With as broad of a category as family law is, it is only natural that we have more than one Important Family Law Cases. While the other article focused on important family law cases that affect marriage to this day, these family law cases focus on other aspects of family life, such as employment and housing.
Phillips v. Martin
Ida Phillips was in search of employment when she approached Martin Marietta Corp with an application in 1966. Upon her submission, she was notified that they were not accepting applications from women with preschool-age children, although Martin did employ men with preschool-age children. Ida Phillips sued the corporation claiming she was denied employment based on sex which violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, the district court ruled on the side of the defendant, alleging that because 75 to 80% of the applicants hired for the position Phillips applied for were women, proving insufficient evidence for a bias against women. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed.
Four years later and the case was heard by the Supreme Court. Within less than two months, the court released its decision for Phillips as a Per Curiam Opinion, or an issued opinion in the name of the Court rather than specific judges.
Since Martin Marietta Corp couldn’t produce any documentation or evidence that supported the theory that preschool-age children affect female job performance more so than preschool-age children affect male job performance, the Court found that refusal to hire a woman with young children violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In a per curiam opinion, the Court held that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 required that persons with similar qualifications be given equal employment opportunities regardless of their sex. In his concurring opinion, Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires uniform minimum qualifications for both male and female candidates
Moore v. City of East Cleveland, Ohio
In 1966, East Cleveland Ohio established a zoning ordinance that limited the occupancy of a housing unit to ‘members of a single family,’ which also listed a strict definition of what “family” includes. Specifically, the city ordinance defined a family as “the head of a household, his or her spouse, the couple’s childless, unmarried children, at most one child of the couple with dependent children, and one parent of either the head of the household or his or her spouse.”
In 1973, Mrs. Inez Moore lived in her home with her son and her two grandchildren. After the passing of her daughter, another grandson moved in with Mrs. Moore. Shortly after, Mrs. Moore received a notice of violation from the city directing her to remove her grandson, “ illegal occupant” as noted in the notice, from the home. After Mrs. Moore refused, the city filed a criminal charge against the occupant. Inez Moore moved to dismiss the ordinance claiming it was unconstitutional at face value. Her motion was dismissed, and the court ruled in favor of the city, sentencing Mrs. Moore to five days in jail, and a $25 fine. The Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling, and the Ohio Supreme Court denied review.
Three years after the incident occurred, Mrs. Moore’s case was argued to the Supreme Court of the United States. The question looking to be answered in this case was whether the ordinance violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
After seven months, the court reached its decision: 5-4 for Mrs. Moore. Four justices argued that the ordinance violated Moore’s rights as it constituted “intrusive regulation of the family,” with the fifth justice adding that the ordinance was invalid because it regulated who could live with Moore in her residential property, which constitutes a taking of property without just compensation.