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Kahn v. Shevin

The Facts Of The Case, The Lower Courts Rule, The Supreme Court Decides, Dissenting Opinions


Mel Kahn


Robert L. Shevin, et al.

Appellant's Claim

That a Florida law granting a tax exemption to widows but not widowers was unconstitutional.

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

Sydney H. McKenzie III

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E. Burger, William O. Douglas (writing for the Court), Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Potter Stewart, William H. Rehnquist

Justices Dissenting

William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Byron R. White


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

24 April 1974


Florida's granting of tax benefits to widows but not widowers was found to be valid under the Constitution.


The Supreme Court's decision in Kahn v. Shevin validated the use of gender classifications in instances where lawmakers are trying to achieve benevolent social goals.


The Supreme Court's decision in Kahn v. Shevin upheld benevolent gender classifications and was a benchmark for many similar cases to follow. Often the Court reaffirmed the opinion set forth here; at other times, it used Kahn v. Shevin as an example of the right way to wrote gender classifications into law in order to strike down other, less constitutionally valid attempts to do so.

Related Cases

  • Schlesinger v. Ballard, 419 U.S. 498 (1975).
  • Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 420 U.S. 636 (1975).
  • Califano v. Goldfarb, 430 U.S. 199 (1977).
  • Califano v. Webster, 430 U.S. 313 (1977).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980