Strict scrutiny is applied to regulations that affect groups that fall under a "suspect classification." Intermediate scrutiny is applied to groups that fall under a "quasi-suspect classification." Rational basis scrutiny is applied to all other discriminatory statutes.
To be considered a suspect classification in the U.S. a group must meet all of the following criteria:
The Supreme Court has recognized that race, national origin, religion, and alienage are suspect classes, and therefore any laws discriminating against these classes are analyzed under strict scrutiny. Quasi-suspect class, with its intermediate scrutiny, it typically reserved for government sponsored discrimination on the basis of sex or legitimacy. Rational basis scrutiny covers all other discriminatory statues, i.e. disability, political peference or political affiliation or sexual orientation.
The pratical result of this legal doctrine is that government sponsored discrimination on the account of a citizen's race, skin color, ethnic or national origin or religion is, almost, always unconstitutional, unless it is a legitmate, narrowily tailored and temporary piece of legislation dealing with national security or defense or affirmative action.
Alienage is a unique class in that the class of illegal aliens is analyzed under intermediate scrutiny while the class of legal aliens is analyzed under strict scrutiny. Further, because the United States Congress has the power to regulate immigration, Federal statutes which discriminate on alienage are only afforded rational basis scrutiny. State statutes are analyzed according to the above distinction.
When intermediate scrutinty is involved, the courts are more likely to uphold the discriminatory law, particulary if its based on real, fact based, biological differencs between the sexes as opposed to sex-based sterotypes.
When rational basis scrutiny is used, the government is, essentially, being given broad authority to enact discriminatory laws against that particular class, i.e. crimianals. Yet the United States Supreme Court used rational basis scrutiny to strike down an anti-gay law in 1996 (Romer v. Evans), and did so again in 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas).
In reviewing discrimintary laws against Independent or minor political party-affiliated citizens, (i.e. ballot access, debate participation and bans on fusion) the high court has often claimed to be using strict or intermediate basis of scrutiny, but the result tends to show a level of defference to the government, normaly seen with rational basis scrutiny.
The Supreme Court's rulings impose a minimum standard that each State must adhere to. Hence, a State law that discriminates against a citizen because of their race, must be reviewed by the applicable State and inferior Federal courts using the strict scrutiny basis of review. A State may, generally, chose to give its citizens more rights or protections then the minimum standard. Hence, in 2008, the California Supreme Courts used the strict scrutiny basis of review to strike down a State law denying legal recognition of same-sex marriages.
Finding LGBTs a Suspect Class: Assessing the Political Power of LGBTs as a Basis for the Court's Application of Heightened Scrutiny
May 01, 2010; ABSTRACT In this Article I argue the U.S. Supreme Court should find lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons ("LGBTs") to...
In suit complaining of NSA's program of intercepting overseas communications with suspected al Qaeda members and affiliates, Sixth Circuit finds that Plaintiffs who communicated with Members of suspect class do not have standing to bring lawsuit.(National Security Agency)
Jun 01, 2007; After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the National Security Agency (NSA) began a counter-terrorism program known as...