United States Constitution: Fourteenth Amendment: Equal Protection Under the Law
14th Amendment of the Constitution. All citizens of the Untied State are entitled to equal protection under the law. Sounds nice. As always, the rhetoric and the reality are not often one in the same. However as a result of the civil war 1865 congress ratified the 14th amendment to the constitution the equal protection clause of the constitution.
Classifications are used to define standards such as fundamental rights, suspect classification, rational basis tests, and so forth. The equal protection clause under the 14th amendment has some crossover into due process of law considerations. However, the laws are no mutually exclusive.
State Action: There must be state action. Exclusive public functions, traditional and exclusive public function, or significant state involvement facilitating private action.
Strict Scrutiny: This standard applies the maximum level of scrutiny. If there is a suspect classification or fundamental right involved the standard of review is strict scrutiny. There must be a Compelling Government interest narrowly tailored so as to be as least restrictive on the rights of the individual as possible or the law will be held to be unconstitutional. The burden of proof is on the government.
Areas were we apply the strict scrutiny standard:
1. Fundamental Rights (privacy (strict constructionists don’t like), procreation, marriage, voting, interstate travel, 1st amendment rights)
3. Ailienage or National Origin
Intermediate Scrutiny: The standard of review for intermediate scrutiny is Important Purpose substantially related to that important purpose. The burden of proof is on the government.
The court will apply an intermediate level of scrutiny for Quasi-suspect Classifications such as:
1. Sex (Gender) – O’conner arguably moved the court more towards strict scrutiny
Rational Basis: Under the Rational Basis test, a law will be upheld if it is rationally related to a legitimate government interest. Reasonable regulation rationally related. We apply the rational basis test for non suspect classifications. Generally speaking the law will be held to be constitutional under the rational basis test. It has the lowest threshold standard. The burden of proof is on the challenger.
1. Non Suspect Classifications
5. Right to Die
7. Housing and Substinance