure of federal funds for infant and maternity health programs.
Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson
Landmark case in sexual harassment.
Minor v. Happersett
In 1874, the US Supreme Court ruled that women were not entitled to voting rights, despite the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Pennsylvania v. Addicks
In 1813, for the first time a US court decided that custody of children did not automatically rest with the father.
Persons Case and Famous Five
A description of the Persons Case in Canada.
President's Commission on the Status of Women
A history of the President's Commission on the Status of Women, 1961-1963, and its lasting effects.
Salic law defined and explained: European custom around women's inheritance of property and royal titles.
Specific Bills for Specific Ills
What does "specific bills for specific ills" mean? Do specific bills for specific ills solve discrimination problems better than an Equal Rights Amendment?
Was Tailhook sexual harassment or wild partying? Summary of the Tailhook Trial and Settlement.
United States v. Susan B. Anthony - 1873
When Susan B. Anthony voted in 1871, she was arrested, tried, and convicted in this test of women's citizenship rights.
Women's Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment
A history of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, as it has been applied to women's rights.
Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld
A landmark case in women's equality.
Woman and Her Wishes - 1853
Thomas Wentworth Higginson. a 19th century activist and writer, was an advocate for women's rights. In this essay, first published in 1853 and addressed to the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention, Higginson presents an early argument for women's rights.
Belva Lockwood's lobbying of Congress helped change the law to permit women to practice as attorneys in federal courts.
Blackstone Law Commentaries
In the 19th century, American and British women's rights -- or lack of them -- depended heavily on the commentaries of William Blackstone which defined a married woman and man as one person under the law. This affected property rights; it also affected the sort of control a man was assumed to have physically over his wife (to "chastise" her).
Sheppard-Towner Act of 1921
The Sheppard-Towner Act of 1921 was a ground-breaking law to fund maternity and infant health care.
In the history of women's rights, the legal concept of "suspect classification" or "suspect class" makes a difference. Read about the meaning of the term and why it matters.
Shall Women Be Equal Before the Law?
Elsie Hill and Florence Kelley wrote this 1922 article for The Nation, only two years after the winning of women's vote. They document on behalf of the National Woman's Party the status of women under the law at that time in various states, and propose, also on behalf of the National Woman's Party, a detailed Constitutional Amendment which they believed would remedy the inequalities while preserving appropriate protections for women under the law.
Strict Scrutiny Standard of Review
Court cases on discrimination often focus on the concept of strict scrutiny. What does this legal phrase mean in the context of women's rights?