The supreme law of the land in the United States is the U.S. Constitution, as well as federal laws pursuant to it and treaties made under the authority of the United States. Thus, courts wield great power when they interpret constitutional provisions. Some common themes in this area include the balance between the states and the federal government, the separation of powers among branches of government, and the extent to which the government can regulate private conduct or treat different groups of people differently. Below is an outline of key cases in constitutional law with links to the full text of virtually every case, provided free by Justia.
Courts have the ability to strike down a legislative or executive action if it violates the Constitution. The power of judicial review also allows the Supreme Court to review decisions by state courts in civil and criminal cases that involve the Constitution or other federal laws.
Marbury v. Madison 一 If courts are to regard the Constitution, and the Constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the legislature, the Constitution rather than such ordinary act must govern the case to which they both apply. A law repugnant to the Constitution is void.
Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee 一 The appellate power of the United States must extend to state tribunals when they take cognizance of cases arising under the Constitution and the laws and treaties of the United States.
Cohens v. Virginia 一 A case arising under the Constitution or laws of the United States is cognizable in the Courts of the Union, whoever may be the parties to that case.
Cooper v. Aaron 一 State officials have a duty to obey federal court orders resting on the Supreme Court’s considered interpretation of the Constitution.
Dickerson v. U.S. 一 While Congress has ultimate authority to modify or set aside rules of evidence and procedure that are not constitutionally required, it may not supersede Supreme Court decisions interpreting and applying the Constitution.
Ex parte McCardle 一 While the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is conferred by the Constitution, rather than acts of Congress, it is conferred with such exceptions and under such regulations as Congress may make. Therefore, when Congress enacts that the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction over final decisions of the Circuit Courts in certain cases, the act operates as a negation or exception of such jurisdiction in other cases.
Michigan v. Long 一 If a state court decision indicates clearly and expressly that it is based on bona fide separate, adequate, and independent state grounds, the Supreme Court will not review the decision.
Justiciability and Political Questions
A court cannot issue a decision when a case is not ripe or is moot. Also, a court can hear a case only if the plaintiff has standing. Courts must not hear cases involving political questions that are properly left to other branches of government.
Hayburn’s Case 一 In general, judges should be extremely cautious in not intimating an opinion in any case extrajudicially.
FEC v. Akins 一 The fact that the harm at issue is widely shared does not deprive Congress of constitutional power to authorize its vindication in federal courts when the harm is concrete.
Raines v. Byrd 一 For standing, a plaintiff’s complaint must establish that they have a personal stake in the alleged dispute and that the alleged injury suffered is particularized to them.
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife 一 A plaintiff claiming only a generally available grievance about government, unconnected with a threatened concrete interest of their own, does not state an Article III case or controversy. (Standing requires an injury in fact that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant and that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision.)
Massachusetts v. EPA 一 A litigant to whom Congress has accorded a procedural right to protect their concrete interests can assert that right without meeting all the normal standards for redressability and immediacy.
Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins 一 Article III standing requires a concrete injury even in the context of a statutory violation. This does not mean, however, that the risk of real harm cannot satisfy the requirement of concreteness.
TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez 一 Only plaintiffs concretely harmed by a defendant’s statutory violation have Article III standing to seek damages against that private defendant in federal court.
Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski 一 A request for nominal damages satisfies the redressability element necessary for Article III standing when a plaintiff’s claim is based on a completed violation of a legal right.
Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. 一 Generally, a federal taxpayer’s interest in seeing that Treasury funds are spent in accordance with the Constitution is too attenuated to give rise to the kind of redressable “personal injury” required for Article III standing.
Bond v. U.S. 一 An individual had standing to challenge a federal law on the ground that it interfered with the powers reserved to states.
Hollingsworth v. Perry 一 Article III standing demands that an actual controversy persist throughout all stages of litigation.
Pacific States Tel. & Tel. Co. v. Oregon 一 The enforcement of the constitutional provision that the United States shall guarantee to every state a republican form of government is of a political character and exclusively committed to Congress, so it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts.
Coleman v. Miller 一 In determining whether a question falls within the category of political non-justiciable questions, the appropriateness of attributing finality to the action of the political departments and the lack of satisfactory criteria for a judicial determination are dominant considerations.
Baker v. Carr 一 Prominent on the surface of any case held to involve a political question is found a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department, a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it, the impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for non-judicial discretion, the impossibility of a court’s undertaking independent resolution without expressing lack of the respect due coordinate branches of government, an unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made, or the potentiality of embarrassment from multifarious pronouncements by various departments on one question.
Powell v. McCormack 一 Federal courts may interpret the Constitution in a manner at variance with the construction given the document by another branch. This does not violate the political question doctrine.
Goldwater v. Carter 一 A question is political and non-justiciable when it involves the authority of the President in the conduct of foreign relations and the extent to which the Senate or the Congress is authorized to negate the action of the President.
Nixon v. U.S. 一 A lack of judicially manageable standards may strengthen the conclusion that there is a textually demonstrable commitment to a coordinate branch.
Rucho v. Common Cause 一 Partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.
Powers of Congress
Courts have broadly interpreted the Necessary and Proper Clause and the Spending Clause of the Constitution, allowing Congress to justify many actions under them. However, Congress cannot commandeer state legislative or executive branches to pursue its agenda, according to a series of Supreme Court cases discussing federalism principles.
McCulloch v. Maryland 一 Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the Constitution, and all means that are appropriate, plainly adapted to that end, not prohibited, and consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution are constitutional.
U.S. v. Comstock 一 In determining whether the Necessary and Proper Clause authorizes a particular federal statute, there must be “means-ends rationality” between the enacted statute and the source of federal power.
U.S. v. Butler 一 The power of taxation, which is expressly granted to Congress, may be adopted as a means to carry into operation another power also expressly granted, but not to effectuate an end that is not within the scope of the Constitution.
Steward Machine Co. v. Davis 一If a power akin to undue influence may be exerted by the national government on the states, the location of the point at which pressure turns into compulsion and ceases to be inducement would be a question of degree.
South Dakota v. Dole 一 The exercise of the spending power must be in pursuit of the general welfare. If Congress desires to condition the states’ receipt of federal funds, it must do so unambiguously, enabling the states to exercise their choice knowingly, cognizant of the consequences of their participation. Conditions on federal grants must be related to a national concern.
NFIB v. Sebelius 一 The individual health insurance mandate under the Affordable Care Act was a permissible use of Congress’ taxing power, but the way in which the ACA conditioned all Medicaid funding on states’ compliance with a significant expansion was not a valid use of Congress’ spending power.
Missouri v. Holland 一 Treaties made under the authority of the United States, along with the Constitution and laws of the United States made in pursuance thereof, are the supreme law of the land.
U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton 一 The states can exercise no powers that exclusively spring out of the existence of the national government and that the Constitution does not delegate to them. A state cannot say that it has reserved what it never possessed.
New York v. U.S. 一 Congress may not commandeer the states’ legislative processes by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program, but instead it must exercise legislative authority directly upon individuals.
Printz v. U.S. 一 Congressional action compelling state officers to execute federal laws is unconstitutional. The federal government’s power would be augmented immeasurably and impermissibly if it were able to impress into its service, and at no cost to itself, the police officers of the 50 states.
Murphy v. NCAA 一 Congress cannot issue direct orders to state legislatures, regardless of whether it is compelling a state to enact legislation or prohibiting a state from enacting new laws.
The Commerce Clause
The Commerce Clause allows Congress to regulate foreign and interstate commerce. Modern Commerce Clause decisions have allowed Congress to regulate the channels and instrumentalities of interstate commerce, as well as activities that substantially affect interstate commerce.
Gibbons v. Ogden 一 The power to regulate commerce does not stop at the external boundary of a state, although it does not extend to commerce that is completely internal.
Hammer v. Dagenhart 一 The manufacture of goods is not commerce, nor do the facts that they are intended for interstate commerce and are shipped in interstate commerce make their production a part of that commerce subject to the control of Congress.
NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. 一 Although activities may be intrastate in character when separately considered, if they have such a close and substantial relation to interstate commerce that their control is essential or appropriate to protect that commerce from burdens and obstructions, Congress has the power to exercise that control.
U.S. v. Darby 一 While manufacture is not interstate commerce, the shipment of manufactured goods interstate is interstate commerce, and the prohibition of such shipment by Congress is a regulation of interstate commerce.
Wickard v. Filburn 一 The fact that a certain party’s contribution to the demand for a commodity may be trivial by itself is not enough to remove them from the scope of federal regulation when their contribution, taken together with that of many others similarly situated, is far from trivial.
Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. U.S. 一 Prohibiting racial discrimination in places of public accommodation affecting commerce is a valid exercise of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause as applied to a place of public accommodation serving interstate travelers.
Katzenbach v. McClung 一 The power of Congress in the field of interstate commerce is broad and sweeping. When it keeps within its sphere and violates no express constitutional limitation, it has been the rule of the Supreme Court not to interfere.
U.S. v. Lopez 一 Congress may regulate the use of the channels of interstate commerce, regulate and protect the instrumentalities of interstate commerce (or persons or things in interstate commerce), and regulate activities that have a substantial relation to interstate commerce.
U.S. v. Morrison 一 Congress may not regulate non-economic, violent criminal conduct based solely on its aggregate effect on interstate commerce. The Constitution requires a distinction between what is national and what is local.
Gonzales v. Raich 一 Congress’ Commerce Clause authority includes the power to prohibit the local cultivation and use of marijuana in compliance with California law.
NFIB v. Sebelius 一 The Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to regulate commerce but not to compel it.
The Dormant Commerce Clause
With some exceptions, states generally cannot pass laws that discriminate against or impose undue burdens on interstate commerce. This prevents a state from boosting its economy by favoring businesses within its borders over competing out-of-state businesses that conduct business in the state.
City of Philadelphia v. New Jersey 一 Regardless of its purpose, a state cannot discriminate against articles of commerce coming from outside the state unless there is some reason, apart from their origin, to treat them differently.
Hughes v. Oklahoma 一 A court must inquire whether a challenged statute regulates evenhandedly with only incidental effects on interstate commerce, or discriminates against interstate commerce either on its face or in practical effect; whether the statute serves a legitimate local purpose; and, if so, whether alternative means could promote this local purpose as well without discriminating against interstate commerce.
Maine v. Taylor 一 If a state does not needlessly obstruct interstate trade or attempt to place itself in a position of economic isolation, it retains broad regulatory authority to protect the health and safety of its citizens and the integrity of its natural resources.
Bacchus Imports, Ltd. v. Dias 一 In the process of competition, no state may discriminatorily tax products manufactured in any other state, even if the burden of the tax is borne by in-state consumers.
West Lynn Creamery, Inc. v. Healy 一 A
state violated the Commerce Clause when it imposed an assessment on all fluid milk (including milk produced out of state) sold by dealers to retailers in the state and distributed the entire assessment to in-state dairy farmers.
Exxon Corp. v. Governor of Maryland 一 Interstate commerce is not subjected to an impermissible burden simply because an otherwise valid regulation causes some business to shift from one interstate supplier to another.
Reeves, Inc. v. Stake 一 Nothing in the purposes animating the Commerce Clause prohibits a state, in the absence of congressional action, from participating in the market and exercising the right to favor its own citizens over others.
South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. 一 State taxes will be sustained so long as they apply to an activity with a substantial nexus with the taxing state, are fairly apportioned, do not discriminate against interstate commerce, and are fairly related to the services that the state provides.
Separation of Powers
The structure of the U.S. government involves a separation of powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The Constitution generally does not permit any branch of government to exercise powers granted to another branch. For example, the President cannot make or repeal laws, while Congress cannot delegate too much of its legislative power.
Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer(Jackson concurrence) 一 When the President acts pursuant to an express or implied authorization of Congress, his authority is at its maximum, for it includes all that he possesses in his own right plus all that Congress can delegate. When the President acts in absence of either a congressional grant or denial of authority, he can only rely upon his independent powers, but there is a zone of twilight in which the President and Congress may have concurrent authority, or in which its distribution is uncertain. When the President takes measures incompatible with the express or implied will of Congress, his power is at its lowest ebb, for then he can rely only upon his own constitutional powers minus any constitutional powers of Congress over the matter.
Dames & Moore v. Regan 一 Long continued executive practice, of which Congress knows and in which it acquiesces, raises a presumption that presidential action has been taken pursuant to Congress’ consent.
Medellin v. Texas 一 The President has an array of political and diplomatic means available to enforce international obligations, but unilaterally converting a non-self-executing treaty into a self-executing treaty is not among them. The responsibility for transforming an international obligation arising from a non-self-executing treaty into domestic law falls to Congress.
INS v. Chadha 一 When an action taken by the House was essentially legislative in purpose and effect, it was subject to the procedural requirements of Article I, Section 7 for legislative action: passage by a majority of both Houses and presentation to the President.
U.S. v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. 一 In view of the delicacy of foreign relations and the power peculiar to the President in this regard, Congressional legislation that is to be made effective in the international field must often accord to the President a degree of discretion and freedom that would not be admissible if domestic affairs alone were involved.
Buckley v. Valeo 一 Any appointee exercising significant authority pursuant to the laws of the United States is an “Officer of the United States” and must be appointed in the manner prescribed by the Appointments Clause.
Humphrey’s Executor v. U.S. 一 The authority of Congress in creating quasi-legislative or quasi-judicial agencies to require their officers to act independently of executive control includes the power to fix the period during which they shall continue in office, and to forbid their removal except for cause in the meantime. (However, purely executive officers are inherently subject to the exclusive and illimitable power of removal by the President.)
Morrison v. Olson 一 Congress may place the power to appoint inferior executive officers outside the executive branch. Also, Congress may impose a good cause-type restriction on the President’s power to remove an official if this does not interfere with the President’s exercise of the executive power and their constitutionally appointed duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
Bowsher v. Synar 一 Under the constitutional principle of separation of powers, Congress cannot reserve for itself the power of removal of an officer charged with the execution of the laws except by impeachment.
NLRB v. Canning 一 The Recess Appointments Clause empowers the President to fill any existing vacancy during any Senate recess of sufficient length. The Senate is in session when it says that it is, provided that, under its own rules, it retains the capacity to transact Senate business.
Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board 一 The President may not be restricted in their ability to remove a principal officer, who is in turn restricted in their ability to remove an inferior officer, when that inferior officer determines the policy and enforces the laws of the United States. Multilevel protection from removal is contrary to Article II’s vesting of the executive power in the President.
Seila Law, LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 一 The precedents of Humphrey’s Executor and Morrison should not be extended to an independent agency that wields significant executive power and is run by a single individual who cannot be removed by the President unless certain statutory criteria are met. Such an agency lacks a foundation in historical practice and clashes with constitutional structure by concentrating power in a unilateral actor insulated from presidential control.
U.S. v. Nixon 一 Neither the doctrine of separation of powers nor the generalized need for confidentiality of high-level communications, without more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified presidential privilege of immunity from judicial process under all circumstances.
Mistretta v. U.S. 一 Congress did not violate the separation of powers principle by placing the U.S. Sentencing Commission in the judicial branch, requiring federal judges to serve on the Commission and to share their authority with non-judges, or empowering the President to appoint Commission members and to remove them for cause.
Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP 一 In assessing whether a subpoena directed at the President’s personal information is related to and in furtherance of a legitimate task of Congress, courts must take adequate account of the separation of powers principles at stake, including both the significant legislative interests of Congress and the unique position of the President. (The Court continued to list four non-exclusive considerations in this analysis.)
Privileges and Immunities
The Privileges and Immunities Clause provides that the citizens of each state are entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states. Courts have interpreted this clause narrowly.
Slaughterhouse Cases 一 The privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States are those that arise out of the nature and essential character of the national government, the provisions of the Constitution, or federal laws and treaties made in pursuance thereof.
Baldwin v. Fish & Game Commission of Montana 一 Only with respect to those privileges and immunities bearing upon the vitality of the nation as a single entity must a state treat all citizens, resident and non-resident, equally.
Building Trades & Construction Trades Council v. Mayor of Camden 一 The fact that an ordinance is a municipal rather than state law does not place it outside the scope of the Privileges and Immunities Clause. The constitutional standard requires determination of whether the ordinance burdens one of the privileges and immunities protected by the Clause and, if so, whether there is a substantial reason for the discrimination against citizens of other states.
Saenz v. Roe 一 The right of newly arrived citizens to the same privileges and immunities enjoyed by other citizens of their new state is protected by the new arrival’s status as both a state citizen and a United States citizen, and it is plainly identified in the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause.
Economic Rights Under the Constitution
Courts historically restricted the power of the government to impose economic regulations. More recently, courts have retreated from this view and applied a deferential standard of review to economic regulations.
Lochner v. New York 一 The general right to make a contract in relation to one’s business is part of the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, and this includes the right to purchase and sell labor, except as controlled by the state in the legitimate exercise of its police power.
Muller v. Oregon 一 The regulation of the working hours of women falls within the police power of the state, and a statute directed exclusively to such regulation does not conflict with the Due Process or Equal Protection Clauses.
Nebbia v. New York 一 The Due Process Clause conditions the exertion of regulatory power by requiring that the end shall be accomplished by methods consistent with due process, that the regulation shall not be unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious, and that the means selected shall have a real and substantial relation to the object sought to be attained.
West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish 一 A restraint or regulation of the liberty to contract is due process if it is reasonable in relation to its subject and adopted for the protection of the community against evils menacing the health, safety, morals, and welfare of the people.
U.S. v. Carolene Products Co. 一 Regulatory legislation affecting ordinary commercial transactions is not unconstitutional unless it is of such a character as to preclude the assumption that the law rests on a rational basis within the knowledge and experience of the legislature. (Footnote 4 laid the foundation for heightened scrutiny in certain situations involving fundamental rights, the political process, and racial or religious minorities.)
Williamson v. Lee Optical, Inc. 一 The Due Process Clause no longer should be used to strike down state laws regulatory of business and industrial conditions because they may be unwise, improvident, or out of harmony with a particular school of thought.
Privacy and Other Fundamental Rights
The Constitution does not explicitly provide for a right to privacy, However, courts have held that this is a fundamental right implied by several amendments in the Bill of Rights. Strict scrutiny applies when a law restricts a fundamental right. The government generally must prove that a law is narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest.
Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson 一 Marriage and procreation are fundamental to the very existence and survival of the race. Thus, strict scrutiny of the classification that a state makes in a sterilization law is essential.
Moore v. City of East Cleveland 一 When the government intrudes on choices concerning family living arrangements, the usual deference to the legislature is inappropriate, and the Court must examine carefully the importance of the governmental interests advanced and the extent to which they are served by the challenged regulation.
Griswold v. Connecticut 一 A state law forbidding the use of contraceptives violates the right of marital privacy, which is within the penumbra of specific guarantees of the Bill of Rights.
Eisenstadt v. Baird 一 If the distribution of contraceptives to married persons cannot be prohibited, a ban on distribution to unmarried persons would be equally impermissible, since the constitutionally protected right of privacy inheres in the individual, rather than the marital couple.
Roe v. Wade 一 The Due Process Clause protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman’s qualified right to terminate her pregnancy. Although the state cannot override that right, it has legitimate interests in protecting both the pregnant woman’s health and the potentiality of human life, each of which interests grows and reaches a compelling point at various stages of the woman’s approach to term.
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization 一 The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey are overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.
Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Dept. of Health 一 The Constitution does not forbid a state from requiring that evidence of an incompetent person’s wishes as to the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment be proved by clear and convincing evidence.
Washington v. Glucksberg 一 A “right” to assistance in committing suicide is not a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause.
Vacco v. Quill 一 A state does not violate the Equal Protection Clause by banning assisted suicide while permitting patients to refuse medical treatment.
Lawrence v. Texas 一 The liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to choose to enter upon relationships in the confines of their homes and their own private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons.
Obergefell v. Hodges 一 The Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed outside the state.
Procedural Due Process
The government cannot deprive an individual of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. This often requires notice and an opportunity to be heard. A property interest usually exists when an individual has a legitimate claim of entitlement.
Mathews v. Eldridge 一 Identifying the specific dictates of due process generally requires considering three factors: the private interest that will be affected by the official action; the risk of an erroneous deprivation of that interest through the procedures used, and the probable value of additional or substitute procedural safeguards; and the government’s interest, including the function involved and the fiscal and administrative burdens that the additional or substitute procedural requirement would entail.
Goldberg v. Kelly 一 A pre-termination evidentiary hearing is necessary to provide a recipient of welfare benefits with procedural due process. The interest of an eligible recipient in the uninterrupted receipt of public assistance, coupled with the state’s interest in not erroneously terminating their payments, clearly outweighs the state’s competing concern to prevent any increase in its fiscal and administrative burdens.
Ingraham v. Wright 一 The Due Process Clause does not require notice and a hearing prior to imposition of corporal punishment in public schools as that practice is authorized and limited by the common law.
The Equal Protection Clause prohibits the government from denying the equal protection of the laws to people in its jurisdiction. Courts have developed three standards of review for these cases: rational basis when there is no suspect or quasi-suspect classification, intermediate scrutiny for a quasi-suspect classification, and strict scrutiny for a suspect classification.
Minnesota v. Clover Leaf Creamery Co. 一 The Equal Protection Clause does not deny a state the authority to ban one type of milk container conceded to cause environmental problems merely because another already established type is permitted to continue in use.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture v. Moreno 一 A legislative classification cannot be sustained if it is clearly irrelevant to the stated purposes of the law and does not rationally further any other legitimate government interest.
Plessy v. Ferguson 一 A law that authorizes or even requires the separation of the two races in public conveyances is not unreasonable. (This decision was overturned by Brown v. Board of Education.)
Korematsu v. U.S. 一 All legal restrictions that curtail the civil rights of a single racial group are immediately suspect and must be subjected to the most rigid scrutiny. However, pressing public necessity may sometimes justify the existence of such restrictions.
Hernandez v. Texas 一 When the existence of a distinct class is demonstrated, and it is shown that the laws, as written or as applied, single out that class for different treatment not based on some reasonable classification, the guarantees of the Constitution have been violated.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka 一 Segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race deprives children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities, even if the physical facilities and other tangible factors may be equal.
Loving v. Virginia 一 A statutory scheme to prevent marriages between persons solely on the basis of racial classifications violates the Fourteenth Amendment.
Frontiero v. Richardson 一 A statute was unconstitutional when it provided that spouses of male members of the uniformed services would be considered dependents, but spouses of female members would not be considered dependents unless they were in fact dependent for over one-half of their support.
Craig v. Boren 一 Classifications by gender must serve important governmental objectives and must be substantially related to the achievement of those objectives.
U.S. v. Virginia 一 Parties who seek to defend gender-based government action must demonstrate an exceedingly persuasive justification for that action. The justification must be genuine and must not rely on overly broad generalizations about the different talents, capacities, or preferences of males and females.
Michael M. v. Superior Court 一 A statute will be upheld when the gender classification is not invidious but instead realistically reflects the fact that the sexes are not similarly situated in certain circumstances.
Ambach v. Norwick 一 Some state functions are so bound up with the operation of the state as a governmental entity as to permit the exclusion from those functions of all persons who have not become part of the process of self-government.
Mathews v. Lucas 一 The judicial scrutiny traditionally devoted to cases involving discrimination along lines of race or national origin is not required when legislation treats legitimate and illegitimate offspring differently.
City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc. 一 Requiring a special use permit for a proposed group home for mentally retarded people violated equal protection. Although the mentally retarded, as a group, are different from those who occupy other facilities that are permitted in the zoning area in question without a special permit, such difference is irrelevant unless the proposed group home would threaten the city’s legitimate interests in a way that the permitted uses would not.
Romer v. Evans 一 The Equal Protection Clause does not permit a status-based classification of persons undertaken for its own sake. Thus, a state constitutional amendment violated the Equal Protection Clause when it precluded all legislative, executive, or judicial action at any level of state or local government designed to protect the status of persons based on their homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices, or relationships.
Bush v. Gore 一 The use of standardless manual recounts after a presidential election violated the Equal Protection Clause.
Grutter v. Bollinger 一 The narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body is not prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause.
Fisher v. University of Texas 一 Strict scrutiny must be applied to any university admissions program using racial categories or classifications. Once the university has established that its goal of diversity is consistent with strict scrutiny, the university must prove that the means that it chose to attain that diversity are narrowly tailored to its goal.
Village of Willowbrook v. Olech 一 The Equal Protection Clause gives rise to a cause of action on behalf of a "class of one" when the plaintiff does not allege membership in a class or group, but alleges that they have been intentionally treated differently from others similarly situated and that there is no rational basis for such treatment.
This outline has been compiled by the Justia team for solely educational purposes and should not be treated as an independent source of legal authority or a summary of the current state of the law. Students should use this outline as a supplement rather than a substitute for course-specific outlines.