Civil Rights, Equality And Social Movements

Equality And Social Movements


Due to the fact that gender was used to favor others especially men in some situations, there came up forces to fight this including the women’s movement.  However the fourteenth Amendment seemed to offer some legal solutions.

Fourteenth amendment on applying equal laws

The fourteenth amendment of the constitution bars states from refuting to any person’s  equal protection of laws. It has no indication that on its adoption it was meant to endorse women equality under the law. This was a law that in the first instance had sex specific language in the constitution. States in applying the law had to put gender in mind otherwise like in the following case then there was no violation despite the woman having to exceed ten hours at work. The stated hours for a woman are ten hours.  The Oregon act limited the working hours for a woman and in accordance to it attorney Louis Brandeis had convicted a defendant for violating the act in a washing. He argued that this act restricted the hours that any woman would work in a factory, laundry or mechanical establishment. Long hours were said to be dangerous for a woman due to many feminine factors like feminine functions. Though this amendment has the general right to contract, liberty is said not to be outright and was not extended to every contract. To this a state could limit a person’s power of contract.

Court opinion on gender discrimination

The Supreme Court determined that sex discrimination was a violation of the constitution. This was unexpected as it was quite clear in the Idaho mandatory that a man was preferred to a woman. In the Reed v. Reed case, justice Warren concluded that the Idaho code which had favored Cecil over sally on gender basis had no sustaining grounds faced with the 14th amendment which holds that no state should deny any person the equal protection of the laws. This case acknowledged sex discrimination to be a violation of the constitution and it became the foundation for other decisions that had issues to do with gender discrimination. The Idaho mandatory preferred males to women and judging by the standards it did not attain states objective. According to the Supreme Court a hearing was necessary in determining who was most suitable to administer the estates rather than just the gender basis. With this in mind, the Supreme Court had placed a hearing and did not just regard the gender value.

Difference between formal and informal constitutional processes

For a government to succeed it has to keep up with changes. Those who found the constitution realized that over time, change was actually inevitable. Thus the constitution was constructed as a document that was adaptable so that it could develop and change alongside with the societies it governs. To do this, the constitution can be modified either formally or informally.  In the formal process, there are two phases namely the ratification and the proposal. This process Changes the figurative implication of the Constitution, may occur via all three government branches, can be influenced politically and can be at times implemented as formal amendments. In the second proposal, it is less official whereby the constitution can be changed via a judicial interpretation, political practices and if there are increased demands from policy makers.

Advantage of equal rights amendments

The equal rights amendments were important in that they guaranteed equality under the law. This was a plus as far as gender discrimination was concerned because of the guarantee aspect. These guarantees were in three sections. One the equal rights cannot be denied neither by the US or any other state. Two the congress holds the power to enforce but through proper legislation. Three upon ratification, the amendment will take effect after two years.


Laws if properly applied can really help in maintaining law and order in a nation. Judges, lawyers and the citizens should see to the proper use of the law for the success of their nation.

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