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In Episode 11 of Notorious, we discussed the case of Craig v. Boren, in which Ruth Bader Ginsberg, an attorney for the ACLU, helped shape a new level of judicial review in gender discrimination cases, appearing as amicus curiae.

In addressing Oklahoma laws that prevented young men, but not young women, from consuming low alcohol-content beer, the United States Supreme Court held that the gender classifications at issue were unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In making that determination, the Court found that 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. As a result, the Court instituted a new standard of judicial review, "intermediate scrutiny" under which: (1) the state must prove the existence of specific important governmental objectives; and (2) the law must be substantially related to the achievement of those objectives.

Justice Ginsberg, who would not join the Supreme Court, until 17 years later, influenced the outcome as an ACLU lawyer, appearing as amicus curiae, or a friend of the Court. Ginsburg advocated on behalf of the male petitioner, arguing for striking down a law that discriminated against young men.

Patterson Belknap attorneys, Michelle Bufano, Alejandro Cruz and Patricia Kim discuss this case and Justice Ginsburg’s long legacy of fighting for equality for all.