The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 10-6 that Charter Day School (CDS) violated three female students’ equal protection rights by imposing a dress code that required them to wear skirts. According to the ruling,
we hold that CDS, a public school under North Carolina law, is a state actor for purposes of Section 1983 and the Equal Protection Clause. By implementing the skirts requirement based on blatant gender stereotypes about the “proper place” for girls and women in society, CDS has acted in clear violation of the Equal Protection Clause. We further hold that sex-based dress codes like the skirts requirement, when imposed by covered entities, are subject to review under the anti-discrimination provisions of Title IX.
The dissenting opinion argues
This case provides a perfect example of using federal powers to wrench our Constitution from its founding shape by hammering the constituent sovereignties in our system into one conforming federal mold. As the Department of Education rightly recognized, a single dress policy in an individual school is an issue for local determination, not federal control. Providing education for our nation’s youth is central to states’ sovereignty.