Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities

Constitution Day





On September 17, 1787, the Constitutional Congress held its final meeting to sign the Constitution of the United States of America. In 2004, Congress designated September 17 of each year as Constitution Day, requiring schools receiving federal funds and all federal agencies to coordinate educational events during the week to promote a better understanding of the Constitution. For more information, visit the National Constitution Center.  




Tuesday, September 13 at 3 PM

Draughon Library Ground Floor Auditorium


Gender Equality and the Supreme Court: Frontiero v. Richardson

The Lead Plaintiff and Lead Attorney discuss the litigation and aftermath 
of the landmark 1973 SCOTUS decision. 
Featuring Joseph J. Levin, Jr – co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center and Sharron Frontiero Cohen – USAF, Maxwell Air Force Base (Montgomery, AL) 


Frontiero v. Richardson (1973) was the first Supreme Court decision to recognize gender discrimination as a basis for striking down a federal law.  Sharron Frontiero, a young lieutenant at Maxwell Air Force Base, challenged legislation that granted certain housing and medical benefits to male servicemembers but not to their female colleagues.  Joseph Levin, Jr. took her case to the United States Supreme Court and won.  Frontiero is a truly landmark decision and has been cited in nearly every subsequent Supreme Court ruling on gender equality.  The case is also notable for Levin’s decision to offer a third of his oral argument time to Columbia law professor Ruth Bader Ginsburg for her first appearance before the Court.



Sharron Frontiero Cohen, Lead Plaintiff

After leaving the Air Force, Sharron worked as a physical therapist for a visiting nurse association, ran a crafts shop, operated a bookmobile for a city library, served as an elementary school librarian, and wrote materials as wide-ranging as romance novels and research-skills programs for children. For the past fourteen years, she has served as a volunteer lighthouse keeper on an island off the New England coast.  She lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, with her husband, David Cohen.

Joseph J. Levin, Jr., Lead Attorney

Joseph is a native of Montgomery and a 1966 graduate of the University of Alabama Law School.  He served in the U.S. Army, Military Intelligence branch from 1967 to 1969.  He is also the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, serving as legal director, chair of the board, president and CEO, and general counsel, before retiring in 2016.  He was a member of the 1976 Carter Presidential Transition Team and former chief counsel of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  He practiced law in Washington, D.C. from 1979-1996.  His better-known cases include the landmark sex discrimination case of Frontiero v. Richardson and the private segregated school case of Gilmore v. City of Montgomery.

Last Updated: August 30, 2022