On the Basis of Sex

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a first year student at Harvard Law School. When her husband Martin, a sophomore, becomes ill with cancer, she goes to both her and her husband’s classes to take notes and transcribe courses, while taking care of himself and their daughter, Jane. Two years later, Martin enjoys cancer remission and gets hired by a prestigious New York firm.
Ruth makes a request to be allowed to finish law at Harvard by taking courses at Columbia University in New York, but her application is rejected so she has to move to Columbia. Despite graduating from the top of her class, she cannot work at a law firm because none of those she applies to want to hire a woman. She eventually became a teacher at Rutgers School of Law, teaching about “Sex and Law Discrimination.”
In the 1970s, Martin presented a case that attracted Ruth’s attention. Charles Moritz is a Denver man who had to hire a nurse to help him care for his mother and he could still work. Moritz was denied deduction for fees for the nurse because at that time the deductions were not made for “a woman, widowed or divorced, or a husband whose wife is immobilized or institutionalized.” The judges ruled that Moritz, a man who never got married, does not qualify for the tax deduction. Ruth sees in this case an opportunity to change the laws and mindsets of men at that time regarding women.

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