Anne Davidow: Sex discrimination unconstitutional

Another prominent female legal figure we celebrate in anticipation of our 100th anniversary is Anne R. Davidow.  When Davidow applied to the Detroit College of Law, however, she was rejected because she was a woman. Nevertheless, she persisted and graduated from the University of Detroit Law School, passing the bar examination in 1920.

A lifetime member and once president of WLAM, Davidow was also a suffragist who fought hard for women’s right to vote. Speaking out for the rights we now enjoy and often take for granted, Davidow was fired from a job for wearing a suffragist button.

Impressively, Davidow was the very first attorney to argue, before the United States Supreme Court that sex discrimination was unconstitutional in the case of Goesaert v. Cleary.  Davidow challenged a Michigan law that prohibited women from working as bartenders unless their fathers or husbands were the owners of the bar.  Davidow argued that this type of sex discrimination deprived women of equal protection and treatment under the law.  Davidow’s arguments captivated so many that – even though she lost in court – the Michigan State Legislature repealed the law.  The loss of this case was also the driving force for Congresswoman Martha Griffith’s argument for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Similar to Judge Neuenfelt, who was recognized by WLAM a few days ago, Davidow was another strong and brave female lawyer who kept her maiden name throughout her legal career.  #WLAM100