How has the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment changed the Constitution? NO STATE MAY DENY TO ANY PERSON WITHIN ITS JURISDICTION THE EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAWS “establishes equality before the law, and it gives, to the humblest, the poorest, the most despised . . . The same rights and the same protection before the law as it gives to the most powerful, the most wealthy, or those most haughty.” Senator Jacob Howard This is a constitutional guarantee of fair treatment for all persons, regardless of sex, race, national origin, religion or political views This is rooted in the Declaration of Independence’s line that “all men are created equal” 2 early cases illustrate this Strauder v. West Virginia (1880) – The conviction of an African American by an all white jury (as per W.V. law) was unconstitutional because it violated his 14th Amendment right to equal protection of the law Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886) – Ruled a San Francisco law discriminating against Chinese laundry businesses was unconstitutional. It applied the equal protection clause to citizens and aliens alike Every Person is entitled to “EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY” Everyone has the right to try to achieve their goals (pursuit of happiness) Laws cannot unfairly disadvantage anyone in his/her opportunity to seek a variety of social goods (education, employment, housing, and political rights) It does not mean “EQUALITY OF CONDITION,” the concept that everyone is entitled to the same outcomes of life What are the differences between equality of condition and equal protection of the laws? Does inequality of condition undermine the ideal of equality of rights? Explain your response. At the end of RECONSTRUTION, the Southern states adopted “Jim Crow” laws designed to limit the rights and freedoms of African Americans Plessey v. Ferguson established the policy of “SEPARATE BUT EQUAL” + “if blacks interpret the “separate but equal doctrine as a badge of inferiority, it was solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it” - “our Constitution is color-blind . . . In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law . . . The judgment this day rendered will prove to be quite as pernicious as the Dred Scot case.” Plessey v. Ferguson created state-sponsored segregation that lasted 60 years. It required racial separation NAACP (1909) fought for years to use the judicial system to end discrimination by challenging laws and appealing to the conscience of the people Mob violence * Lynching * Crushing discrimination Focused on education as the best way to end discrimination Thurgood Marshall led the NAACP in winning case after case challenging the “equalness” of higher education (law, medicine, other) Brown v. Board of Education brought before the Supreme Court the issue of equal protection of the law and education NAACP was able to prove severe and damaging effects of segregated schools Supreme Court voted 9-0 to reverse “Separate but Equal” This decision would prove VERY HARD to enforce Some classifications in the law are deemed OK ie – 0-15 cannot drive while 16-? can Others are not. The Supreme Court uses 3 levels of analysis to decide if laws that create classifications violate equal protection Strict Scrutiny 1) • • Laws that deny or dilute the right to vote, impede interstate travel, or appear to restrict access to the courts get strict scrutiny Must be able to give extremely strong reason (compelling state interest) • Ie - Japanese Internment during World War II Intermediate Scrutiny 2) • • • Laws based on gender and illegitimacy are subject to intermediate scrutiny Must be able to prove laws are “substantially related to an important gov’t purpose Rostker v. Goldberg (1981) excluding women from the military draft based on that women are barred from combat Rational Scrutiny 3) • • • Laws based on wealth, disability and age must be based on “rationality” The person challenging a law must show a lack of rationality In Stanton v. Stanton (1975) the Supreme Court overturned a law in Utah that required divorced fathers to support their sons until age 21, but only until 18 for their daughters. The SC overturned the rationality that men married later so needed support longer The 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause applies only to the states. The 5th Amendment contains an equal protection clause that applies to the federal government. (Hirabayashi v. US -1943) Both require the government to treat people fairly. Since then, people can challenge their government when they believe they were deprived of equal protection of the law Affirmative Action Should laws give preference to certain groups that historically be denied equal opportunities “reverse discrimination” Gender based laws (is intermediate scrutiny enough) “Discrete and Insular Minorities” Mentally handicapped, children of illegal aliens, gays & lesbians Should they be treated differently as a group because of prejudice against them 1) 2) 3) What was the “separate but equal” doctrine? How did the Supreme Court justify the doctrine in “separate but equal?” What arguments did the Court use in Brown v. Board of Education to abandon the “separate but equal” doctrine it had endorsed in Plessy v. Ferguson? How has the equal protection clause been interpreted since 1954?