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Critical Thinking Question

Is there ever a circumstance in which the government should be allowed to treat people differently based upon ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, age, etc? Explain your reasoning.

Equal Protection of the Law
Unit 6

14th Amendment

Forbids any state to deny to any person the equal protection of the law Government cannot make unreasonable distinctions among different groups of people

Taxes on cigarettes

Whether a distinction or classification the government is making is “reasonable” or “unreasonable” is where 14th Amendment questions are made

Rational Basis Test

Supreme Courts asks themselves

Wisconsin v. Mitchell

Is the classification “reasonably related” to the goal of government?

Supreme court held up a state law that made criminals who commit “hate crimes” serve longer sentences.

Hate Crimes Discussion

Is prosecuting someone for committing a hate crime the same as prosecuting someone for their thoughts? Should this be allowed in America?

Rise Against Video

2 Exception to the Rational Basis Test

Suspect Classification Fundamental Rights

Suspect Classification

If the classification is based upon “race, ethnicity, or national origin” then the supreme court is going to be really strict. Only ok if the state shows, “some compelling public interest.”

Fundamental Rights

Fundamental Rights cannot be violated

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Right to travel freely between states Right to vote First Amendment Rights

Critical Thinking Question

If you invent a test and one group of people perform better on it than another, is that discrimination?

Proving Intent to Discriminate


When individuals are treated unfairly solely because of their race, gender, ethnic group, age, physical disability, religion, or sexual orientation.

Showing Intent to Discriminate

Washington v. David

To prove a state guilty of discrimination, one must prove that it was the state’s intention to discriminate when it took it’s action.

Struggle for Equal Rights

From 1860 to the 1950s the Supreme Court upheld laws that discriminated against race Plessey v. Ferguson (1896)

Made segregation legal

Separate but equal doctrine

Dissenting Opinion

Allowed for separate facilities for different races as long as those facilities were equal

“I deny that any legislative body or judicial tribunal may have regard to the race of citizens when the civil rights of those citizsens are involved . . . Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law” – Justice John Marshal Harlan, 1896

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

Established that Separate was NOT equal and overturned Plessy v. Ferguson

Civil Rights Movement

Since the Brown v. Board of Education decision many African Americans and whites have come together to end racial discrimination and segregation

Dr. Martin Luther King Malcolm X Equal voting rights and job opportunities Business and government are required to hire minorities based upon local population percentages

Civil Rights Act of 1964

Affirmative Action – adopted per state