The Dawning Continues
No written law has ever been more binding than unwritten custom supported by popular opinion.
Carrie Chapman Catt Why We Ask for the Submission of an Amendment Senate hearing on woman's suffrage, February 3, 1900.
Less than two years after Reed (and a few months after Roe), in the first half of 1973, the Supreme Court really did continue on its roll in expanding women's rights. The continuation came with Frontiero v. Richardson [93 S.Ct. 1764 ( 1973)], in which the Court struck down a law that allowed a difference in the payment of benefits to married male and married female members of the armed forces.
Frontiero specifically involved a federal law that allowed married male members of the armed forces to claim their wives as dependents, thereby gaining increased housing allowances and medical and dental benefits, whether or not the wives were in fact dependent. Under the same law, however, married female members of the armed forces could receive those benefits for their husbands only if the husbands were in fact dependent, with dependency defined as receiving at least 50 percent of his support from his spouse. Sharron Frontiero sought these benefits for herself and her husband and was told that she had to substantiate her husband's dependency. (Her husband was a full-time student and received $205 in veterans' benefits; his share of household expenses was $354.) She, in turn, claimed that the statute dis-