Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan

PETITIONER: Mississippi University for Women
LOCATION: Mississippi University for Women

DOCKET NO.: 81-406
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 458 US 718 (1982)
ARGUED: Mar 22, 1982
DECIDED: Jul 01, 1982

Hunter M. Gholson - Argued the cause for the petitioners
Wilbur O. Colom - Argued the cause for the respondent

Facts of the case

Joe Hogan, a registered nurse and qualified applicant, was denied admission to the Mississippi University for Women School of Nursing's baccalaureate program on the basis of sex. Created by a state statute in 1884, MUW was the oldest state-supported all-female college in the United States.


Did the state statute which prevented men from enrolling in MUW violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Media for Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 22, 1982 in Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Mississippi University for Women against Hogan.

Mr. Gholson, I think you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Hunter M. Gholson:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, this argument is presented on behalf of the Constitutional Board of Trustees which administers and sets policy for all higher learning in the state of Mississippi.

The case reviews a holding that any single-sex campus for females is unconstitutional, absent the maintenance of a single-sex campus for males.

It is not limited to any narrow holding with respect to nursing programs, but it applies campus-wide.

The defendant Board of Trustees operates eight university campuses in Mississippi in different locations.

Seven of them are co-educational, and one is female.

The Board of Trustees sets the policies and decides which universities may award which degrees.

I would like to say at the outset that we are not here to perpetuate a nineteenth century finishing school to teach young women needlecraft and kindergarten keeping.

Mississippi University for Women is a contemporary university which tries to prepare women to meet the challenges of today.

Our opponents have said that MUW offers such programs as fashion modeling and that sort of thing.

It also offers, in accordance with the bulletin which has been introduced, Air Force ROTC, computer sciences, accounting, pre-dentistry, pre-medical education, pre-law, and other such courses.

I think it is interesting to look for a moment at the history of this institution.

It was the first state-supported institution for the higher education of women in the country.

It was founded in 1884 after the University of Mississippi had become co-educational, so it cannot be said that it was founded for the purpose of relegating women to some inferior school.

On the contrary, as the bulletin indicates, it was the result of the efforts of a woman named Salley Renault and a number of other very progressive women of that era seeking higher education for women.

The holding of the--

Do we know what their reason was, if the University of Mississippi was then co-educational?

Hunter M. Gholson:

--I think, Mr. Justice Rehnquist, that the reason was that women perceived a special need for some of them for education especially tailored to the needs of women, and I would certainly say that not all women perceived this need.

Neither did they then, nor do they today, but our argument is that under the theory of federalism, if it is not in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, that Mississippi should be permitted to allow women who want single-sex education to get it.

Now, Mississippi used to have a single-sex higher educational institution for men, but that no longer exists, and I think the answer is, it no longer exists because the demand no longer exists, but the demand continues for single-sex education for women, and we believe that this option is Constitutionally permissible.

Mr. Gholson, do you know whether there are many single-sex tax-supported institutions in the country other than this one?

Hunter M. Gholson:

Yes, Mr. Justice Blackmun, to the extent that federal funds are granted under Title IX to all single-sex institutions who fit within the exception of Title IX, there are approximately 180 such institutions in the country, and one of our concerns in this case is, what will the fallout be should this Court adjudicate that no single-sex institution that receives state or federal funds passes Constitutional muster.

Where will the Department of Education be left in the administration of funds under Title IX as to which Congress has made a specific single-sex undergraduate exception?

Mr. Gholson, is it true that men are allowed to audit classes?

Hunter M. Gholson:

Yes, Mr. Justice Marshal--

And it is done, considerably?

Hunter M. Gholson:

--Not considerably, Your Honor.

It is done--

But it is done.