Stanton v. Stanton
Argued February 19, 1975
Decided April 15, 1975
Full case nameStanton v. Stanton
Citations421 U.S. 7 (more)
95 S. Ct. 1373; 43 L. Ed. 2d 688
Case history
PriorAppeal from the Supreme Court of Utah
Utah's definition of adulthood was a violation of equal protection. Utah Supreme Court reversed and remanded.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Warren E. Burger
Associate Justices
William O. Douglas · William J. Brennan Jr.
Potter Stewart · Byron White
Thurgood Marshall · Harry Blackmun
Lewis F. Powell Jr. · William Rehnquist
Case opinions
MajorityBlackmun, joined by Burger, Douglas, Brennan, Stewart, White, Marshall, Powell
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. XIV

Stanton v. Stanton, 421 U.S. 7 (1975), is a United States Supreme Court case which struck down Utah's definitions of adulthood as a violation of equal protection: females reached adulthood at 18; males at 21.[1]: 217–218 


The case had started in Utah state court.[1]: 217–218  A divorced father stopped paying child support for his daughter when she turned eighteen, so the daughter's mother went to court to ask for support until both the daughter and the son reached twenty-one.[1]: 218  Utah divorce court ruled against the mother, and the Utah Supreme Court held that there was a "reasonable basis" for the differential: women matured earlier and married younger; men had a greater need for education.[1]: 218  The Utah court stated in its opinion that the basis for the law, though an "old notion," was not unconstitutional.[1]: 218 


Justice Blackmun wrote for the majority.[1]: 218  He found a violation of equal protection and said the law failed under any standard, including rational basis (the Supreme Court's lowest standard of review).[1]: 218  The decision remained in the context of child support, without considering different ages for males and females in other contexts.[1]: 218 

The Stanton decision placed the Court on record as declaring that society's stereotypes were not a legitimate basis for official policies that treated men and women differently.[1]: 218 

Blackmun wrote: "A child, male or female, is still a child... No longer is the female destined solely for the home and the rearing of the family, and only the male for the marketplace and the world of ideas... If a specified age of minority is required for the boy in order to assure him parental support while he attains his education and training, so, too, is it for the girl."[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Greenhouse, Linda (2005). Becoming Justice Blackmun. New York: Times Books. ISBN 978-0-8050-8057-5.
  2. ^ Stanton v. Stanton, 421 U.S. 7, 15 (1975).