Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld (Argued Jan. 20, 1975; Decided Mar. 19, 1975)
Ginsburg argued for the appellee. Stephen Wiesenfeld and Paula Polatschek were married in 1970. Polatschek had worked as a teacher for the five years prior to their marriage and continued teaching after they were married. Her salary was the principle source of the couple’s income, and social security contributions were regularly deducted from her salary. In 1972, Polatschek died in childbirth, which left Wiesenfeld with the care of their newborn son. Wiesenfeld applied for social security benefits for himself and his son, and was told that his son could receive them but that he could not. Social Security Act provides benefits based on the earnings of a deceased husband and father that are available to both the children and the widow. The benefits for a deceased wife and mother, however, are only available to the children. In 1973, Wiesenfeld sued on behalf of himself and similarly situated widowers. He claimed that the relevant section of the Social Security Act unfairly discriminated on the basis of sex and sought summary judgment. A three-judge panel of the district court granted Wiesenfeld’s motion for summary judgment.