Lesson 3
The Fourteenth Amendment and Equal Protection
 
. . . . No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law. Fourteenth Amendment Sec. 1.
 
Theme: The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments changed the Constitution in dramatic ways as a result of the Civil War. They abolished slavery, and gave the right to vote to the newly freed slaves, and attempted to guarantee to them equal treatment under the law by applying the fundamental rights of the Bill of Rights to the states and also giving to Congress the power to legislate on these rights for the states. In the Civil Rights Cases of 1883 a conservative Supreme Court, refused to read the 14th amendment this way and said that Congress could only correct state action that denied equal protection, or due process. In an earlier case the Court had also indicated that the 14th Amendment did not create new rights for individuals that states had to observe. The 14th Amendment illustrated that freedom is not found in just having law, you must also have the political institutions to enforce it. It wasn't until some sixty years later that the Court began to "selectively incorporate" fundamental rights under the "due process and liberty" clause and apply them to the states.
  Equal protection deals with proper classifications, for proper purposes of the state. Inherent in every equal protection
issue is also a due process question, does the classification reach the intended objective, and is the intended objective proper. The Court has gone on to say that some types of classifications are "suspect" and have a strong presumption against the state because they generally do not reach a proper governmental objective. The burden is left to the state to demonstrate that this classification is the only way to reach the objective. When the classification is not suspect, then the burden shifts to the individual to demonstrate that a reasonable person could not believe that the classification reaches a proper objective.
  Can the state sweep in the good with the bad to get at the bad? Can a state only deal with part of the problem and
leave the other part unregulated? Can it be selective in its classification of the bad, some of the bad but not all of the bad? These are the types of issues the Court faces in dealing with the issue of equality before the law.

 
Choper et al., Ch. 6, "Nature and Scope of Fourteenth Amendment Due Process: Applicability of the Bill of Rights to the States"
Choper et al., Ch. 12 "Equal Protection"
Case Briefs:
1.
Regents v. Bakke 98 S. Ct. 2733 (1978). 1047
2.
Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan 102 S. Ct. 3331 (1982), 1096
3.
Romer v. Evans 116 S. Ct. 1620 (1996), 1116
4.
Shaw v. Reno 113 S. Ct. 2816 (1993), 1159
   
 
Case Table
Lesson 3
The Fourteenth Amendment and Equal Protection

Case
Holding
Text
Comment Concept
Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1008 Slavery may not be prohibited in the territories of the U.S., this is a taking of property 5th Amendment The Missouri Compromise is Unconstitutional
Plessy v. Ferguson, 1011      
Brown v. Board of Education, 1019      
Regents v. Bakke, 1047      
U.S. v. Virginia, 1082      
Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan, 1096      
Bush v. Gore, 1154      
Shaw v. Reno, 1159      
San Antonio School District v. Rodriquez, 1190      
 
Legal Problem
Lesson 3
Fourteenth Amendment and Equal Protection
Frank v. Mary
 
The state of Georgia sued Frank for paternity and child support on behalf of Mary, the mother of a minor child. The state used 8 of its preemtory strikes to remove male jurors on the ground that research had proven that in cases involving child custody that their was a substantial difference between male and female jurors in the making of awards to mothers. The attorneys for Mary challenge these strikes as a violation of the equal protection of the laws.
1.
What issues are raised in this case?
2.
Which cases could serve as precedents, and which should be distinguished?
3.
How should the Court decide this case using which precedent, holding, and reasoning?
 
Home