Strict Scrutiny


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Strict Scrutiny

A standard of Judicial Review for a challenged policy in which the court presumes the policy to be invalid unless the government can demonstrate a compelling interest to justify the policy.

The strict scrutiny standard of judicial review is based on the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Federal courts use strict scrutiny to determine whether certain types of government policies are constitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has applied this standard to laws or policies that impinge on a right explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution, such as the right to vote. The Court has also identified certain rights that it deems to be fundamental rights, even though they are not enumerated in the Constitution.

The strict scrutiny standard is one of three employed by the courts in reviewing laws and government policies. The rational basis test is the lowest form of judicial scrutiny. It is used in cases where a plaintiff alleges that the legislature has made an Arbitrary or irrational decision. When employed, the Rational Basis Test usually results in a court upholding the constitutionality of the law, because the test gives great deference to the legislative branch. The heightened scrutiny test is used in cases involving matters of discrimination based on sex. As articulated in Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190, 97 S. Ct. 451, 50 L. Ed. 2d 397 (1976), "classifications by gender must serve important governmental objectives and must be substantially related to the achievement of those objectives."

Strict scrutiny is the most rigorous form of judicial review. The Supreme Court has identified the right to vote, the right to travel, and the right to privacy as fundamental rights worthy of protection by strict scrutiny. In addition, laws and policies that discriminate on the basis of race are categorized as suspect classifications that are presumptively impermissible and subject to strict scrutiny.

Once a court determines that strict scrutiny must be applied, it is presumed that the law or policy is unconstitutional. The government has the burden of proving that its challenged policy is constitutional. To withstand strict scrutiny, the government must show that its policy is necessary to achieve a compelling state interest. If this is proved, the state must then demonstrate that the legislation is narrowly tailored to achieve the intended result.

The case of roe v. wade, 410 U.S. 113, 93 S. Ct. 705, 35 L. Ed. 2d 147 (1973), which invalidated state laws that prohibited Abortion, illustrates the application of strict scrutiny. The Court held that the right to privacy is a fundamental right and that this right "is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy." Based on these grounds, the Court applied strict scrutiny. The state of Texas sought to proscribe all abortions and claimed a compelling State Interest in protecting unborn human life. Though the Court acknowledged that this was a legitimate interest, it held that the interest does not become compelling until that point in pregnancy when the fetus becomes "viable" (capable of "meaningful life outside the mother's womb"). The Court held that a state may prohibit abortion after the point of viability, except in cases where abortion is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother, but the Texas law was not narrowly tailored to achieve this objective. Therefore, the state did not meet its Burden of Proof and the law was held unconstitutional.

Cross-references

Civil Rights; Equal Protection; Sex Discrimination; Voting.

References in classic literature ?
Yet he did not leave a foot of this granite wall, as impenetrable as futurity, without strict scrutiny; he did not see a fissure without introducing the blade of his hunting sword into it, or a projecting point on which he did not lean and press in the hopes it would give way.
(35) In cases involving economic regulation, challenged statutes are presumed constitutional, and the distinctions must "bear some rational relationship to a conceivable legitimate state purpose." (36) Statutes that involve "suspect classifications" or that touch on "fundamental interests" must survive strict scrutiny, where the state has the burden of establishing that there is a compelling interest for the law and that the distinctions are necessary to further its purpose.
When considering whether a law that violates a fundamental right is constitutional, the courts apply a doctrine called "strict scrutiny."
Each policy must be approved by the school's governing board of regents, and will probably face strict scrutiny from gun rights advocates and opponents of the law.
Chief Justice Roberts rejected claims by the Bar and some amici that the court should apply the looser "closer scrutiny" standard instead of the "strict scrutiny" standard for state regulation of the First Amendment, saying that Canon 7C(1) met the strict scrutiny standard.
In the affirmative action context, the Court's constitutional standards for reviewing affirmative action--still arguably hospitable to the race liberals' preferred intermediate scrutiny standard at the time that Palmore was decided--would turn first tentatively, and then decisively, toward strict scrutiny review.
'You are under strict scrutiny and you must deliver knowing that you are the government's eyes on the ground.
Loan takers who will benefit from the government Estia scheme to help repay their housing loans will be under strict scrutiny and face repossession in case they don't stick to their part of the deal, it was revealed on Tuesday.
Since the court ruled the right to choose was a fundamental right, any challenges to legal abortions must be evaluated under the strict scrutiny standard, the highest degree of review in American jurisprudence.
Tambungan said he formed the unit last Monday and all its members underwent strict scrutiny by the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) intelligence division and the Directorate for Intelligence of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
However, Carreon said the retired PDEA dogs will not be easily allowed to be adopted without the strict scrutiny and screening of the would-be adopters.