By Marcia Greenberger, Co-President,
National Women's Law Center
Cross-posted from Huffington Post
Many of the retrospectives on the legacy of Justice John Paul Stevens have talked about what an important force he was on the Court for almost 35 years. But few have recognized that women have been particular beneficiaries of his tenure.
Justice Stevens has left a profound stamp on women’s legal rights during the past 35 years. When Justice Stevens joined the Court in 1975, it was only four years earlier that the Supreme Court had struck down a law that discriminated on the basis of gender on constitutional grounds for the first time. When he joined the Court, public universities still excluded women on the grounds that they couldn’t withstand the rigors of certain educational programs, and law schools were just ending their practice of limiting the number of women they admitted. Roe v. Wade had been the law of the land for just two years. Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally-funded educational programs, had only recently been passed by Congress (in 1972), and no Supreme Court decisions had interpreted its reach or scope.