The Burger Court (1969–86)

Court Decisions

What standard of review did the Burger Court eventually adopt for gender-based classifications?

In the Reed case (1971), the Court applied the rational basis standard of review, while in Frontiero (1973), the Court applied strict scrutiny, the highest form of judicial review. The Burger Court eventually adopted a mid-level form of review between rational basis and strict scrutiny. This mid-level form of review was called intermediate scrutiny. The Court adopted this standard in its 1976 decision Craig v. Boren and its 1982 decision Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan. Craig v. Boren involved an Oklahoma law that allowed the sale of 3.2% (alcohol) beer to women 18 years of age and older but to men 21 years of age and older. The Court invalidated this gender-based distinction. In Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan, the Court struck down a nursing school’s rejection of male applicant Joe Hogan.


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