Plaintiff’s wife died. The state of Florida provides a version of property tax relief for widows (women) but not widowers (men). Plaintiff sued based on a violation of the equal protection clause. The state argued that the preference for women was based on a specific financial hardship felt by women upon the death of their husbands.
Whether a statute that provides tax relief for women but not men of deceased spouses violates the equal protection clause.
No, the statute is upheld. The court applied a moderate level of scrutiny, which primarily rose and fell on whether the law was substantially related to the goals of the state statute. The goal of the statute was to provide relief to women impacted by the death of their spouse. Therefore, the court found that the law was sufficiently “narrowly tailored” for its legislative purpose.
The court argued that the financial difficulties facing women are greater than men in general. Women face a more difficult job market that inherently discriminates in female earning power. The court wrote that it is much easier for men to find employment upon the death of a spouse than for women, which justified the tax relief for women, but not for men.