Frontiero was in the Air
Force. She applied for a housing benefit based on the fact that her
husband was a dependent, but was denied. She sued for gender
Under Air Force rules at the
time, a wife was automatically considered a dependent of a male soldier,
but a female soldier had to prove that her husband was actually
'dependent' on her for his income.
Frontiero argued that this
was a violation of due process
under the 5th Amendment.
The US Supreme Court found for
Frontiero and found the Air Force policy unconstitutional.
The US Supreme Court
compared gender discrimination to race
upon sex, like classifications based upon race, alienage, and national
origin are inherently suspect and must therefore be subjected to close
Therefore, the Court found
that the proper level of review was strict scrutiny.
The Court found that based
on a strict scrutiny review, the
Air Force policy did not meet the requirements of due process.
This was a reversal of the
position the US Supreme Court took in Reed v. Reed (404 U.S. 71 (1971)), where they found that
the proper level of judicial review for gender discrimination
was only rational basis review.
Later, the Court changed their
minds again in Craig v. Boren (429
U.S. 190 (1976)), and found that the proper level of judicial review for gender
discrimination was intermediate scrutiny.