The Bumpy Road to the Present:
Two Steps Forward, One Step Backward
The law must be stable, but it must not stand still.
Philosophy of Law
It took less than two years to see just how wise or movable the law would be for women, for by the end of 1976 the limits of their progress became manifest. In a 1976 case, the Court made clear that there were limits as to just how far it was willing to go to countenance equal protection claims based on sex. The Court was not prepared to apply the strict "suspect class" test to cases raising challenges based on sex discrimination. Rather than rising to the level of strictest scrutiny, sex discrimination cases would bump against their own "glass ceiling"; they would receive, at best, "intermediate scrutiny," a new standard to be developed in such cases, or, at worst, the "reasonable relationship" test (the old standard) that many commentators refer to as "minimal scrutiny."