594.01 Sex Equality's Past and Future

This seminar examines the relationships between pregnancy discrimination and sex discrimination, and between sex discrimination and restrictions on access to contraception and abortion. 

Through reading a combination of Supreme Court merits briefs, law review articles, and book excerpts, students will study how Ruth Bader Ginsburg and other advocates for women’s rights during the early 1970s viewed discrimination against pregnant women as a paradigmatic form of unconstitutional sex discrimination, and also viewed restrictions on access to contraception and abortion as implicating constitutional equality values in addition to liberty concerns. 

Students will also read such Supreme Court opinions as Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), Reed v. Reed (1971), Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), Frontiero v. Richardson (1973), Roe v. Wade (1973), Geduldig v. Aiello (1974), and Craig v. Boren (1976), and learn how the Court during the 1970s did not seriously consider the equality claims of the women’s movement outside the context of express sex-based classifications.  

Finally, we will read and discuss more recent Supreme Court decisions and opinions by individual Justices, which have increasingly—although not yet entirely—come to take seriously the submissions that pregnancy discrimination implicates equal protection, and that access to contraception and abortion are equality rights as well as liberty rights.  Those opinions include Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs (2003), Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) (Ginsburg, J., joined by Stevens, Souter, and Breyer, JJ., dissenting), Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (2014), Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016), and seminal gay rights cases, Lawrence v. Texas (2003) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015).

Spring 2017

Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor
Course Credits
Research paper, 25+ pages
Class participation
Neil S. Siegel
Sakai site: https://sakai.duke.edu/portal/site/LAW.594.01.Sp17
Email list: LAW.594.01.Sp17@sakai.duke.edu
Degree Requirements
Course Requirements - JD
Course Requirements - LLM
Course Areas of Practice
Course Areas of Practice