State Constitutions and Sex Discrimination

State Constitutions and Sex Discrimination

How State Constitutional Guarantees Compare to Federal Protection

When the government denies people their reproductive freedom, it perpetuates inequality along multiple lines, including gender. Under the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, courts must review laws that discriminate against women and pregnant people under heightened scrutiny. But the U.S. Supreme Court’s regressive decision in Dobbs refused to recognize the Constitution’s liberty and equality guarantees for pregnant people’s bodies and decisions. State courts can do better. State constitutions offer independent protections against discrimination based on sex and against reproductive control. Many state high courts have recognized stronger protections than those now guaranteed under federal law. Use this resource to explore how different state high courts approach their constitutional guarantees of gender equality — one vital pathway to stronger constitutional protection for reproductive autonomy.


state high courts have considered how their state constitutions protect against sex discrimination.


state high courts have recognized that their constitutions guarantee stronger protection for gender equality than the federal constitution.


state high courts have considered state constitutional protection for gender equality in cases involving pregnancy or abortion.

State Constitutional Standards

Most state high courts have addressed state constitutional protection against sex discrimination. Use the map to learn more about state constitutional protections against sex discrimination and each state’s standard of review.

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Constitutional Provisions
  • Sex or gender equality
  • Reproductive autonomy
  • Abortion right restriction

State-by-State Analysis

Select a state for a summary of its high court’s precedent on sex discrimination, analysis of how the state’s constitutional standard differs from the federal standard, and links to the relevant court decisions. Click the next tab for links to state constitutional provisions relied on in those decisions, and any constitutional provisions expressly addressing sex or gender, reproductive autonomy, or abortion.

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