Reed v. Reed

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Reed v. Reed, , was an Equal Protection case in the United States in which the Supreme Court ruled that the administrators of estates cannot be named in a way that discriminates between sexes. After the death of their adopted son, Sally and Cecil Reed sought to be named the administrator of their son's estate; the Reeds were separated. The Idaho Probate Court specified that "males must be preferred to females" in appointing administrators of estates, so Cecil was appointed administrator. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that the law's dissimilar treatment of men and women was unconstitutional. From Chief Justice Burger's opinion:

<blockquote>To give a mandatory preference to members of either sex over members of the other, merely to accomplish the elimination of hearings on the merits, is to make the very kind of arbitrary legislative choice forbidden by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and whatever may be said as to the positive values of avoiding intrafamily controversy, the choice in this context may not lawfully be mandated solely on the basis of gender.</blockquote>

Significance

For the first time in history, the Supreme Court ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution applied to women.

Protecting women

While the first equal protection case to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, Reed did not issue a particularly strong...
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