Justice Brennan's Gender Jurisprudence

21 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2009

See all articles by Rebecca Korzec

Rebecca Korzec

University of Baltimore - School of Law

Date Written: Fall 1991


During his thirty-four year tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice William Joseph Brennan, Jr. demonstrated unparalleled sensitivity to the protection of individual rights. Justice Brennan's landmark opinions included Baker v. Carr, Goldberg v. Kelly, and New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. before Brennan, Supreme Court jurisprudence exalted judicial passivity by employing techniques for avoiding constitutional issues, such as abstention, comity, exhaustion of remedies and the political question doctrine.

Against this background, Brennan became an active judicial voice in a series of innovative landmark cases, including decisions requiring federal officials to pay damages for violation of citizens' constitutional rights; authorizing federal courts to issue injunctions forbidding state court prosecutions under laws violating the First Amendment; and permitting congressional employees to sue members of Congress for discriminatory treatment.

However, less attention has been focused on Justice Brennan's dramatic impact on the Supreme Court's gender jurisprudence. More than any other member of the Court, Justice Brennan recognized the complexity and pervasiveness of sex discrimination and its costs to society as a whole. Brennan's opinions recognized that sex differentiation is largely cultural in origin, rather than based on "real" gender differences. As a result, Justice Brennan created a truly independent gender jurisprudence, eventually emerging as the architect of the Supreme Court's contemporary test for evaluating claims of sex-based discrimination.

Keywords: Supreme Court, Justice William Brennan, gender jurisprudence, sex discrimination, Baker v. Carr, Goldberg v. Kelly, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan

JEL Classification: K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Korzec, Rebecca, Justice Brennan's Gender Jurisprudence (Fall 1991). Akron Law Review, Vol. 25, No. 2, 1991. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1420159 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1420159

Rebecca Korzec (Contact Author)

University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )

1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States

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