Discover Auburn Lecture Series launches fall series with Constitution Day program

Published: September 08, 2022

Article body

Auburn University Libraries will host the Discover Auburn Lectures Series that will start with a special program preceding the 235th celebration of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The program, titled “Gender Equality and the Supreme Court: Frontiero v. Richardson”, will take place on Sept. 13 at 3 p.m. in the Caroline Marshall Draughon Auditorium on the first floor of the Ralph Brown Draughon Library. It may also be attended via Zoom at

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 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.

Presenters Sharron (Frontiero) Cohen, lead plaintiff, and Joseph J. Levin, Jr., lead attorney, will discuss the litigation and aftermath of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court of the United States decision.

The public is welcome.

The presenters:

Sharron (Frontiero) Cohen

After leaving the Air Force, Cohen 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 14 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.

Levin 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, 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.