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Judicial Review of Constitutional Violations

Supreme Court jurisprudence in the area of racial discrimination is often very confusing due to the terminology used when the Court reviews these cases. When the government classifies people differently, courts will employ various levels of scrutiny to determine whether that classification is constitutionally permissible. Many classifications are generally permissible, such as those classifications that differentiate on the basis of income for tax purposes. These classifications are presumed constitutional and will be upheld unless a party can prove that the government has no rational basis for its decision.

If a government entity makes a classification based on race, courts employ a heightened standard of review. These classifications are presumed to be unconstitutional and will be upheld only if the government can prove that the program is narrowly tailored to address a compelling government interest. Very few government programs that make racial classifications can satisfy strict scrutiny, including many affirmative action programs. The Court’s position in this area can shift as new justices join the Court.

Inside Judicial Review of Constitutional Violations