Brief Fact Summary. The Appellant, Sharron Frontiero (Appellant), asserts that a military practice that automatically allowed the wives of male officers to be considered as dependents and thus receive the rights of dependents, but required the female officers, in order to get the benefits for their husbands, to actually prove that their husbands were dependent upon them, is an unconstitutional gender based classification.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Classifications based on sex are inherently suspect and must be subject to strict judicial scrutiny.
Issue. Whether the differential treatment of the allocation of allowances and benefits in the uniformed services by allowing servicemen’s spouses to claim a dependent without regard to whether they are truly dependent on their spouses, while requiring servicewomen’s spouses to show they are actually dependent on their spouses for over one half of his support violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment?
Held. Reversed. The Due Process Clause is violated by this gender classification. Classifications based on sex are inherently suspect and must be subjected to strict judicial scrutiny.
Statute mandates invidious discrimination, which violates of the Constitution.
The challenged statute constitutes an unconstitutional discrimination in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. However it is unnecessary to characterize sex as a suspect class because if the Equal Rights Amendment is enacted it will resolve the substance of this precise question.
On the contrary, any statutory scheme which draws a sharp line between the sexes, solely for the purpose of achieving administrative convenience, necessarily commands dissimilar treatment for men and women who are similarly situated, and therefore involves the very kind of arbitrary legislative choice forbidden by the Constitution.View Full Point of Law