- Courtesy Allen Derr
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Allen Derr, the Boise attorney who won Reed v. Reed.
Derr's greatest legal claim to fame was his successful defense of Sally Reed in Reed v. Reed, a landmark case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971. Then-civil rights attorney and current U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg authored the defense brief to the high court.
- Focus Features
- Felicity Jones is Ruth Bader Ginsburg in On the Basis of Sex.
Here's a bit of background on Reed v. Reed: Sally Reed was separated from her husband Cecil when she challenged him to determine who should serve as administrator of their deceased son's (the estate was valued at less than $1,000). The son was killed by a shotgun blast in the basement of his father's home, and an autopsy indicated that his death was a suicide. Because he died without a will, Sally filed a petition to be appointed administrator of his estate. But Cecil filed a rival application, and Idaho law at the time required that "males must be preferred to females" when more than one person was equally qualified to administer an estate.
Ultimately the case was the subject of several appeals by both Sally and Cecil Reed. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Idaho Code's preference for males was unconstitutional. It was a landmark ruling, because the high court upheld the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited Idaho Code from enforcing differential treatment based on sex. Before the Supreme Court handed down its final ruling, Idaho amended its statutes to eliminate the mandatory preference for males. Because she was then the director of the ACLU Women's Rights Project, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was brought on board by Sally's defense team to author the brief.
- City of Boise Department of Arts & History
Allen Derr died on June 10, 2013.
On the Basis of Sex, starring Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer, opens in theaters across North America on Friday, Jan. 11. You can read BW's review here, and check out showtimes below.