1. Marbury v. Madison



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1. Frontiero v. Richardson, (1973); pg. 659, briefed 1/28/96
2. Facts: The military had a practice of automatically allowing a dependence for wives, but females had to show that their husband was actually a dependent before getting dependent benefits. The government rationale was that since most women’s husbands are not dependent, but most men’s wives were, it was administratively convenient to put the burden on the wife of showing dependence.
3. Procedural Posture: Unknown.
4. Issue: Whether the practice violates the equal protection clause.
5. Holding: Yes.
6. Majority Reasoning: Sex is a suspect class. The nation has a long history of using the physical differences of the sexes, and the traditional dominance of men in society, to discriminate against women arbitrarily. Even people of different races were given more equality than women, and race has been made a suspect class. Since the sex characteristic frequently bears no relationship to the ability to perform or contribute, it deserves strict scrutiny. No law which has its basis in administrative convenience can withstand strict scrutiny.
7. Concurrence Reasoning: [Powell] stated that it was unnecessary in this case to characterize sex as a suspect classification because it could be easily decided on the authority of Reed. Also, the equal rights amendment was still pending, and this would represent a judicial pre-emption of the legislative function.

1. Craig v. Boren, (1976); pg. 661, briefed 1/28/96
2. Facts: A Oklahoma statute provides for a minimum age to purchase 3.5% beer differently for males than for females. For females, the age is 18, but for males, the age is 21. The state has statistics that, if valid, tend to show that more males in the 18-20 range than females in the 18-20 range are arrested for drunk driving. Thus, their rationale for the rule is that it is a necessary protection of public safety.
3. Procedural Posture: Unknown.
4. Issue: Whether the law violates the equal protection clause, i.e. whether the difference between males and females with respect to the purchase of 3.2% beer does not justify the differential treatment by the Oklahoma statute.
5. Holding: Yes.
6. Majority Reasoning: Reed and Fornteiro stand for the proposition that classification by gender must serve “important governmental objectives” and must be “substantially related” to the achievement of those objectives. The purpose of increasing traffic safety is certainly “important” and valid. However, there relationship between the classification and the objective is not sufficiently “substantial.” The statistical evidence presented is statistically invalid because it rests on too many assumptions which have not been proven. Also, even given their correctness, they do not justify differential treatment because of their close results. There is an inherent difficulty (i.e. too many uncontrollable variables) in using statistical evidence to make broad social classifications.
7. Concurrence Reasoning: [Powell] felt that the announcement of the new intermediate standard was not necessary because the case was easily decidable on the “fair and substantial” relation standard of Reed. [Stevens] objected to the classification because it was based on an “accident of birth,” and because it is easily circumvented (i.e. the female can buy the alcohol). It also punishes the 100% of the male population between 18-20 when the statistics only show that 2% need punishment.
8. Dissent Reasoning: [Rehnquist] felt that the new standard was without authority, and also that the previous cases were not on point because they involved women seeking relief (as the discriminated party), rather than men. The justification for Reed was that women were a discrete and insular class. Men have no such problem. Thus, this should only be given the “rational basis” test. The legislature has not been irrational or arbitrary in their actions because they were acting on the best statistical information they had.
1. Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan, (1982); pg. 671, briefed 2/6/96
2. Facts: A state-sponsored Mississippi college was all female, and had an all female nursing school. Hogan was a man who lived in the college community, was a registered nurse, and desired to attend the school to pursue a degree. The school denied his request, and permitted him only to attend the classes on an audit basis. The state’s justification was that the school compensated for discrimination against women, and was “educational affirmative action.”
3. Procedural Posture: Unknown.
4. Issue: Whether the college’s policy of excluding males is a violation of equal protection.
5. Holding: Yes.
6. Majority Reasoning: [O’Connor] stated that the heightened level of scrutiny applied in Craig was applicable here. The fact that it discriminated against males and not females did not matter. The standard was that “important governmental objectives” must be legitimate, and the classification must be “substantially related to the acheivement of those objectives.” If the state objectives are based on sexual stereotypes, they are illegitimate. Here, there was no sexual discrimination to protect against, because the nursing profession was 90%+ women. Also, the classification was not substantially related to the purpose, because the presence of male students on an auditing basis, whether they got credit or not, changed the “environment” of the school, so it was not necessary to withhold credit for males in order to accomplish the school’s educational goals.
7. Dissent Reasoning: [Powell] The rational basis test should have been applied here because there was no sex discrimination. It is only an additional choice for women, not a denial of choice for men. There are distinct advantages to segregation of sexes in higher education, and this simply represents the consensual choice of the participants.
1. Geduldig v. Aiello, (1974); pg. 675, briefed 2/6/96
2. Facts: California had a disability insurance plan that did not cover pregnancy.
3. Procedural Posture: Unknown.
4. Issue: Whether failing to provide disability insurance for pregnancy is a violation of equal protection.
5. Holding: No.
6. Majority Reasoning: The classification was not based on gender, as such. Thus, the rational basis standard is applicable. Although California has chosen to provide disability insurance, it has not chosen to pass on the expense of pregnancy to the whole state of employees. Under equal protection, the state can choose to do things one at a time. The state has a legitimate interest in keeping the cost of insurance down. There is no invidious discrimination here because the lawmakers have divided the state into two classifications, pregnant females, and non-pregnant persons. As such, both males and females are benefitted.
7. Dissent Reasoning: Dissimilar treatment of men and women based on physical characteristics tied to one sex is sex discrimination. Thus, the standard should have been the strict scrutiny of Frontiero. The state’s interest in preserving the fiscal integrity of the insurance program can nt render the states’ use of a suspect classification constitutional.
8. Notes: In Caban v. Mohammed, the court invalidated a New York law granting the mother but not the father of an illegitimate child the right to block the child’s adoption by withholding consent, by using the “intermediate” sex discrimination standard. The classifications were overbroad generalizations based on stereotypes of unwed mothers being closer to children than their fathers, and did not further the state’s interest in promoting adoption. However, the dissent [Stewart] stated that men and women were not similarly situated here, and so there was no equal protection violation. Also, in Parham v. Hughes, Stewart made the same analysis (in the majority this time) to reject a sex discrimination suit on a Georgia law that did not allow an illegitimate father the bring a wrongful death action for the death of his illegitimate child, reasoning that mothers and fathers of illegitimate children are not similarly situated.
1. Graham v. Richardson, (1971); pg. 681, briefed 2/7/96
2. Facts: A state law prohibited aliens from receiving welfare. The state justfication was their interest in preserving the minimal welfare resources for their own citizens.
3. Procedural Posture: Unknown.
4. Issue: Whether denial of welfare benefits to aliens is a violation of equal protection.
5. Holding: Yes.
6. Majority Reasoning: Classifications based on alienage are inherently suspect. Aliens are a prime example of a “discrete and insular” class. [But see Rehnquist’s dissent stating that alienage is not an immutable characteristic]. Also, the federal government has the supreme power to regulate the conduct of aliens - i.e. immigration, naturalization, and conduct before naturalization. Thus, there is an overriding federal interest in preempting this field.
7. Notes: In In Re Griffiths, the court struck down a Conn. law providing that only U.S. citizens could practice law there; and in Sugarman v. Dougall, struck down a New York law providing that only citizens could hold permanent civil service positions. However, Justice Blackmun added that the state does have some power, in an appropriate situation, to require citizenship as a prerequisite for office.
1. Foley v. Connelie, (1978); pg. 682, briefed 2/7/96
2. Facts: New York had a law barring aliens from becoming state troopers.
3. Issue: Whether the law barring aliens from becoming state troopers was a violation of equal protection.
4. Holding: No.
5. Reasoning: Dougall carved out an exception to the strict scrutiny for alienage-based state classifications - i.e., where the power the state is exercising is clearly within its “governmental function” or “political function.” Otherwise, there would be no benefit to citizenship. Thus, in these cases, rational relationship is the appropriate standard. Since police officers exercise a very broad discretion in enforcement of laws, it would be as anomolous to say that a citizen could be exposed to the broad discretion of a non-citzen police officer as it would be to say that judges and juries can be made up of aliens. Thus, citizenship bears a rational relationship to law enforcement.
6. Notes: In Amach v. Norwick, the court applied the Dougall exception and Foley to hold that a state may refuse to employ teachers who are eligible for naturalization, but refuse it, stating that less demanding scrutiny is required where aliens are excluded from “state functions” that were part of the state’s “governmental function.”
1. Bernal v. Fainter, (1984); pg. 683, briefed 2/7/96
2. Facts: Texas had a state law barring aliens from becoming notaries public.
3. Issue: Whether the bar was a violation of equal protection.
4. Holding: Yes.
5. Reasoning: Generally, alienage is a suspect classification, which can only pass strict scrutiny if there are compelling state interests and the classification is the least restrictive means available. The only narrow exception was the Dougall case, where the exclusion is from the state’s “governmental function” or “political function.” To determine this exception, a two-part test is used. First, the classification must not be too under- or over-inclusive. Second, the exclusion must only apply to “persons holding state elective or important nonelective executive, legislative and judicial positions,” i.e. those that “participate directly in the formulation, execution, or review of broad public policy.” This is a very narrow exception. Notaries public do not fall within the “political function” exception, because their duties are “clerical and ministerial” rather than the exercise of broad discretion or policy.
6. Notes: Federal restrictions on aliens were addressed in Hampton v. Mow Sun Wong (invalidating a federal bar on aliens holding competitive civil service positions), and Mathews v. Diaz, (upholding a restriction on alien eligibility for federal Medicare conditioned on (a) admission for permanent residence, and (b) continuous residence in the U.S. for five years.)
1. Levy v. Louisiana, (1968); pg. 688, briefed 2/7/96
2. Facts: A state law prohibited unacknowleged illegitimate children the right to recover for the wrongful death of their mother. The state justification was administrative simplification of proceedings by relying on “formal papers.”
3. Issue: Whether the law violated equal protection.
4. Holding: Yes.
5. Majority Reasoning: [Douglas] The test is rational basis, but the court has been extremely sensitive when it comes to basic civil rights. There is no reason that the tortfeasor should go unpunished just because the mother had illegitimate children rather than legitimate ones. It is invidious to discriminate against the illegitimate child when his characteristics have no relation whatsoever to the nature of the harm inflicted on the mother.
6. Dissent Reasoning: [Harlan] The interest that one person has in another’s life is inherently intractable. Thus, the state may justifiably and rationally define eligible wrongful death plaintiffs in terms of their legal, rather than biological relation to the deceased.
7. Notes: Three years later in Labine v. Vincent, the court distinguished Levy, and upheld a law, under the rational basis test, that subordinated the intestate succession rights of an acknowleged illegitimate child to those of other relatives of the parent. However, the court followed Levy in Weber where the death benefits from a workmen’s compensation law could not be subordinated to the claims of legitimate children. In Matthew v. Lucas the court upheld a social security benefits law which made benefits harder to get for surviving illegitimate children, distinguishing all prior illegitimacy cases, and stating that illegitimacy was not “an obvious badge” like race or sex.
1. Mills v. Habluetzel, (1982); pg. 691, briefed 2/7/96
2. Facts: A Texas law required that a paternity suit to identify the natural father of an illegitimate child for the purpose of obtaining child support must be brought before the child was one year old. The nominal state purpose was to prevent fraudulent claims later in life by the children.
3. Issue: Whether the law violated equal protection.
4. Holding: Yes.
5. Majority Reasoning: [Rehnquist]The support opportunity provided by the state [i.e. benefits depend on a paternity hearing] must be more than illusory. The law must bear a “substantial relationship to a legitimate state interest.” The period for ascertaining the fatherhood of the child must be sufficiently long to permit those who have an interest in the child to bring an action on their behalf despite the personal difficulties that may surround the birth of a child outside of wedlock. Also, the time limit set does not have a rational relationship to the state purpose of preventing fraudulent claims.
6. Concurrence Reasoning: [O’Connor] feared that the majority opinion might be read as approving an arbitrarily longer time limit (such as four years). Thus, she stated that the practical considerations that existed within the first year, which served to make the one year statute of limitations invalid, may also exist for longer periods, which would make them also invalid.
7. Notes: The court struck down a two-year limit on paternity suits in Clark v. Jeter. Finally, in Clark v. Jeter, Justice O’Connor stated that the “intermediate” level of scrutiny is applicable to illegitimacy [“substantially related to an important governmental objective”], and struck down a 6-year limit on bringing paternity actions because it was not “substantially related” to the state interest in avoiding the litigation of stale or fraudulent claims.

1. Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc., (1985); pg. 694, briefed 2/11/96
2. Facts: A texas city denied a special use permit to a person who intended to build a 200-person home for the mentally retarded. A city ordinance gave the city the power to require a special use permit for homes for mentally retarded persons, but not for other classifications, such as boarding houses, sanitariums, nursing homes, etc. The city’s rationale was that the neighboring property owners did not want it, a junior high school was across the street, it was located on a 500 year flood plain, and there would be a lot of people living there.
3. Procedural Posture: The lower court struck it down under the “intermediate” level of review, stating that it did not “substantially” furhter an “important governmental interest.”
4. Issue: Whether the ordinance requiring a special use permit hearing for establishment of mentally retarded care homes violates equal protection, and under what standard.
5. Holding: Yes. Rational basis.
6. Majority Reasoning: [White] The general rule for equal protection is rational basis. The mentally retarded are not a class that require heightened scrutiny because they are 1. not a homogenous group, 2. they are specially protected in many ways by the legislature, and 3. most laws concerning the mentally retarded are likely to be beneficial and not based on prejudice. However, here the law appears to be motivated only by prejudice. The negative attitudes of the surrounding property owners are not a valid basis for discrimination. Also, there are no other distinguishing characteristics that are inherent to the retarded people that would require that they be treated differently with regard to the location of the home, or its size. Clearly, if other homes, such as those for the insane, or convalescent, are allowed in the same area, the law is not even rationally related to the city’s objectives because it is substantially underinclusive.
7. Concurrence Reasoning: [Stevens] felt that putting a name on the standard of review to be used was inappropriate because there is just a single continuum of standards. In some cases, certain characteristics are relevant, and in others, they are not. The court merely needs to ask what the purpose of the law is, and what the characteristics of the group are that justify the disparate treatment. [Marshall] felt that the standard should have been a heightened level of review, because of the tradition of discrimination, and the characteristic of mental retardation is often used as a proxy for reduced capacity. The majority should have admitted that it was using heightened scrutiny because this law would probably pass the extremely deferential rational basis standard of Lee Optical (i.e. “reform may take one step at a time” allows the city to require the special use permits for mentally retarded persons but not for other similar classes).
8. Notes: In James v. Valtierra, Justice Black’s majority opinion rejected an equal protection challenge to a California constitutional requirement that “no low rent housing project shall hereafter be developed by any state public body” without prior approval in local referendum. Even though the law had the practical effect of disadvantaging low-income persons, the law passed the rational basis standard. Marshall vigorously dissented stating that the law was on its face invidious discrimination against the poor, as suspect class which demanded exacting scrutiny.
1. Yick Wo v. Hopkins, (1886); pg. 704, briefed 2/11/96
2. Facts: A San Franscisco law required that laundries could not be operated in other than brick or stone buildings without approval by the city. All but one of 88 non-chinese applicants were granted approval to operate in a non-stone building. However, not a single one of 200 chinese applicants had been granted approval.
3. Procedural Posture: Unknown
4. Issue: Whether the statistically unequal administration of a facially neutral law is violation of equal protection when it operates to discriminate in practice against a racial minority.
5. Holding: Yes.
6. Reasoning: Statistics show that the application of this law was clearly discriminatory against chinese launderers. Even if the law is neutral on its face, it is a violation of equal protection to enforce it in an invidiously discriminatory manner.
7. Notes: In Swain v. Alabama, the court held that a prosecutor may use peremptory challenges to strike all black jurors from a jury, without violating equal protection unless a showing could be made that it was systematic discrimination. However, in Batson v. Kentucky, the court overruled Swain to hold that it was a violation of equal protection if it was based on the justification that blacks, as a class, would be unable to impartially consider the State’s case against a black defendant. Also, in Snowden v. Hughes, the court stated that “unequal application” of statutes fair on their face is not a violation of unequal protection “unless there is a showing of intentional or purposeful discrimination.”
1. Palmer v. Thompson, (1971); pg. 706, briefed 2/11/96
2. Facts: The city of Jackson, Mississippi, closed all of its public swimming pools after they had been ordered desegregated. The city’s purpose was that desegregation of the pools could not be done economically or efficiently.
3. Issue: Whether the closing of the pools was a violation of equal protection.
4. Holding: No.
5. Majority Reasoning: [Black] stated that there was no affirmative duty to operate swimming pools. The motivation of the persons who passed the law is difficult for the court to determine, and does not render the closing unconstitutional solely because it appears to be racially motivated. If this were the only reason, then the city could re-pass the law with a different purpose, which would then make it constitutional.
6. Dissent Reasoning: [White] felt that the closing of the pools was an official public policy statement by the city that blacks are unfit to associate with whites in public pools. Racial animus was the only motivation for this law, and it thus violated equal protection because it did not have the same affect on whites as it did on blacks.
7. Notes: In Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, the court struck down the school board’s attempt to shut down the public schools and support private schools only to avoid desegregation, holding that the motive was unconstitutional. Also, in Gomillion v. Lightfoot, the court struck down a redrawing of the city’s borders which had the effect of eliminating most black voters, an no white voters, holding that the motive, as well as the effect, was unconstitutional.
1. Griggs v. Duke Power Co., (1971); pg. 708, briefed 2/11/96
2. Facts: A company had an employment screening procedure that required the applicants to take a general intelligence test and have a high school diploma. The practical effect was that fewer blacks were being hired, and the standards were not shown to have a predictive affect on job performance.
3. Issue: Whether, in a Title VII case, the giving of general intelligence tests and requiring a high school diploma for employment are violations of equal protection if the practical result is to statistically exclude more blacks than whites, and the tests do not have a demonstrated predictive affect on job performance.


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