Orr v. Orr
Argued November 27, 1978
Decided March 5, 1979
Full case nameWilliam Orr v. Lillian Orr
Citations440 U.S. 268 (more)
99 S. Ct. 1102; 59 L. Ed. 2d 306; 1979 U.S. LEXIS 65
The Alabama statute granting alimony only to women violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Warren E. Burger
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr. · Potter Stewart
Byron White · Thurgood Marshall
Harry Blackmun · Lewis F. Powell Jr.
William Rehnquist · John P. Stevens
Case opinions
MajorityBrennan, joined by Stewart, White, Marshall, Blackmun, Stevens
DissentRehnquist, joined by Burger
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. XIV

Orr v. Orr, 440 U.S. 268 (1979), was a United States Supreme Court case that held that a statutory scheme in Alabama that imposed alimony obligations on husbands but not on wives was an unconstitutional equal protection violation.[1]


The state of Alabama had adopted a statutory scheme that imposed alimony obligations on husbands but not on wives for the stated purpose of addressing the economic disparity between men and women by providing support for needy women after divorce.[1]

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Margaret Moses Young filed a brief for the American Civil Liberties Union as amicus curiae urging reversal.

Opinion of the Court

Applying intermediate scrutiny, the Court determined that the statute was not substantially related to the stated purpose. The Court observed that a gender neutral statute would still have the effect of providing for needy women, and that the only difference created by the Alabama statute was to also provide support for well off women that did not need support and to exclude needy men from support.[2]


  1. ^ a b Jonathan D. Varat; William Cohen; Vikram Amar (2009). Constitutional Law Cases and Materials (Concise Thirteenth ed.). New York: Foundation Press. p. 580.
  2. ^ Varat, p. 581