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Legal Momentum is the oldest non-profit legal organization dedicated to advancing the rights of women and girls by using the power of the law and creating innovative public policy.

We were founded as the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund in 1970 and have been at the forefront of this movement for over 50 years. A sampling of our accomplishments over the decades illustrates Legal Momentum’s breadth and impact—in the courts, in policy, in legislation, and most importantly, in the lives of women and girls.

Through the Decades





  • Women Valued rapidly responds to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure hard fought gains for women are not undone by the pandemic. We published a National and NY State based resource guide for women workers including Spanish and Chinese translations.
  • We joined an amicus brief with a historic alliance of women and civil rights organizations to challenge Alabama’s proposed rollbacks of women’s reproductive freedoms and healthcare due to the virus.
  • Legal Momentum submitted public comments to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) challenging actions taken that negatively impact pay transparency.
  • Legal Momentum entered into a historic partnership with the National Organization for Women (NOW) as part of a national awareness campaign for the SYMS | Legal Momentum Helpline.


  • In response to the federal Department of Education’s proposed amendments to Title IX’s implementing regulations respecting sexual harassment in schools at all levels, NJEP submitted a statement opposing the proposed regulations on several grounds.
  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) presented several programs at the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Gender Violence and Bias Summits for all New Jersey judges in response to several judges’ ill-informed comments in rape cases.
  • Legal Momentum joined with three law professors to file an amicus brief in the New York Appellate Division in support of New York City’s statute permitting gender-motivated violence victims to sue their abusers and assailants. The Breest v. Haggis brief educated the court on the legislative history and intent of the federal and New York City civil rights remedy for gender-motivated violence as only Legal Momentum and these three law professors could, all of whom were closely involved in drafting, passing and defending the constitutionality of the federal VAWA civil rights remedy, ultimately deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in a widely criticized decision. The Court upheld New York City’s statute.
  • LM’s written testimony and recommendations to the NYC Commission on Human Rights on pregnancy and caregiver discrimination were cited in the City’s final report .
  • Legal Momentum, with pro bono partner Arnold Porter Kaye Scholer, filed an amicus brief in the California Court of Appeal First Appellate District in Kain v. King. The case involves the denial of a domestic violence restraining order after a trial and decision influenced by gender bias and myths about domestic violence and sexual assault. The brief educates the court about the realities of domestic violence, particularly the elements of coercive control. It identifies the concerning pattern of conduct perpetrated against appellant that the trial court failed to appropriately consider and the trial court’s misapplication of the laws that permit granting domestic violence restraining orders when evidence of coercive control is presented. Unfortunately the court upheld the lower court's order denying the order of protection
  • Legal Momentum joined numerous women's rights organizations in submitting an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in June Medical Services v. Gee. This case involves the constitutionality of a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges, similar to a Texas statute found unconstitutional in 2016 in a case referred to as Whole Women's Health. The brief argued that such abortion restrictions violate people’s constitutionally protected liberty to make the private decisions about child-bearing that are intertwined with their broader economic rights and security. The Supreme Court heard oral argument on March 4, 2020.


  • Following the 2017 launch of the Women Valued Initiative, Legal Momentum publishes the Legal Toolkit for Women's Economic Equality, a comprehensive New York State guide that educates woman and advocates about rights and benefits in 13 cross-cutting areas that relate to women’s economic security. The guide includes specialized guidance for low-wage and immigrant women. Additional resources include the Working Women's Bill of Rights.
  • Legal Momentum greatly expands the Rights Now! program, doubling the class of peer educators, expanding the curriculum content and extending the reach of the peer-led workshops throughout New York City.
  • Legal Momentum continues its work with pro bono partner Orrick, Herrington Sutcliffe LLP to advocate for laws throughout the country to ensure sextortion offenders can be held accountable. In 2018, sextortion laws passed in Arizona, West Virginia, New York, Maryland, and Rhode Island, joining Alabama, Arkansas, California, Texas, and Utah, which passed such laws in 2017.
  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) receives a $250,000 grant from the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women to carry forward its work on Teen Dating Violence, begun under prior OVW grants with the posting of NJEP’s Teen Dating Violence Information and Resources Sheets.
  • In Purcell v. Purcell, a case about intimate partner sexual abuse and bias against marital rape claims in the courts, Legal Momentum joins an amicus brief filed by the University of California Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic in the Fourth Appellate District of California. The Superior Court denied a victim of domestic violence and intimate partner sexual abuse a domestic violence protective order despite her pleadings of continuous physical and sexual abuse and coercive control. The trial judge was completely dismissive of the victim’s claim of repeated marital rape. The brief sought to educate the Court on the history of marital rape laws and the dynamics of the intersection of domestic violence and intimate partner sexual abuse. Unfortunately the protective order was denied.
  • Legal Momentum joins amicus briefs in cases before the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First, Third and Ninth Circuits opposing the federal government's rulemaking which would provide exception to the Affordable Care Act's mandate to provide no-cost contraception for employers and universities based on moral or religious obligations.


  • The documentary film, “I Am Jane Doe,” about victims of online sex trafficking, features Legal Momentum’s President and CEO and its Executive Vice President and Legal Director, along with Legal Momentum’s pro bono counsel David Boies, highlighting Legal Momentum’s work with Boies to end online sexual exploitation of vulnerable girls and women.
  • Along with Boies Shiller Flexner, Legal Momentum filed lawsuits against Backpage.com in Arizona and Florida on behalf of trafficking victims and organizations that provide services to trafficking survivors.
  • The Rights Now! Peer Educator Empowerment Program was launched. This peer education program empowers youth to identify and respond to forms of discrimination and understand their rights while helping them to build leadership skills. Rights Now! is funded by a grant from the New York City Council’s Young Women’s Initiative.
  • Legal Momentum joined Sanctuary for Families as co-lead on an amicus brief in a case under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Davies v. Davies involved the intersection of sexual assault and domestic violence, which is the subject of the National Judicial Education Program’s web course on Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling denying return of the child to his violent father.
  • Legal Momentum assists a former U.S. Marine, victimized by her landlord in a sextortion scheme, in filing a civil suit in New York State.
  • Along with pro bono partner Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Legal Momentum is nominated for a 2017 TrustLaw Impact Award for our work to combat sextortion, a growing form of cyber-crime that often targets young girls.
  • Legal Momentum works with Chicago Says No More to bring its "This Workplace is a DV-Free Zone" domestic violence model policy to employers in the Midwest.
  • Laws criminalizing sextortion pass in several states, including Utah, Arkansas, Texas, and California, thanks in part to the work of Legal Momentum and pro bono partner Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
  • Legal Momentum joins other leading labor and women’s rights organizations in the #EnoughisEnough national campaign aimed at bringing about substantive change to prevent, address and remedy sexual harassment in the workplaces and schools, spearheaded by the National Organization for Women (NOW).
  • Legal Momentum provides recommendations to the New York City Commission on Human Rights on key steps to protect vulnerable women from sexual and gender-based harassment in the workplace.


  • Legal Momentum settles the pregnancy discrimination case of Welfare v. American Airlines. In 2006, baggage handler Welfare was denied a light duty accommodation and forced to take unpaid leave—without health benefits—during her pregnancy. The case was delayed by the airline’s bankruptcy. While it was pending, Welfare became a strong advocate for pregnant workers and testified in New York City Council for City’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which was passed in 2014.
  • Legal Momentum published an op-ed in the Seattle Times on March 10, titled “Congress must lead charge to block Backpage.com sex ads.”
  • Legal Momentum was deeply involved in the New York City Council’s Young Women’s Initiative (YWI), which released its Phase I findings in May. The initiative was the first of its kind and crafted policy recommendations to address racial, gender, and other disparities that have an impact on the city’s young women and girls. Legal Momentum’s involvement in the YWI continues with Phase II.
  • Along with pro bono partners the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Legal Momentum released a hard-hitting report, “A Call to Action: Ending Sextortion in the Digital Age,” that provides a framework for increasing public awareness and improving the law to combat sextortion, or online sexual extortion.
  • Legal Momentum created a broad coalition of local and national anti-trafficking organizations, including survivor-led organizations, to work together and support each other’s efforts on the issue of online sexual exploitation of vulnerable women and children, especially teen girls.
  • In October, Legal Momentum, together with pro-bono partner Boies, Schiller Flexner submitted an amicus curiae brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case of Jane Doe et al. v. Backpage.com et al. Numerous anti-trafficking organizations and activists signed on to the brief. The brief was later cited in a U.S. Senate committee report on its investigations into the business activities of Backpage.com and its owners.


  • In March 2015, Legal Momentum launched “This Workplace Is a DV-Free Zone,” a model policy for employers to address domestic violence in the workplace, whether employees are victims or perpetrators. A webinar for more than 50 service providers and legal professionals and a comprehensive social media campaign, including a “DV-Free Zone Bill of Rights” poster to display in workplaces, accompanied the launch of the model policy, which is designed to be easy for employees to understand and for employers to adopt.
  • On July 7, 2015, “Enough Is Enough,” groundbreaking legislation to combat sexual violence on college and university campuses in New York State, was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Legal Momentum advocated successfully for the new law, which provides comprehensive policies to prevent sexual abuse and assault on campus and support victims.
  • Throughout the year, Legal Momentum participated in advocacy and educational efforts, including testifying before the New York City Council, conducting a “teach-in” at Columbia University, and participating in the Dartmouth and Annapolis national summit meetings on campus sexual assault. Legal Momentum also published “Know Your Rights” fact sheets for survivors of campus sexual assault.
  • Legal Momentum was awarded a grant by the Department of Justice Office of Violence against Women (OVW) to develop an introduction to the issues involved in teen dating violence and its intersections with other areas of the law. The new educational materials present an opportunity for judges, courts, and court-related professionals to protect victims, intervene with perpetrators, and educate the communities they serve on prevention.
  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) continued its outreach to educate judges and other court professionals on the realities of sexual and domestic violence, providing trainings in Illinois, New York, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wyoming, and for the National Association of Women Judges. NJEP also presented two free webinars, The Intersection of Stalking and Sexual Assault and Intimate Partner Sexual Assault: The Hidden Dimension of Domestic Violence.
  • Legal Momentum was awarded a second grant from OVW that provided $600,000 over three years to develop a new web course that will train sexual assault victim service providers to help their clients navigate the criminal justice system.
  • In 2015, the United States Supreme Court decided several cases in which Legal Momentum filed amicus briefs. In Young v. UPS, the Court upheld some of the key provisions in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, as Legal Momentum had urged it to do in our amicus brief. In Texas v. Inclusive Communities, the Court reaffirmed the Fair Housing Act as an important tool for combating not only racial segregation, but also denials of housing to victims of domestic violence. As our brief explained, victims of domestic violence are often evicted in response to municipal nuisance ordinances. In King v. Burwell, the Court affirmed a key component of the Affordable Care Act, allowing millions of women to access affordable health insurance.


  • Legal Momentum produced several acclaimed new reports that highlighted the gender aspect of poverty, including 50 Years of the War on Poverty: Too Little Progress; Women’s Poverty in the United States, 2013—Poverty Rate Remains High, Gender Poverty Gap Persists; A TANF Misery Index 2014 Update; Update of Single Parenthood in the United States–A Snapshot.
  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) was invited to give numerous trainings for judges and multidisciplinary professionals based on its new online curriculum modules as well as on its previously published training materials. Training presentations included webinars, conference presentations, and workshops throughout the year and across the country.
  • Legal Momentum filed a charge on behalf of a New York City Police Officer who was denied the opportunity to take the promotional examination for sergeant due to her pregnancy.
  • Legal Momentum filed an EEOC charge on behalf of women sheet metal workers subjected to discrimination, including unfair termination related to pregnancy. One of the women was harassed and fired after asking for accommodations to express breast milk for her infant. The case set an important legal precedent and achieved a significant settlement for the women.
  • Legal Momentum helped file a formal complaint with the Montana judicial disciplinary board against a judge who made appalling remarks about the victims in a statutory rape case and imposed minimal sentences. The Montana Supreme Court ordered both a public censure and a 31-day suspension for the judge.
  • Legal Momentum filed federal civil rights complaints with the U.S. Department of Education against an Ivy-league university under Title IX and the Clery Act in connection with its failure to expel a student whom it had found responsible for sexual misconduct. The DOE started an investigation in response to the complaints.
  • Along with scores of other women's and civil rights organizations, Legal Momentum marked the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in September 2014 with celebratory events and a successful social media awareness campaign.


  • The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act 2013 (VAWA) is signed in March. Legal Momentum, at the helm of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence against Women, led efforts to pass this important legislation and expand its protections for immigrant, Native American, and LGBT victims of sexual and domestic violence.
  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) continues to educate judges nationwide about the realities of sexual assault. More than 170 college administrators, rape crisis centers, mental health professionals, and justice system professionals order NJEP's training DVDs on understanding and addressing sexual violence.
  • Legal Momentum issues numerous studies and reports about issues affecting women’s economic security, including Beyond the Myths about Single Motherhood, the TANF Misery Index, and Still Excluded: There Are Still Virtually No Women in the Federally Created and Supervised Apprenticeship System for the Skilled Construction Trades.
  • Legal Momentum testifies in New York City Council urging passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations in the workplace to those who suffer medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. The Council unanimously passes the PWFA.


  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) works with the Tulalip Nation in Washington state to present a specially tailored version of its curriculum, Understanding Sexual Violence: The Judicial Response to Stranger and Nonstranger Rape and Sexual Assault, under a Court Training and Improvements grant from the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW). The program provides information and tools critical to the fair hearing of cases involving Native victims and perpetrators of sexual assault or domestic violence.
  • Legal Momentum launches the Single Parent Policy Advocacy Network (SPPAN), a network of advocates, government officials, academics, and journalists who share and discuss information on the status of single parents in the U.S., the vast majority of whom are women.
  • Legal Momentum forms the National Task Force on Tradeswomen's Issues, a coalition of national and regional advocacy organizations and tradeswomen. The Task Force works to ensure that women in New York City—and across the country—can access and thrive in careers in the construction trades.
  • Legal Momentum’s Pipeline Project transitions from an on-site research and direct-outreach initiative in nine New York City pilot schools to a full-time advocacy effort documenting recruitment best practices and advocating for their adoption system-wide.


  • Legal Momentum receives the 2011 Advocacy Award from the National Council for Research on Women for its Women and Poverty Program.
  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) publishes Judges Tell: What I Wish I Had Known Before I Presided in an Adult Victim Sexual Assault Case, addressing common misconceptions about rape that undermine fair adjudication of sexual violence cases. This publication is utilized by judges and justice system professionals nationwide.
  • Legal Momentum continues to play a vital role in reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA funds are critical for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Legal Momentum leads reauthorization efforts to ensure the passage of this critical legislation.


  • Through amicus briefs and legal assistance, Legal Momentum successfully fights to overturn the most controversial parts of SB 1070, the Arizona immigration law that would have caused severe hardship for immigrant women and their families.
  • Legal Momentum educates policymakers and others about women’s poverty and much-needed reforms in TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), the nation’s social safety net for women and children, through reports and Congressional briefings.
  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) establishes its campaign to integrate and sustain judicial, probation, and community education about adult victim sexual assault cases in jurisdictions throughout the country with its first regional team meeting.
  • The Immigrant Women Program initiates its advocacy program for the rights of immigrant women calling for comprehensive immigration reform through Congressional briefings, constituent advocacy, and reports.
  • Through roundtable discussions of tradeswomen, policy experts, and researchers, Legal Momentum works to increase and retain the number of women on federally-funded construction sites.
  • Through our Pipeline Program, Legal Momentum worked to increase girls’ enrollment in 14 career and technical education (CTE) high schools throughout New York City. Despite the protections of Title IX, girls are often underrepresented in CTE. Through CTE girls can gain skills necessary to enter higher paying "nontraditional" occupations for women, which in turn will have an effect on closing the gender wage gap.


[collapsed title="The 2000's"]


  • After several years of advocacy, Legal Momentum, along with sister organizations, lauds the passage and signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the first legislation signed by newly inaugurated President Barack Obama. The Act overturns the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. (550 US 618) 2007 and provides that each paycheck that contains discriminator compensation is a separate violation, no matter when the discrimination began, and contains a specific retroactivity provision.
  • In response to the 2008 economic crisis, Legal Momentum mounts a campaign to ensure that women benefit from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding and that federal contracts address occupational discrimination and create opportunities for women in non-traditional jobs in growing industries like energy and engineering.
  • In partnership with the New York City District Council of Carpenters Women’s Committee and NEW (Non-Traditional Employment for Women), and representative tradeswomen from most New York City trade unions, Legal Momentum’s Equality Works co-hosts the first-ever conference for women union members in the trades.
  • Legal Momentum successfully fights to expand unemployment insurance to previously ineligible women workers: victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking forced to leave their jobs for safety concerns, part-time workers, and those who must leave a job to attend to ailing family members.
  • Legal Momentum hosts a Symposium Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and honoring its initiator and champion, Vice President Joe Biden. We have worked with Senate Judiciary Committee staff beginning in 1990 to draft and pass VAWA and its subsequent reauthorizations. The symposium is a collaboration with the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law.
  • Legal Momentum launches a new initiative to educate policymakers about much needed reforms in TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), the nation’s social safety net for women and children.
  • Legal Momentum, as co-counsel in Germain v. The County of Suffolk,wins a jury verdict for plaintiff thereby vindicating the theory that an employer violates the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) when it denies its light duty policy to a pregnant employee.


  • Equality Works launches the Pipeline Project, aimed at increasing the number of high school girls in high-wage non-traditional career tracks in New York City Career and Technical High Schools.
  • Legal Momentum publishes From the Ground Up: Building Opportunities for Women in Construction, a report based on our ground-breaking conference, Women re:BUILD NY. The report focuses on the four pillars needed to make equal opportunity a reality for women in the construction trades.
  • Legal Momentum, publishes Sex, Lies, and Stereotypes: How Abstinence-only Programs Harm Women and Girls, a report exposing the misleading messages of abstinence-only programs and the risks they pose to the health and safety of women and girls in particular.
  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) posts an extensive web course on an almost invisible issue with critical implications for risk assessment, Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse: Adjudicating This Hidden Dimension of Domestic Violence Cases. Focused on judges but useful for multidisciplinary audiences, the web course is free and open to all. The web course was funded by the State Justice Institute and the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).
  • In Olvera Morales v. International Labor Management Corp. Legal Momentum achieves a path-breaking settlement in a class action discrimination suit against organizations that recruit and supply non-immigrant guest workers to U.S. farms. Settlement includes injunctive relief to prevent any recruitment discrimination against women.


  • Legal Momentum writes and publishes Women: A Celebration of Strength. This very colorful book of uniquely complex pop-ups celebrates U.S. women's history by highlighting topics from the suffrage movement to the fight for equal educational opportunities to the rise of female leaders in politics, business, sports, education, and the law.
  • The Immigrant Women Program is instrumental in the creation of U-visas and T-visas, which enable immigrant victims of crime to come forward and cooperate with investigations without fear of deportation.
  • Equality Works Project holds a conference for 250 representatives of government, labor, private developers, educators, and tradeswomen titled “Women Re:BUILD NY.” The conference fosters new dialogue among construction industry stakeholders, tradeswomen and advocates centered on best practices and concrete improvements for women working in the construction and skilled trades.
  • In Miller v. Conti Enterprises, Legal Momentum appears on behalf of a woman laborer who tried, repeatedly and unsuccessfully, to be hired on a state-funded road construction project in lower Manhattan. The EEOC finds not only that the firm discriminated against her, but that it had engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination against women generally.
  • Legal Momentum files sweeping sex discrimination charges against utility-giant Con Edison, alleging systemic unfair treatment of women in hiring, training, treatment and promotion, leading to an ongoing EEOC investigation.
  • In the lead up to the 2008 Presidential Elections, Legal Momentum launches "Women Decide 2008" a comprehensive effort to engage the public and policy makers in a new dialogue on issues that impact women disproportionately, but that are a priority for all Americans.
  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) helps to organize and presents at the Air Force’s groundbreaking, week-long Symposium on Sexual Assault Prevention Education and Risk Reduction.


  • Legal Momentum, as co-counsel in Wedow and Kline v. City of Kansas City, wins a landmark ruling from the Eighth Circuit, holding that providing inadequate gear and facilities for women firefighters is discrimination in violation of Title VII. The strongly-worded opinion is seen as a warning for fire departments nationwide.
  • The Equality Works Project stands up for tradeswomen, as Legal Momentum files three separate sex discrimination cases in New York against a construction company, a painting contractor, and an airline.
  • Bringing a fresh eye to U.S. Census data, Legal Momentum publishesReading Between the Lines: Women’s Poverty in the United States, a statistical analysis of Census data showing that a woman in the U.S. is 45 percent more likely to be poor than a man.
  • The Sexuality and Family Rights Program convenes “Teaching Only Abstinence: Consequences for Girls and Society” with Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Public Health. The expert roundtable exposes the harms of not providing the comprehensive information necessary for healthy decision-making about sexuality and preventing unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
  • The Immigrant Women Program publishes the first-ever Legal Rights of Immigrant Victims of Sexual Assault Manual to address the unique challenges for these victims.
  • Legal Momentum represents the plaintiff in Greer v. Beck’s Pub Grille, winning the first-ever ruling in Iowa that discharging an employee because of domestic violence is illegal.
  • Legal Momentum’s ongoing efforts as chair of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence results in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 2005, which becomes law in 2006. It provides $3.95 billion over five years to continue previously authorized services and establishes new protections and programs for battered and trafficked immigrant women, Native women, and other underserved populations.


  • The Family Initiative publishes Early Childhood Education for All: A Wise Investment, which reports recommendations arising from a 2004 conference co-sponsored by the MIT Workplace Center. The report demonstrates how public investment in quality child care and early education benefits all taxpayers and enhances economic vitality.
  • Legal Momentum's Employment and Housing Rights for Survivors of Abuse project continues to represent battered women who have lost jobs or housing because of the violence, filing Blackwell v. H.A. Housing in Colorado on behalf of a woman whose landlord refused her request to transfer to a safer location after she was brutally beaten by her ex-boyfriend. The case is later settled with damages for the plaintiff and a new transfer policy for victims of violence.
  • Legal Momentum launches the Sexuality and Family Rights Program to increase public awareness that abstinence-only programs threaten women’s and girls’ health, autonomy and well-being, and calls for comprehensive sex education programs.
  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) creates a three-volume, 1,000-page resource manual on sexual assault information, law and policy for the Air Force’s new sexual assault prevention and response initiative.
  • Legal Momentum appears as an amicus in New York’s highest court in a case that produces a landmark decision protecting battered mothers. The case, Nicholson v. Scoppetta, challenges New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services’ practice of bringing child neglect proceedings against battered mothers on the basis of their having “allowed” their children to witness domestic violence.


  • Legal Momentum is co-counsel in Second Circuit Court of Appeals cases that produce the first-ever circuit court ruling that welfare recipients employed in “workfare” projects as a condition of receiving benefits are employees protected by Title VII, in Colon v. City of New York andUnited States v. City of New York.
  • Legal Momentum represents 27 groups and individuals in an amicus brief submitted to the North Carolina Supreme Court in Imes v. City of Asheville, arguing that it should declare it unlawful to fire an individual for being a victim of domestic violence. The court rejects the argument, but its decision stimulates enactment of new employment protections for victims of domestic violence in the state.
  • The Immigrant Women Program publishes Breaking Barriers: A Complete Guide to Legal Rights and Resources for Battered Immigrants, an unprecedented comprehensive work relied on by service providers nationwide.
  • Legal Momentum submits a amicus brief to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Bird, arguing that the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), originally drafted by Legal Momentum, is a constitutional exercise of congressional power. The court upholds FACE.
  • As part of its Equality Works Program, Legal Momentum represents a female elevator mechanic in Mahl v. Schindler Elevator Corp., a federal sex discrimination and harassment suit in New York that results in the company adopting strong new anti-discrimination policies.


  • In Hernandez v. Ashcroft, Legal Momentum argues for relief under the immigration protection provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals offers the first clear definition of extreme cruelty under immigration law in domestic violence cases and quotes Legal Momentum’s amicus brief extensively.
  • Legal Momentum launches its Family Initiative for Child Care, Preschool and Afterschool to promote universal, affordable, quality child care and early education.
  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) publishes Evaluating the Evaluators: Problems with Outside Neutrals in The Judge’s Journal. The article describes gender bias in custody evaluations and is selected as one of the best articles of the year in an American Bar Association publication.
  • The Immigrant Women Program serves as co-chair of the National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women and spearheads the implementation and planning of the Network’s national conference, bringing together more that 475 participants from federal agencies and advocacy organizations.
  • NJEP publishes Gender, Justice and Law: From Asylum to Zygotes—Issues and Resources for Judicial, Legal and Continuing Legal Education, a 500-page guide to the myriad ways gender bias may be a factor in civil, criminal, family and juvenile law.
  • Legal Momentum’s amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas—a challenge to a Texas law that criminalizes some sexual acts only between same-sex couples—demonstrates why the statute is unconstitutional under the Court’s precedents against sex discrimination. This analysis helps the Court to place discrimination against lesbians and gay men within the framework of established law, defusing claims that proponents of equal rights are asking the Court to establish “new” rights.


  • In Apessos v. Memorial Press Group, Legal Momentum wins a precedent-setting ruling in Massachusetts Superior Court prohibiting employers from firing domestic violence survivors who must take time off from work to obtain a court order of protection.
  • In Sojourner v. N.J. Department of Human Services and Mason v. State of Nebraska, Legal Momentum challenges New Jersey and Nebraska laws limiting welfare for poor children. New Jersey denies welfare benefits to children born while someone in their family is receiving welfare assistance. The Nebraska law applies to children of disabled parents. The Sojourner case fails when the state supreme court decides the restrictions support legitimate state interests, but the Nebraska Supreme Court issues an injunction preventing its law from applying to households where neither parent is able to work.
  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) releases a two-hour training video, Presenting Medical Evidence in an Adult Rape Trial.
  • Legal Momentum publishes a second edition of Creating Solutions—Creating Change: The Impact of Violence in the Lives of Working Women. This popular manual helps employers adopt legally sound policies and create a workplace environment that supports employees impacted by domestic violence.
  • Legal Momentum files a critical amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs, which upholds the applicability of the Family and Medical Leave Act to state employers.
  • In Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, Legal Momentum’s amicus brief shows how international human rights law supports affirmative action admissions policies for the University of Michigan’s undergraduate and law school programs. The Supreme Court upholds the law school’s policy.
  • Legal Momentum commences federal class action in New York on behalf of Mexican women on temporary guest worker visas, Olvera-Morales v. ILMC. The case alleges that immigrant worker recruiting companies illegally steer women into jobs under a less desirable visa classification and men into higher paying, job-protected positions.
  • Legal Momentum brings McGilvray v. District of Columbia, a federal case, on behalf of a married couple denied a birth certificate for their new child because they gave their baby the mother’s last name. This results in a law permitting married parents in the District of Columbia to name their children after either parent, or both.


  • In Ferguson v. City of Charleston, Legal Momentum submits an amicus brief representing 21 pro-choice and women’s organizations before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court rules that a state hospital policy of conducting drug tests on pregnant women without their consent and informing police if a woman tests positive is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment.
  • Legal Momentum plays leading role in successful advocacy for refundable Child and Dependent Tax Credit as part of federal tax cut package. This refund is critical for low-income families to help them pay for child or dependent care so they can work.
  • In the wake of the September 11th attacks, Legal Momentum launches its Equality Works Program. First focused on ensuring equal opportunity for women in rebuilding New York, the program presses to increase the number of women in high-paying, male-dominated fields, such as construction and firefighting, and to end discrimination and stereotyping that stop women from being hired, safe and respected on the job.
  • The Equality Works Project produces awarding-winning Women of Ground Zero video, honoring heroic contributions of women in non-traditional jobs on 9/11.
  • The Equality Works Project, in conjunction with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, publishes Working First, But Working Poor, which shows how job training offered to welfare recipients tracks women into sex-stereotyped, low-paying jobs. As a follow-up, Legal Momentum hosts two-day meeting for tradeswomen and policy advocates from the seven states studied in the report to discuss nontraditional employment for low-income women.
  • Claiming that a landlord’s “zero tolerance for violence” policy violates the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition against sex discrimination, when used to evict a victim of domestic violence, Legal Momentum wins favorable settlement for victim in United States and Alvera v. C.B.M. Group, filed in federal court in Oregon.


  • Legal Momentum argues before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of plaintiff in Brzonkala v. Morrison, to defend the constitutionality of the civil rights provision of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). In a widely-criticized decision, the Supreme Court holds that Congress lacks power to give victims of gender-motivated violence a federal court remedy.
  • Legal Momentum is amicus in Planned Parenthood v. Perdue, which results in an Alaska Supreme Court ruling requiring that Medicaid funding be equally available for childbirth and abortion for poor women in the state.
  • Legal Momentum files amicus brief on behalf of 75 organizations committed to women’s equality in Stenberg v. Carhart, where Supreme Court strikes down a Nebraska abortion restriction as unconstitutional. The brief argues that statutes banning safe abortion procedures interfere not only with women’s privacy rights, but also with their aspirations to equality.
  • Legal Momentum submits brief to Nebraska Supreme Court in Brandon v. Richardson County, the case whose story was made famous by the 1999 film Boys Don’t Cry. The court upholds a damages award to Brandon Teena’s mother in her action against the county for failing to protect Brandon from being murdered.
  • Legal Momentum convinces the federal government to enhance child care access for welfare recipients via financial incentives aimed at states, and publishes Nowhere to Turn, which exposes New York City’s failure to inform parents on welfare of their child care rights.
  • As part of its work to bring attention to the eradication of poverty, Legal Momentum co-sponsors the conference To Promote the General Welfare: Ending Women’s Poverty with the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy.
  • Legal Momentum leads anti-violence advocates in another victory when Congress reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), providing $3.3 billion over 5 years to continue existing programs and to create new ones, including civil legal assistance, transitional housing, and a range of services for battered immigrant women and victims of dating violence.


[collapsed title="The 1990's"]


  • Legal Momentum wins Saenz v. Roe, a Supreme Court ruling that California’s one-year residency requirement for full welfare benefits violates the U.S. Constitution. Legal Momentum brings into the case the perspective of battered women who must flee their abusers across state lines.
  • Legal Momentum establishes Building Opportunities beyond Welfare Reform grassroots coalition to fight for policies to end women’s poverty, and publishes What Congress Didn’t Tell You: A State-by-State Guide to the Welfare Law’s Hidden Reproductive Rights Agenda, to highlight state participation in new initiatives to undermine poor women’s reproductive autonomy.
  • Legal Momentum founds Immigrant Women Program to advocate for legal protections, social services and economic justice for immigrant women.
  • Legal Momentum publishes Nontraditional Employment for Low Income Women: A Guide for Advocates. The booklet outlines the benefits of nontraditional work and identifies funding sources and other resources for advocates interested in promoting such programs.
  • Legal Momentum’s amicus brief is key to outcome in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Fischer, deciding that the defendant in an acquaintance rape case cannot ask the judge to instruct the jury that it could find he mistakenly believed his victim consented when she had testified to her vigorous struggle against him.


  • Legal Momentum is successful in freezing airline frequent flyer miles of anti-choice leader Randall Terry, who owes thousands of dollars in attorney fees awarded to pro-choice groups for successful suits against him and Operation Rescue.
  • Legal Momentum files amicus brief to persuade Supreme Court that Title VII covers same-sex sexual harassment, in Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services. The Court rules that Title VII does cover same-sex harassment because it is usually based on stereotypes about masculinity and femininity.
  • NJEP publishes model judicial education curriculum, When Bias Compounds: Insuring Equal Justice for Women of Color in the Courts and pilots it in California and Georgia.
  • Legal Momentum submits amicus brief that informs the now-famous Eighth Circuit case Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co., which awards damages to the sexually harassed employees of a Minnesota mining company. In 2005 this case was depicted in the Oscar-nominated movie North Country, based on the book Class Action.
  • Legal Momentum launches Employment and Housing Rights for Survivors of Abuse project by bringing sex discrimination suit, Valdez v. Truss Components, on behalf of a woman whose abusive former partner, who also worked with her, smashed her headlights in the company parking lot and threatened to kill her. The court rules that the company’s decision to fire the victim while retaining the abuser/co-worker may violate Title VII.


  • Legal Momentum victoriously argues NYS NOW v. Terry in the Second Circuit defending the federal court order protecting women, doctors and clinic workers from anti-choice blockades and violence.
  • As amicus in Bruneau v. South Kortright Central School District, Legal Momentum argues before Second Circuit that schools, like employers, have a responsibility to stop sexual harassment but case is unsuccessful.
  • Legal Momentum files amicus on peer sexual harassment case in Murrell v. School District No. 1, and is invited to argue before Tenth Circuit, which allows claims to go forward.
  • Legal Momentum submits amicus briefs in federal courts across the country to support constitutionality of civil rights remedy in VAWA, which permits victims of gender-based violence to sue their attackers in federal court.


  • Legal Momentum argues successfully as co-counsel in Pro-Choice Network v. Schenck in the U.S. Supreme Court that “fixed buffer zones,” which protect reproductive health clinics from violent protestors, are constitutional.
  • Legal Momentum issues Drawing the Line: A Handbook for Creating Community Residential Picketing and Buffer Zones, to show local activists and reproductive health care providers how to combat anti-choice violence through buffer zone ordinances and laws prohibiting residential picketing.
  • Legal Momentum issues report documenting that up to 75 percent of women in welfare-to-work programs have been battered.
  • Legal Momentum’s amicus brief contributes to landmark Supreme Court ruling U.S. v. Virginia that opens the doors of Virginia Military Institute to women, and secures stronger principles of constitutional equal protection for women.
  • NJEP publishes model judicial education curriculum, Adjudicating Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse When Custody is in Dispute, and pilots it in Alabama and Colorado.
  • Legal Momentum submits amicus brief on behalf of 15 women’s and reproductive rights groups in U.S. v. Bird to support federal criminal prosecution for FACE violations. The Fifth Circuit affirms that the case should be tried.
  • Legal Momentum writes a brief challenging the military’s policy of excluding gay men, lesbians and bisexuals under its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for the Fourth Circuit case, Thomasson v. Perry.


  • In American Life League v. Reno at the Fourth Circuit, Legal Momentum wins first federal appeals case upholding the constitutionality of FACE.
  • In the Second Circuit case Pro-Choice Network v. Schenck, Legal Momentum files a brief arguing that “sidewalk counseling” by anti-abortion protestors can constitute harassment and may be restricted.
  • Legal Momentum works with Congress to develop legislation prohibiting insurance companies from denying battered women health and life insurance coverage.
  • Legal Momentum as co-counsel wins the landmark Ninth Circuit case Doe v. Petaluma City School District, which establishes that a school is liable for sex discrimination for failing to address student-to-student sexual harassment.


  • The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passes Congress. VAWA culminates an intensive campaign led by Legal Momentum that mobilizes a 1,000-member task force to support the bill. VAWA secures $1.6 billion over six years for a National Domestic Violence Hotline and state programs to address domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. It successfully integrates issues of importance to immigrant women and women of color.
  • Congress enacts Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE). Legal Momentum helps to write the bill and provides extensive legal analysis and assistance to legislative sponsors.
  • Legal Momentum publishes STOP THE TERRORISM: Understanding Your Rights Under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, and delivers it to every governor and state attorney general in the country.
  • In Madsen v. Women’s Health Center, Legal Momentum submits brief to the Supreme Court supporting constitutionality of injunctions to stop clinic blockades.
  • NJEP publishes Understanding Sexual Violence: The Judicial Response to Stranger and Nonstranger Rape and Sexual Assault. This model curriculum is used to educate judges about myths and attitudes that undermine full and fair legal remedies for rape victims.


  • In Maryland Insurance Commissioner v. Equitable Life Assurance Society, Legal Momentum argues before Maryland’s highest court that gender-based discrimination in insurance ratemaking violates the state’s Equal Rights Amendment.
  • Legal Momentum submits amicus brief in Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc. The U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously that plaintiffs in sexual harassment cases do not need to prove psychological injury to recover damages from the employer.
  • Legal Momentum wins an appeal before the Seventh Circuit Co nurt of Appeals in Townsend v. Indiana University, a sexual harassment case involving psychological distress. The court rules that a worker does not have to be fired to win her case under Title VII. The issue is whether the discrimination inflicts the kind of harm for which Title VII offers a remedy.
  • Legal Momentum submits amicus brief to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Steffan v. Aspin, arguing that the military’s ban on homosexual members institutionalizes lesbian-baiting, the practice of threatening the careers of military women, whether or not they are lesbians, by calling them lesbians.
  • Legal Momentum is co-counsel in C.K. v. Shalala, a class action suit charging that New Jersey’s Family Development Plan, which restricts aid for children born to a woman already on welfare, violates federal and state laws by coercing reproductive choice. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the Plan, stating that it serves a legitimate state interest.
  • Legal Momentum publishes Manual for Survival for Women in Nontraditional Employment with the Association for Union Democracy, to help women succeed in the skilled trades.


  • Legal Momentum argues unsuccessfully before the U.S. Supreme Court in Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic that the Ku Klux Klan Act should apply to women who are blocked from access to reproductive health care clinics.
  • Legal Momentum’s Project on Equal Education Rights (PEER) program launches Project TEAM-The Education of Adolescent Mothers.
  • Legal Momentum, with the HIV Law Project and the ACLU AIDS Project, files petition challenging FDA’s guidelines that exclude women of childbearing potential from clinical trials for new drugs. As a result, the FDA now requires drug trials to include women.


  • In Doe v. Detroit Board of Education, the Board of Education agrees to admit girls to three previously all-male academies. This settlement results from lawsuits brought by Legal Momentum and the ACLU of Michigan in federal court.
  • In Alison D. v. Virginia M., Legal Momentum submits an amicus brief to New York State’s highest court arguing that non-biological lesbian co-parent should have standing to seek visitation after the adults separate.
  • Legal Momentum worked closely with Senate Judiciary Committee staff to draft VAWA and then founded the National Task Force on The Violence Against Women Act to urge its passage, ultimately achieved in 1994. That task force became the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence with which we have continued to work closely on VAWA’s subsequent reauthorizations.


  • Legal Momentum files amicus brief in Honigman v. Honigman, a pivotal case in New York’s appellate court, where the court holds that a mother’s career cannot be considered evidence that she is less qualified to have custody of a child than the father who is also employed.
  • Legal Momentum files amicus brief in Herald v. Hood, in which the Ohio Supreme Court affirms that an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse may bring suit against her abuser when she discovers her injuries, no matter how long ago the abuse was committed. Legal Momentum argues to protect the rights of incest survivors in several other cases including Barnes v. Barnes in the Indiana Supreme Court and Farris v. Compton in the D.C. Court of Appeals.
  • Legal Momentum submits an amicus brief in United Auto Workers v. Johnson Controls arguing that “fetal protection policies,” which prevent fertile women, but not men, from working violate Title VII. The Supreme Court rules that such policies are unlawful.


[collapsed title="The 1980's"]


  • Legal Momentum files Women’s Voices amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, documenting in their own voices the abortion experiences (legal and illegal) of thousands of American women and making an eloquent case for reproductive freedom. A plurality of the Court upholds many of the restrictions in the Missouri law including those on the use of public facilities for abortions, a viability test, and language in the preamble of the law claiming life begins at conception.
  • Legal Momentum files suits in Virginia and Washington, D.C. to force Operation Rescue to stop abortion clinic blockades.
  • Legal Momentum’s amicus work in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins results in an important U.S. Supreme Court victory holding that in sex discrimination cases the burden of proof is on the employer to show that gender and sex-stereotyping play no part in its employment decision.
  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP)’s efforts lead to first National Conference on Gender Bias in the Courts at the National Center for State Courts, based on the reports of the state supreme court task forces on gender bias in the courts for which NJEP’s programs were the catalyst.
  • NJEP publishes Promoting Gender Fairness Through Judicial Education: A Guide to the Issues and Resources, a 200-page overview of gender bias in 60 substantive and procedural areas of law and legal process.


  • As a result of NJEP’s efforts, the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators adopt resolutions that every state should have task forces to examine gender bias and minority concerns in its courts.
  • Legal Momentum launches Sexual Harassment Education and Prevention Project and produces videotape and handbook for employers.
  • In NOW v. Terry, filed in federal court in New York, Legal Momentum brings first clinic violence case under the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 civil rights law that prohibits private conspiracies to deprive persons of civil rights.


  • Legal Momentum publishes State by State Guide to Women’s Rights, a comprehensive guide to laws affecting women’s lives on a state-by-state basis.
  • Legal Momentum takes leading role in civil damages suits for incest survivors, developing model amicus brief arguing the constitutionality of filing suit when a survivor first discovers her psychological injuries during adulthood.
  • Legal Momentum becomes counsel in Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, a sexual harassment case filed in federal court in Florida that establishes pornography in the workplace can create an unlawful hostile environment, and that sexual harassment plaintiffs need not submit to offensive discovery into their sexual and intimate lives.
  • Legal Momentum submits amicus briefs in growing body of reproductive rights cases: In re A.C. in the Washington, D.C. courts, supporting right of terminally ill woman to make reproductive decisions; and In re Pamela Rae Stewart in California state court, opposing prosecution of a woman for not following her doctor’s advice during pregnancy.


  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) and National Association for Women Judges publish “how-to” manual detailing procedures for establishing and running state supreme court task forces on gender bias in the courts.
  • Legal Momentum submits amicus brief to First Circuit Court of Appeals in National Education Association v. Garrahy, which strikes down two Rhode Island statutes limiting insurance coverage for abortion procedures.
  • Legal Momentum files an amicus brief in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson. In this landmark case, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rules that sexual harassment creating an intolerable work environment, with or without tangible economic loss, violates Title VII.


  • As counsel for plaintiffs Dorothy Wade and Ruby Reeder, Legal Momentum files suit against the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture charging sex discrimination in employment and promotions. Wade and Reeder v. Block settles with reinstatement andsubstantial back pay awards for plaintiffs.
  • Our Project on Equal Education Rights (PEER) publishes reports and action kits focused on theme Equal Education for Girls Is Poverty Prevention For Women.
  • PEER announces its Silver Snail Awards to spotlight sluggish performance in bringing about gender equity in education.


  • ERA Impact Project wins Hartford Accident Indemnity Co. v. Insurance Commissioner, in Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, holding that sex-based pricing of auto insurance violates Pennsylvania’s Equal Rights Amendment.
  • Legal Momentum files an amicus brief in AFSCME v. State of Washington on issue of pay equity for jobs performed predominantly by women that are paid less than comparable jobs performed mostly by men. In a blow to the pay equity movement, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals holds Title VII does not require equal pay for jobs of comparable value.
  • Legal Momentum is amicus in Roberts v. U.S. Jaycees. The U.S. Supreme Court affirms a decision that the Jaycee are “a place of public accommodation” and strikes down male-only membership policy of U.S. Jaycees.


  • Legal Momentum files amicus briefs in Title VII employment discrimination cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, Boston Chapter NAACP v. Beecher and Memphis v. Stotts. The briefs urge that minority police officers and firefighters hired under court orders to remedy past discrimination should be exempt from “last hired – first fired” layoff policies. The Boston case becomes moot when legislature reinstates all laid-off employees, while Court rules against black firefighters in Memphis case.
  • Legal Momentum files amicus briefs in U.S. Supreme Court cases Planned Parenthood v. Ashcroft and Akron Center for Reproductive Health v. City of Akron to challenge restrictions on abortion. While in Planned Parenthood, the Court upholds parts of the law, it strikes down entire law in City of Akron.
  • In LaRue v. LaRue, Legal Momentum persuades West Virginia Supreme Court to recognize a homemaker’s non-monetary contribution to the marriage in dividing assets at divorce.
  • Legal Momentum establishes Insurance and Pension Project to protect economic security of older women.


  • ERA Impact Project wins first state ERA case, Tallon v. Liberty Hose Company No. 1, supporting the right of Pennsylvania women to be volunteer firefighters.
  • Legal Momentum seeks enforcement of Title IX in landmark caseGrove City College v. Bell, where the U.S. Supreme Court holds that Title IX’s protection against sex discrimination in federally assisted education applies only to particular college program that receives federal aid, not school as a whole.
  • Legal Momentum is co-counsel in American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists v. Thornburgh, challenging Pennsylvania’s Abortion Control Act, which attempts to regulate in minute detail abortion procedures, physicians and clinics providing abortions. The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down most of the statute.
  • As a result of the National Judicial Education Program (NJEP)’s judicial education programs, New Jersey’s Chief Justice appoints the first state supreme court task force on gender bias in the courts.
  • In Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan, the U.S. Supreme Court adopts analysis in Legal Momentum’s amicus brief, ruling that sex-segregated public nursing schools are unconstitutional.
  • Legal Momentum works to pass Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act enabling state courts to award ex-spouses of military members a percentage of members’ pensions. The Act protects spouses who forfeited their own earning opportunities to move repeatedly with, and make new homes for, the service members.


  • Legal Momentum’s Media Project helps FCC address lack of women’s ownership of broadcast channels.
  • Legal Momentum joins family law cases: Kuchta v. Kuchta in Missouri state court, about equitable division of pension plans; Roberto v. Brown and Lundberg v. Lundberg in Wisconsin state court, about compensation due to spouse whose employment enables other spouse to obtain an education; and McCarty v. McCarty in U.S. Supreme Court, seeking equitable division of pension for ex-spouses of military personnel.
  • Legal Momentum files amicus brief in U.S. Supreme Court case Rostker v. Goldberg, arguing on behalf of men that the male-only military draft discriminates against women under the 5th Amendment. The Court rules that national defense is a sufficiently important governmental interest to justify distinguishing between the sexes for the draft.
  • The National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) presents pilot course, Judicial Discretion: Does Sex Make a Difference?, at California Center for Judicial Education and Research. This is the first course of its kind ever presented for the judiciary.
  • Legal Momentum files amicus brief supporting extension of time period to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court rules case moot because Congress has already passed a 7-year extension.


  • Legal Momentum with the National Association of Women Judges establishes the National Judicial Education Program to Promote Equality for Women and Men in the Courts (NJEP) to identify and eliminate gender bias in the courts.
  • Legal Momentum fights for equal employment and wages as amici in August v. Delta Airlines in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals; Briggs v. City of Madison in federal court in Wisconsin; and County of Washington, OR v. Gunther. In Gunther, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that women prison guards can sue under Title VII for being paid less than male prison guards for similar work.


[collapsed title="The 1970's"]


  • Legal Momentum convenes National Assembly on the Future of the Family. Over 2,000 leaders attend first major public forum to dramatize how American families have changed and to search for solutions for new family problems.
  • Legal Momentum fights discrimination as amicus in several employment cases. In Continental Can Co. v. Minnesota, the Minnesota Supreme Court decides that employers failing to respond to sexual harassment violates the state law against sex discrimination in employment. Wengler v. Druggists Mutual Insurance Company leads to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that sex-based discrimination in a state workers compensation law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. International Union of Electrical Workers v. Westinghouse, in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and NOW v. Hughes Aircraft both challenge wage discrimination.
  • Legal Momentum and Women’s Law Project establish ERA Impact Project to develop principles of sex equality under state constitutions’ equal rights provisions.
  • Legal Momentum files amicus brief in Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Feeney, where the U.S. Supreme Court rules that a Massachusetts law giving veterans civil service employment preferences does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, despite its discriminatory impact on women.


  • Legal Momentum challenges Louisiana Head and Master Law, which gives exclusive control of marital property to husbands, by helping Selina Martin petition U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Legal Momentum joins historic affirmative action case, United Steelworkers v. Weber, where the U.S. Supreme Court rules that a voluntary affirmative action plan designed to redress past race segregation in employment does not violate Title VII; presses for law reform in Hisquierdo v. Hisquierdo, where a divorced woman seeks to share her husband’s pension, but is denied by the U.S. Supreme Court because the applicable law prevents pensions from becoming “community property” in marriage; and participates in Califano v. Westcott challenging discriminatory welfare policies, where the Supreme Court strikes down provisions in the Social Security Act that provide benefits for families with unemployed fathers, but not those with unemployed mothers.
  • In Bruno v. Codd, Legal Momentum assists New York State’s highest court in challenging failures by police and courts to respond seriously to domestic violence calls.
  • Judicial Appointment Project established to increase number of women appointed as federal judges.
  • The Project on Equal Education Rights (PEER) publishes Cracking the Glass Slipper, a guide for parents seeking to ensure equal education for their daughters.


  • Legal Momentum publishes The Supreme Court Decision on Pregnancy Disability: How It May Affect You and The Equal Rights Amendment: Ratification and the Seven-Year Provision.
  • Legal Momentum is an amicus in two U.S. Supreme Court Title IX cases to challenge sex discrimination in education: Alexander v. Yale University and Cannon v. University of Chicago. In Alexander, several female Yale students allege pervasive discrimination and sexual harassment in the university. The Court rules that the students lack standing to sue the University and cannot prove a distinct injury by the University. However, the Court rules in favor of the women in Cannon by establishing a right to sue a university under Title IX for denial of admission due to sex.


  • Legal Momentum co-organizes campaign to End Discrimination Against Pregnant Workers.
  • Legal Momentum files amicus briefs with U.S. Supreme Court defending affirmative action in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke and challenging “separate but equal” public education opportunities for girls, in Vorchheimer v. School District of Philadelphia. In Bakke, the Court upholds affirmative action policies that give limited consideration to race for university admissions, while striking down racial quotas. In Vorchheimer, a divided Court affirms a lower court ruling that Philadelphia can admit only boys to its prestigious Central High School. (A later lawsuit succeeds in opening the school to girls.)


  • The Project on Equal Education Rights (PEER) pressed White House staff on how to strengthen Title IX enforcement and mobilized a national coalition in support.
  • Legal Momentum joins other women’s groups to issue first-of-its-kind report on the criminal justice system’s response to rape.
  • Legal Momentum co-publishes first bibliography on rights of older women.
  • Legal Momentum collaborates in publication of A Woman’s Guide to Marriage and Divorce in New York State.


  • Legal Momentum establishes Project on Equal Education Rights (PEER) to realize the promise of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX is the federal law designed to eliminate sex discrimination in the nation’s schools, colleges, and universities.
  • PEER completes landmark study exposing sex role stereotypes in elementary school texts, and publishes Stalled at the Start, documenting a consistent pattern of neglect by the federal government in enforcing Title IX.
  • Legal Momentum convenes economic Think Tank for Women, challenging feminists, corporate and labor leaders, economists, and social planners to move women up the ladder in the economy.


  • Legal Momentum launches first national public service ad campaign: Woman-Power: It’s Much Too Good To Waste. The advertisement, “Hire Him, He’s Got Great Legs,” is reprinted around the country.


  • When Title VII is amended so that it no longer exempts educational institutions, Legal Momentum helps bring federal court cases claiming discrimination against women on university faculties: Johnson v. University of Pittsburgh and Cassler v. University of Maryland.


  • Legal Momentum files an amicus brief in Sprogis v. United Airlines in federal court in Illinois. The court strikes down the airline’s discriminatory policy of firing female flight attendants if they marry, ruling that it is unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII because no such policy applies to any male employees.


  • Legal Momentum is incorporated on March 16, 1970 as the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. Created by the founders of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Legal Momentum was established as a separate national 501(c)(3) organization to provide legal advocacy for women’s rights. In 2004, NOW Legal Defense changes its name to Legal Momentum, but continues its mission.
  • Legal Momentum begins work with legal docket of several employment cases including Bowe v. Colgate in the Seventh Circuit, which strikes down a company’s policy barring women from jobs that require lifting more than 35 pounds. The case is brought under Title VII, the federal law enacted in 1964 that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex as well as race, religion and national origin.