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Dr. Pauli Murray, the brilliant legal mind who argued that the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution applies to gender-based discrimination. The Notorious RBG herself based her arguments on Dr. Murray's work.


Dr. Pauli Murray is hardly the household name that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is, but a recent profile in Salon argues she should be. As Salon's Brittney Cooper explains, Murray, who graduated from the Howard University School of Law in 1944, was one of the first lawyers to argue that the Equal Protection Clause's approach to racial discrimination should apply equally to gender-based discrimination.

Ginsburg credits Murray's work as the inspiration for her 1971 brief in Reed v. Reed, which ruled that women could not be excluded as administrators of personal estates based on their gender. The Supreme Court case marked the first time that the Equal Protection Clause was applied to sex discrimination, and has served as precedent for many arguments in the decades since then. Ginsburg found Murray's prior arguments so important to her own that she elected to put Murray down as an honorary co-author on the milestone brief.


The Black, Queer, Feminist Legal Trailblazer You've Never Heard Of (NPR)

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