Bradwell v. Illinois
Myra Bradwell, Plff. In Err., V. State Of Illinois
Myra Bradwell's efforts to gain admission to the Illinois bar resulted in a Supreme Court decision. Bradwell had married a lawyer and read the law with her husband. In 1869 she passed the Illinois bar examination but was refused admission to the bar. She appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause prevented the state from imposing admission requirements based on gender.
In Bradwell v. Illinois in 1872, the Court rejected her constitutional argument. In a concurring opinion that revealed the cultural underpinnings of the period, Justice Joseph P. Bradley supported the Illinois Supreme Court's denial of Bradwell's application to practice law in the state. Bradley articulated the widely held view that the "natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex evidently unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life." He further concluded that the "paramount destiny and mission of woman is to fulfill the noble and benign offices of wife and mother. This is the law of the Creator."
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