Annotation 31 - Fourteenth Amendment

  SECTION 1. RIGHTS GUARANTEED: THE NEW EQUAL PROTECTION

  Classifications Meriting Close Scrutiny

  Alienage and Nationality .--''It has long been settled . . . that the term 'person' [in the equal protection clause] encompasses lawfully admitted resident aliens as well as citizens of the United States and entitles both citizens and aliens to the equal protection of the laws of the State in which they reside.'' 1 Thus, one of the earliest equal protection decisions struck down the administration of a facially-lawful licensing ordinance which was being applied to discriminate against Chinese. 2 But the Court in many cases thereafter recognized a permissible state interest in distinguishing between its citizens and aliens by restricting enjoyment of resources and public employment to its own citizens. 3 But in Hirabayashi v. United States, 4 it was announced that ''[d]istinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry'' was ''odius to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality.'' And in Korematsu v. United States, 5 classifications based upon race and nationality were said to be suspect and subject to the ''most rigid scrutiny.'' These dicta resulted in a 1948 decision which appeared to call into question the rationale of the ''particular interest'' doctrine under which earlier discriminations had been justified. There the Court held void a statute barring issuance of commerical fishing licenses to persons ''ineligible to citizenship,'' which in effect meant resident alien Japanese. 6 ''The Fourteenth Amendment and the laws adopted under its authority thus embody a general policy that all persons lawfully in this country shall abide 'in any state' on an equality of legal privileges with all citizens under nondiscriminatory laws.'' Justice Black said for the Court that ''the power of a state to apply its laws exclusively to its alien inhabitants as a class is confined within narrow limits.'' 7  

Announcing ''that classifications based on alienage . . . are inherently suspect and subject to close scrutiny,'' the Court struck down state statutes which either wholly disqualified resident aliens for welfare assistance or imposed a lengthy durational residency requirement on eligibility. 8 Thereafter, in a series of decisions, the Court adhered to its conclusion that alienage was a suspect classification and voided a variety of restrictions. More recently, however, it has created a major ''political function'' exception to strict scrutiny review, which shows some potential of displacing the previous analysis almost entirely.

In Sugarman v. Dougall, 9 the Court voided the total exclusion of aliens from a State's competitive civil service. A State's power ''to preserve the basic conception of a political community'' enables it to prescribe the qualifications of its officers and voters, 10 the Court held, and this power would extend ''also to persons holding state elective or important nonelective executive, legislative, and judicial positions, for officers who participate directly in the formulation, execution, or review of broad public policy perform functions that go to the heart of representative government.'' 11 But a flat ban upon much of the State's career public service, both of policy-making and non- policy-making jobs, ran afoul of the requirement that in achieving a valid interest through the use of a suspect classifica tion the State must employ means that are precisely drawn in light of the valid purpose. 12  

State bars against the admission of aliens to the practice of law were also struck down, the Court holding that the State had not met the ''heavy burden'' of showing that its denial of admission to aliens was necessary to accomplish a constitutionally permissible and substantial interest. The State's admitted interest in assuring the requisite qualifications of persons licensed to practice law could be adequately served by judging applicants on a case-by-case basis and in no sense could the fact that a lawyer is considered to be an officer of the court serve as a valid justification for a flat prohibition. 13 Nor could Puerto Rico offer a justification for excluding aliens from one of the ''common occupations of the community,'' hence its bar on licensing aliens as civil engineers was voided. 14  

In Nyquist v. Mauclet, 15 the Court seemed to expand the doctrine. Challenged was a statute that restricted the receipt of scholarships and similar financial support to citizens or to aliens who were applying for citizenship or who filed a statement affirming their intent to apply as soon as they became eligible. Therefore, since any alien could escape the limitation by a voluntary act, the disqualification was not aimed at aliens as a class, nor was it based on an immutable characteristic possessed by a ''discrete and insular minority''--the classification that had been the basis for declaring alienage a suspect category in the first place. But the Court voided the statute. ''The important points are that Sec. 661(3) is directed at aliens and that only aliens are harmed by it. The fact that the statute is not an absolute bar does not mean that it does not discriminate against the class.'' 16 Two proffered justifications were held insufficient to meet the high burden imposed by the strict scrutiny doctrine.

However, in the following Term, the Court denied that every exclusion of aliens was subject to strict scrutiny, ''because to do so would 'obliterate all the distinctions between citizens and aliens, and thus deprecate the historic values of citizenship.''' 17 Upholding a state restriction against aliens qualifying as state policemen, the Court reasoned that the permissible distinction between citizen and alien is that the former ''is entitled to participate in the processes of democratic decisionmaking. Accordingly, we have recognized 'a State's historic power to exclude aliens from participation in its democratic political institutions,' . . . as part of the sovereign's obligation '''to preserve the basic conception of a political community.''' 18 When a State acts thusly by classifying against aliens, its action is not subject to strict scrutiny but rather need only meet the rational basis test. It is therefore permissible to reserve to citizens offices having the ''most important policy responsibilities,'' a reservation drawn from Sugarman, but the critical factor in this case is the analysis finding that the police function is ''one of the basic functions of government.'' ''The execution of the broad powers vested'' in police officers ''affects members of the public significantly and often in the most sensitive areas of daily life. . . . Clearly the exercise of police authority calls for a very high degree of judgment and discretion, the abuse or misuse of which can have serious impact on individuals. The office of a policeman is in no sense one of 'the common occupations of the community'. . . .'' 19  

Continuing to enlarge the exception, the Court in Ambach v. Norwick 20 upheld a bar to qualifying as a public school teacher for resident aliens who have not manifested an intention to apply for citizenship. The ''governmental function'' test took on added significance, the Court saying that the ''distinction between citizens and aliens, though ordinarily irrelevant to private activity, is fundamental to the definition and government of a State.'' 21 Thus, ''governmental entities, when exercising the functions of government, have wider latitude in limiting the participation of noncitizens.'' 22 Teachers, the Court thought, because of the role of public education in inculcating civic values and in preparing children for participation in society as citizens and because of the responsibility and discretion they have in fulfilling that role, perform a task that ''go[es] to the heart of representative government.'' 23 The citizenship requirement need only bear a rational relationship to the state interest, and the Court concluded it clearly did so.

Then, in Cabell v. Chavez-Salido, 24 the Court sustained a state law imposing a citizenship requirement upon all positions designated as ''peace officers,'' upholding in context that eligibility prerequisite for probation officers. First, the Court held that the extension of the requirement to an enormous range of people who were variously classified as ''peace officers'' did not reach so far nor was it so broad and haphazard as to belie the claim that the State was attempting to ensure that an important function of government be in the hands of those having a bond of citizenship. ''[T]he classifications used need not be precise; there need only be a substantial fit.'' 25 As to the particular positions, the Court held that ''they, like the state troopers involved in Foley, sufficiently partake of the sovereign's power to exercise coercive force over the individual that they may be limited to citizens.'' 26  

Thus, the Court so far has drawn a tripartite differentiation with respect to governmental restrictions on aliens. First, it has disapproved the earlier line of cases and now would foreclose attempts by the States to retain certain economic benefits, primarily employment and opportunities for livelihood, exclusively for citizens. Second, when government exercises principally its spending functions, such as those with respect to public employment gen erally and to eligibility for public benefits, its classifications with an adverse impact on aliens will be strictly scrutinized and usually fail. Third, when government acts in its sovereign capacity, when it acts within its constitutional prerogatives and responsibilities to establish and operate its own government, its decisions with respect to the citizenship qualifications of an appropriately designated class of public office holders will be subject only to traditional rational basis scrutiny. 27 However, the ''political function'' standard is elastic, and so long as disqualifications are attached to specific occupations 28 rather than to the civil service in general, as in Sugarman, the concept seems capable of encompassing the exclusion.

When confronted with a state statute that authorized local school boards to exclude from public schools alien children who were not legally admitted to the United States, the Court determined that an intermediate level of scrutiny was appropriate and found that the proffered justifications did not sustain the classification. 29 Inasmuch as it was clear that the undocumented status of the children was not irrelevant to valid government goals and inasmuch as the Court had previously held that access to education was not a ''fundamental interest'' which triggered strict scrutiny of governmental distinctions relating to education, 30 the Court's decision to accord intermediate review was based upon an amalgam of at least three factors. First, alienage was a characteristic that provokes special judicial protection when used as a basis for discrimination. Second, the children were innocent parties who were having a particular onus imposed on them because of the misconduct of their parents. Third, the total denial of an education to these chil dren would stamp them with an ''enduring disability'' that would harm both them and the State all their lives. 31 The Court evaluated each of the State's attempted justifications and found none of them satisfying the level of review demanded. 32 It seems evident that Plyler v. Doe is a unique case and that whatever it may doctrinally stand for, a sufficiently similar factual situation calling for application of its standards is unlikely to be replicated.

  Sex .--Shortly after ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the refusal of Illinois to license a woman to practice law was challenged before the Supreme Court, and the Court rejected the challenge in tones which prevailed well into the twentieth century. ''The civil law, as well as nature itself, has always recognized a wide difference in the respective spheres and destinies of man and woman. Man is, or should be, woman's protector and defender. The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex evidently unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life. The constitution of the family organization, which is founded in the divine ordinance, as well as in the nature of things, indicates the domestic sphere as that which properly belongs to the domain and functions of womanhood.'' 33 On the same premise, a statute restricting the franchise to men was sustained. 34  

The greater number of cases have involved legislation aimed to protect women from oppressive working conditions, as by prescrib ing maximum hours 35 or minimum wages 36 or by restricting some of the things women could be required to do. 37 A 1961 decision upheld a state law which required jury service of men but which gave women the option of serving or not. ''We cannot say that it is constitutionally impermissible for a State acting in pursuit of the general welfare, to conclude that a woman should be relieved from the civic duty of jury service unless she herself determines that such service is consistent with her own special responsibilities.'' 38 Another type of protective legislation for women that was sustained by the Court is that premised on protection of morals, as by forbidding the sale of liquor to women. 39 In a highly controversial ruling, the Court sustained a state law which forbade the licensing of any female bartender, except for the wives or daughters of male owners. The Court purported to view the law as one for the protection of the health and morals of women generally, with the exception being justified by the consideration that such women would be under the eyes of a protective male. 40  

A wide variety of sex discriminations by governmental and private parties, including the protective labor legislation previously sustained, is now subjected to federal statutory proscription, banning, for instance, sex discrimination in employment and requiring equal pay for equal work. 41 Some states have followed suit. 42 While the proposed Equal Rights Amendment pended before the States and ultimately failed of ratification, 43 the Supreme Court undertook a major evaluation of sex classification doctrine, first applying a ''heightened'' traditional standard of review (with bite) to void a discrimination and then, after coming within a vote of making sex a suspect classification, settling upon an intermediate standard. These standards continue, with some uncertainties of application and some tendencies among the Justices both to lessen and to increase the burden of governmental justification, to provide the analysis for evaluation of sex classifications.

In Reed v. Reed, 44 the Court held invalid a state probate law which gave males preference over females when both were equally entitled to administer an estate. Because the statute ''provides that different treatment be accorded to the applicants on the basis of their sex,'' Chief Justice Burger wrote, ''it thus establishes a classification subject to scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause.'' The Court proceeded to hold that under traditional equal protection standards-- requiring a classification to be reasonable and not arbitrarily related to a lawful objective--the classification made was an arbitrary way to achieve the objective the State advanced in defense of the law, that is, to reduce the area of controversy between otherwise equally qualified applicants for administration. Thus, the Court used traditional analysis but the holding seems to go somewhat further to say that not all lawful interests of a State may be advanced by a classification based solely on sex. 45  

It is now established that sex classifications, in order to withstand equal protection scrutiny, ''must serve important governmental objectives and must be substantially related to achievement of those objectives.'' 46 Thus, after several years in which sex dis tinctions were more often voided than sustained without a clear statement of the standard of review, 47 a majority of the Court has arrived at the intermediate standard which many had thought it was applying in any event. 48 The Court first examines the statutory or administrative scheme to determine if the purpose or objective is permissible and, if it is, whether it is important. Then, having ascertained the actual motivation of the classification, the Court engages in a balancing test to determine how well the classification serves the end and whether a less discriminatory one would serve that end without substantial loss to the government. 49  

Some sex distinctions were seen to be based solely upon ''old notions,'' no longer valid if ever they were, about the respective roles of the sexes in society, and those distinctions failed to survive even traditional scrutiny. Thus, a state law defining the age of majority as 18 for females and 21 for males, entitling the male child to support by his divorced father for three years longer than the female child, was deemed merely irrational, grounded as it was in the assumption of the male as the breadwinner, needing longer to prepare, and the female as suited for wife and mother. 50 Similarly, a state jury system that in effect excluded almost all women was deemed to be based upon an overbroad generalization about the role of women as a class in society, and the administrative convenience served could not justify it. 51 Even when the negative ''stereotype'' which is evoked is that of a stereotypical male, the Court has evaluated this as potential gender discrimination. In J. E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T. B., Supp.7 the Court addressed a paternity suit where men had been intentionally excluded from a jury through peremptory strikes. The Court rejected as unfounded the argument that men, as a class, would be more sympathetic to the defendant, the putative father. The Court also determined that genderbased exclusion of jurors would undermine the litigants' interest by tainting the proceedings, and in addition would harm the wrongfullyexcluded juror.

Assumptions about the relative positions of the sexes, however, are not without some basis in fact, and sex may sometimes be a reliable proxy for the characteristic, such as need, with which it is the legislature's actual intention to deal. But heightened scrutiny requires evidence of the existence of the distinguishing fact and its close correspondence with the condition for which sex stands as proxy. Thus, in the case which first expressly announced the intermediate scrutiny standard, the Court struck down a state statute that prohibited the sale of ''non-intoxicating'' 3.2 beer to males under 21 and to females under 18. 52 Accepting the argument that traffic safety was an important governmental objective, the Court emphasized that sex is an often inaccurate proxy for other, more germane classifications. Taking the statistics offered by the State as of value, while cautioning that statistical analysis is a ''dubious'' business that is in tension with the ''normative philosophy that underlies the Equal Protection Clause,'' the Court thought the correlation between males and females arrested for drunk driving showed an unduly tenuous fit to allow the use of sex as a distinction. 53  

Invalidating an Alabama law imposing alimony obligations upon males but not upon females, the Court acknowledged that assisting needy spouses was a legitimate and important governmental objective and would then have turned to ascertaining whether sex was a sufficiently accurate proxy for dependency, so it could be said that the classification was substantially related to achievement of the objective. 54 However, the Court observed that the State already conducted individualized hearings with respect to the need of the wife, so that with little additional burden needy males could be identified and helped. The use of the sex standard as a proxy, therefore, was not justified because it needlessly burdened needy men and advantaged financially secure women whose husbands were in need. 55  

Discrimination between unwed mothers and unwed fathers received different treatments through the Court's perception of the justifications and presumptions underlying each. A New York law permitted the unwed mother but not the unwed father of an illegitimate child to block his adoption by withholding consent. Acting in the instance of one who acknowledged his parenthood and who had maintained a close relationship with his child over the years, the Court could discern no substantial relationship between the classification and some important state interest. Promotion of adoption of illegitimates and their consequent legitimation was important, but the assumption that all unwed fathers either stood in a different relationship to their children than did the unwed mother or that the difficulty of finding the fathers would unreasonably burden the adoption process was overbroad, as the facts of the case revealed. No barrier existed to the State dispensing with consent when the father or his location is unknown, but disqualification of all unwed fathers may not be used as a shorthand for that step. 56 On the other hand, the Court sustained a Georgia statute which permitted the mother of an illegitimate child to sue for the wrongful death of the child but which allowed the father to sue only if he had legitimated the child and there is no mother. 57 There was no opinion of the Court, but both opinions making up the result emphasized that the objective of the State, the avoidance of dif ficulties in proving paternity, was an important one which was advanced by the classification. 58  

As in the instance of illegitimacy classifications, the issue of sex qualifications for the receipt of governmental financial benefits has divided the Court and occasioned close distinctions. A statutory scheme under which a serviceman could claim his spouse as a ''dependent'' for allowances while a servicewoman's spouse was not considered a ''dependent'' unless he was shown in fact to be dependent upon her for more than one half of his support was held an invalid dissimilar treatment of similarly situated men and women, not justified by the administrative convenience rationale. 59 In Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 60 the Court struck down a Social Security provision that gave survivor's benefits based on the insured's earnings to the widow and minor children but gave such benefits only to the children and not to the widower of a deceased woman worker. Focusing not only upon the discrimination against the widower but primarily upon the discrimination visited upon the woman worker whose earnings did not provide the same support for her family that a male worker's did, the Court saw the basis for the distinction resting upon the generalization that a woman would stay home and take care of the children while a man would not. Since the Court perceived the purpose of the provision to be to enable the surviving parent to choose to remain at home to care for minor children, the sex classification ill fitted the end and was invidiously discriminatory.

But when in Califano v. Goldfarb 61 the Court was confronted with a Social Security provision structured much as the benefit sections struck down in Frontiero and Wiesenfeld, even in the light of an express heightened scrutiny, no majority of the Court could be obtained for the reason for striking down the statute. The section provided that a widow was entitled to receive survivors' benefits based on the earnings of her deceased husband, regardless of dependency, but payments were to go to the widower of a deceased wife only upon proof that he had been receiving at least half of his support from her. The plurality opinion treated the discrimination as consisting of disparate treatment of women wage-earners whose tax payments did not earn the same family protection as male wage earners' taxes. Looking to the purpose of the benefits provision, the plurality perceived it to be protection of the familial unit rather than of the individual widow or widower and to be keyed to dependency rather than need. The sex classification was thus found to be based on an assumption of female dependency which ill-served the purpose of the statute and was an ill-chosen proxy for the underlying qualification. Administrative convenience could not justify use of such a questionable proxy. 62 Justice Stevens, concurring, accepted most of the analysis of the dissent but nonetheless came to the conclusion of invalidity. His argument was essentially that while either administrative convenience or a desire to remedy discrimination against female spouses could justify use of a sex classification, neither purpose was served by the sex classification actually used in this statute. 63  

Again, the Court divided closely when it sustained two instances of classifications claimed to constitute sex discrimination. In Rostker v. Goldberg, 64 rejecting presidential recommendations, Congress provided for registration only of males for a possible future military draft, excluding women altogether. The Court discussed but did not explicitly choose among proffered equal protection standards, but it apparently applied the intermediate test of Craig v. Boren. However, it did so in the context of its often-stated preference for extreme deference to military decisions and to congressional resolution of military decisions. Evaluating the congressional determination, the Court found that it has not been ''unthinking'' or ''reflexively'' based upon traditional notions of the differences between men and women; rather, Congress had extensively deliberated over its decision. It had found, the Court asserted, that the purpose of registration was the creation of a pool from which to draw combat troops when needed, an important and indeed compelling governmental interest, and the exclusion of women was not only ''sufficiently but closely'' related to that purpose because they were ill-suited for combat, could be excluded from combat, and registering them would be too burdensome to the military system. 65  

In Michael M. v. Superior Court, 66 the Court did expressly adopt the Craig v. Boren intermediate standard, but its application of the test appeared to represent a departure in several respects from prior cases in which it had struck down sex classifications. Michael M. involved the constitutionality of a statute that punished males, but not females, for having sexual intercourse with a nonspousal person under 18 years of age. The plurality and the concurrence generally agreed, but with some difference of emphasis, that while the law was founded on a clear sex distinction it was justified because it did serve an important governmental interest, the prevention of teenage pregnancies. Inasmuch as women may become pregnant and men may not, women would be better deterred by that biological fact, and men needed the additional legal deterrence of a criminal penalty. Thus, the law recognized that for purposes of this classification men and women were not similarly situated, and the statute did not deny equal protection. 67  

Cases of ''benign'' discrimination, that is, statutory classifications that benefit women and disadvantage men in order to overcome the effects of past societal discrimination against women, have presented the Court with some difficulty. Although the first two cases were reviewed under apparently traditional rational basis scrutiny, the more recent cases appear to subject these classifications to the same intermediate standard as any other sex classification. Kahn v. Shevin 68 upheld a state property tax exemption allowing widows but not widowers a $500 exemption. In justification, the State had presented extensive statistical data showing the substantial economic and employment disabilities of women in relation to men. The provision, the Court found, was ''reasonably designed to further the state policy of cushioning the financial impact of spousal loss upon the sex for whom that loss imposes a disproportionately heavy burden.'' 69 And in Schlesinger v. Ballard, 70 the Court sustained a provision requiring the mandatory discharge from the Navy of a male officer who has twice failed of promotion to certain levels, which in Ballard's case meant discharge after nine years of service, whereas women officers were entitled to 13 years of service before mandatory discharge for want of promotion. The difference was held to be a rational recognition of the fact that male and female officers were dissimilarly situated and that women had far fewer promotional opportunities than men had.

Although in each of these cases the Court accepted the proffered justification of remedial purpose without searching inquiry, later cases caution that ''the mere recitation of a benign, compensatory purpose is not an automatic shield which protects against any inquiry into the actual purposes underlying a statutory scheme.'' 71 Rather, after specifically citing the heightened scrutiny that all sex classifications are subjected to, the Court looks to the statute and to its legislative history to ascertain that the scheme does not actually penalize women, that it was actually enacted to compensate for past discrimination, and that it does not reflect merely ''archaic and overbroad generalizations'' about women in its moving force. But where a statute is ''deliberately enacted to compensate for particular economic disabilities suffered by women,'' it serves an important governmental objective and will be sustained if it is substantially related to achievement of that objective. 72  

Many of these lines of cases converged in Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan, 73 in which the Court stiffened and applied its standards for evaluating claimed benign distinctions benefiting women and additionally appeared to apply the intermediate standard itself more strictly. The case involved a male nurse who wished to attend a female- only nursing school located in the city in which he lived and worked; if he could not attend this particular school he would have had to commute 147 miles to another nursing school which did accept men, and he would have had difficulty doing so and retaining his job. The State defended on the basis that the female-only policy was justified as providing ''educational affirmative action for females.'' Recitation of a benign purpose, the Court said, was not alone sufficient. ''[A] State can evoke a compensatory purpose to justify an otherwise discriminatory classification only if members of the gender benefited by the classification actually suffer a disadvantage related to the classification.'' 74 But women did not lack opportunities to obtain training in nursing; instead they dominated the field. In the Court's view, the state policy did not compensate for discriminatory barriers facing women, but it perpetuated the stereotype of nursing as a woman's job. ''[A]lthough the State recited a 'benign, compensatory purpose,' it failed to establish that the alleged objective is the actual purpose underlying the discriminatory classification.'' 75 Even if the classification was premised on the proffered basis, the Court concluded, it did not substantially and directly relate to the objective, because the school permitted men to audit the nursing classes and women could still be adversely affected by the presence of men. 76 In a 1996 case, the Court required that a state demonstrate ''exceedingly persuasive justification'' for gender discrimination. When a female applicant challenged the exclusion of women from the historically male-only Virginia Military Institute (VMI), the State of Virginia defended the exclusion of females as essential to the nature of training at the military style institution. Supp.8 The State argued that the VMI program, which included rigorous physical training, deprivation of personal privacy, and an ''adversative model'' that featured minute regulation of behavior, would need to be unacceptably modified to facilitate the admission of women. While recognizing that women's admission would require accommodation such asdifferent housing assignments and physical training programs, the Court found that the reasons set forth by the State were not ''exceedingly persuasive,'' and thus the State did not meet its burden of justification. The Court also rejected the argument that a parallel program established by the State at a private women's college servedas an adequate substitute, finding that the program lacked the military-style structure found at VMI, and that it did not equal VMI in faculty, facilities, prestige or alumni network.

Another area presenting some difficulty is that of the relationship of pregnancy classifications to gender discrimination. In Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFluer, 77 a case decided upon due process grounds, two school systems requiring pregnant school teachers to leave work four and five months respectively before the expected childbirths were found to have acted arbitrarily and irrationally in establishing rules not supported by anything more weighty than administrative convenience buttressed with some possible embarrassment of the school boards in the face of pregnancy. On the other hand, the exclusion of pregnancy from a state financed program of payments to persons disabled from employment was upheld against equal protection attack as supportable by legitimate state interests in the maintenance of a self-sustaining program with rates low enough to permit the participation of low-income workers at affordable levels. 78 The absence of supportable reasons in one case and their presence in the other may well have made the significant difference.

  Illegitimacy .--After wrestling in a number of cases with the question of the permissibility of governmental classifications disadvantaging illegitimates and the standard for determining which classifications are sustainable, the Court arrived at a standard difficult to state and even more difficult to apply. 79 Although ''illegitimacy is analogous in many respects to the personal characteristics that have been held to be suspect when used as the basis of statutory differentiations,'' the analogy is ''not sufficient to require 'our most exacting scrutiny.''' The scrutiny to which it is entitled is intermediate, ''not a toothless [scrutiny],'' but somewhere between that accorded race and that accorded ordinary economic classifications. Basically, the standard requires a determination of a legitimate legislative aim and a careful review of how well the classification serves, or ''fits,'' the aim. 80 The common rationale of all the illegitimacy cases is not clear, is in many respects not wholly consistent, 81 but the theme that seems to be imposed on them by the more recent cases is that so long as the challenged statute does not so structure its conferral of rights, benefits, or detriments that some illegitimates who would otherwise qualify in terms of the statute's legitimate purposes are disabled from participation, the imposition of greater burdens upon illegitimates or some classes of illegitimates than upon legitimates is permissible. 82  

Intestate succession rights for illegitimates has divided the Court over the entire period. At first adverting to the broad power of the States over descent of real property, the Court employed re laxed scrutiny to sustain a law denying illegitimates the right to share equally with legitimates in the estate of their common father, who had acknowledged the illegitimates but who had died intestate. 83 Labine was strongly disapproved, however, and virtually overruled in Trimble v. Gordon, 84 which found an equal protection violation in a statute allowing illegitimate children to inherit by intestate succession from their mothers but from their fathers only if the father had ''acknowledged'' the child and the child had been legitimated by the marriage of the parents. The father in Trimble had not acknowledged his child, and had not married the mother, but a court had determined that he was in fact the father and had ordered that he pay child support. Carefully assessing the purposes asserted to be the basis of the statutory scheme, the Court found all but one to be impermissible or inapplicable and that one not served closely enough by the restriction. First, it was impermissible to attempt to influence the conduct of adults not to engage in illicit sexual activities by visiting the consequences upon the offspring. 85 Second, the assertion that the statute mirrored the assumed intent of decedents, in that, knowing of the statute's operation, they would have acted to counteract it through a will or otherwise, was rejected as unproved and unlikely. 86 Third, the argument that the law presented no insurmountable barrier to illegitimates inheriting since a decedent could have left a will, married the mother, or taken steps to legitimate the child, was rejected as inapposite. 87 Fourth, the statute did address a substantial problem, a permissible state interest, presented by the difficulties of proving pater nity and avoiding spurious claims. However, the court thought the means adopted, total exclusion, did not approach the ''fit'' necessary between means and ends to survive the scrutiny appropriate to this classification. The state court was criticized for failing ''to consider the possibility of a middle ground between the extremes of complete exclusion and case-by-case determination of paternity. For at least some significant categories of illegitimate children of intestate men, inheritance rights can be recognized without jeopardizing the orderly settlement of estates or the dependability of titles to property passing under intestacy laws.'' 88 Because the state law did not follow a reasonable middle ground, it was invalidated.

A reasonable middle ground was discerned, at least by Justice Powell, in Lalli v. Lalli, 89 concerning a statute which permitted legitimate children to inherit automatically from both their parents, while illegitmates could inherit automatically only from their mothers, and could inherit from their intestate fathers only if a court of competent jurisdiction had, during the father's lifetime, entered an order declaring paternity. The child tendered evidence of paternity, including a notarized document in which the putative father, in consenting to his marriage, referred to him as ''my son'' and several affidavits by persons who stated that the elder Lalli had openly and frequently acknowledged that the younger Lalli was his child. In the prevailing view, the single requirement of entry of a court order during the father's lifetime declaring the child as his met the ''middle ground'' requirement of Trimble; it was addressed closely and precisely to the substantial state interest of seeing to the orderly disposition of property at death by establishing proof of paternity of illegitimate children and avoiding spurious claims against intestate estates. To be sure, some illegitimates who were unquestionably established as children of the decreased would be disqualified because of failure of compliance, but individual fairness is not the test. The test rather is whether the requirement is closely enough related to the interests served to meet the standard of rationality imposed. Also, no doubt the State's interest could have been served by permitting other kinds of proof, but that too is not the test of the statute's validity. Hence, the balancing necessitated by the Court's promulgation of standards in such cases caused it to come to different results on closely related fact patterns, making predictability quite difficult but perhaps manageable. 90  

The Court's difficulty in arriving at predictable results has extended outside the area of descent of property. Thus, a Texas child support law affording legitimate children a right to judicial action to obtain support from their fathers while not affording the right to illegitimate children denied the latter equal protection. ''A State may not invidiously discriminate against illegitimate children by denying them substantial benefits accorded children generally. We therefore hold that once a State posits a judicially enforceable right on behalf of children to needed support from their natural fathers there is no constitutionally sufficient justification for denying such an essential right to a child simply because its natural father has not married its mother.'' 91  

Similarly, a federal Social Security provision was held invalid which made eligible for benefits, because of an insured parent's dis ability, all legitimate children as well as those illegitimate children capable of inheriting personal property under state intestacy law and those children who were illegitimate only because of a nonobvious defect in their parents' marriage, regardless of whether they were born after the onset of the disability, but which made all other illegitimate children eligible only if they were born prior to the onset of disability and if they were dependent upon the parent prior to the onset of disability. The Court deemed the purpose of the benefits to be to aid all children and rejected the argument that the burden on illigitimates was necessary to avoid fraud. 92  

However, in a second case, an almost identical program, providing benefits to children of a deceased insured, was sustained because its purpose was found to be to give benefits to children who were dependent upon the deceased parent and the classifications served that purpose. Presumed dependent were all legitimate children as well as those illegitimate children who were able to inherit under state intestacy laws, who were illegitimate only because of the technical invalidity of the parent's marriage, who had been acknowledged in writing by the father, who had been declared to be the father's by a court decision, or who had been held entitled to the father's support by a court. Illegitimate children not covered by these presumptions had to establish that they were living with the insured parent or were being supported by him when the parent died. According to the Court, all the presumptions constituted an administrative convenience which was a permissible device because those illegitimate children who were entitled to benefits because they were in fact dependent would receive benefits upon proof of the fact and it was irrelevant that other children not dependent in fact also received benefits. 93  

Footnotes

[Footnote 1] Graham v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 365, 371 (1971). See also Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 369 (1886); Truax v. Raich, 239 U.S. 33, 39 (1915); Takahashi v. Fish & Game Comm'n, 334 U.S. 410, 420 (1948). Aliens, even unlawful aliens, are ''persons'' to whom the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments apply. Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 210 -16 (1982). The Federal Government may not discriminate invidiously against aliens, Mathews v. Diaz, 426 U.S. 67, 77 (1976). However, because of the plenary power delegated by the Constitution to the national government to deal with aliens and naturalization, federal classifications are judged by less demanding standards than are those of the States, and many classifications which would fail if attempted by the States have been sustained because Congress has made them. Id. at 78-84; Fiallo v. Bell, 430 U.S. 787 (1977). Additionally, state discrimination against aliens may fail because it imposes burdens not permitted or contemplated by Congress in its regulations of admission and conditions of admission. Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52 (1941); Toll v. Moreno, 458 U.S. 1 (1982). Such state discrimination may also violate treaty obligations and be void under the supremacy clause, Askura v. City of Seattle, 265 U.S. 332 (1924), and some federal civil rights statutes, such as 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1981, protect resident aliens as well as citizens. Graham v. Richardson, supra, at 376-80.

[Footnote 2] Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886).

[Footnote 3] McGready v. Virginia, 94 U.S. 391 (1877); Patsone v. Pennsylvania, 232 U.S. 138 (1914) (limiting aliens' rights to develop natural resources); Hauenstein v. Lynham, 100 U.S. 483 (1880); Blythe v. Hinckley, 180 U.S. 333 (1901) (restriction of devolution of property to aliens); Terrace v. Thompson, 263 U.S. 197 (1923); Porterfield v. Webb, 263 U.S. 225 (1923); Webb v. O'Brien, 263 U.S. 313 (1923); Frick v. Webb, 263 U.S. 326 (1923) (denial of right to own and acquire land); Heim v. McCall, 239 U.S. 175 (1915); People v. Crane, 214 N.Y. 154, 108 N.E. 427, aff'd, 239 U.S. 195 (1915) (barring public employment to aliens); Ohio ex rel. Clarke v. Deckebach, 274 U.S. 392 (1927) (prohibiting aliens from operating poolrooms). The Court struck down a statute restricting the employment of aliens by private employers, however. Truax v. Raich, 239 U.S. 33 (1915).

[Footnote 4]   320 U.S. 81, 100 (1943).

[Footnote 5]   323 U.S. 214, 216 (1944).

[Footnote 6] Takahashi v. Fish & Game Comm'n, 334 U.S. 410 (1948).

[Footnote 7] Id. at 420. The decision was preceded by Oyama v. California, 332 U.S. 633 (1948), which was also susceptible to being read as questioning the premise of the earlier cases.

[Footnote 8] Graham v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 365, 372 (1971).

[Footnote 9]   413 U.S. 634 (1973).

[Footnote 10] Id. at 647-49. See also Foley v. Connelie, 435 U.S. 291, 296 (1978). Aliens can be excluded from voting, Skatfe v. Rorex, 553 P.2d 830 (Colo. 1976), appeal dismissed for lack of substantial federal question, 430 U.S. 961 (1977), and can be excluded from service on juries. Perkins v. Smith, 370 F. Supp. 134 (D.Md. 1974) (3-judge court), aff'd, 426 U.S. 913 (1976).

[Footnote 11] Sugarman v. Dougall, 413 U.S. 634, 647 (1973). Such state restrictions are ''not wholly immune from scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause.'' Id. at 648.

[Footnote 12] Justice Rehnquist dissented. Id. at 649. In the course of the opinion, the Court held inapplicable the doctrine of ''special public interest,'' the idea that a State's concern with the restriction of the resources of the State to the advancement and profit of its citizens is a valid basis for discrimination against out-of-state citizens and aliens generally, but it did not declare the doctrine invalid. Id. at 643-45. The ''political function'' exception is inapplicable to notaries public, who do not perform functions going to the heart of representative government. Bernal v. Fainter, 467 U.S. 216 (1984).

[Footnote 13] In re Griffiths, 413 U.S. 717 (1973). Chief Justice Burger and Justice Rehnquist dissented. Id. at 730, and 649 (Sugarman dissent also applicable to Griffiths).

[Footnote 14] Examining Board v. Flores de Otero, 426 U.S. 572 (1976). Since the jurisdiction was Puerto Rico, the Court was not sure whether the requirement should be governed by the Fifth or Fourteenth Amendment but deemed the question immaterial since the same result would be achieved. The quoted expression is from Truax v. Raich, 239 U.S. 33, 41 (1915).

[Footnote 15]   432 U.S. 1 (1977).

[Footnote 16] Id. at 9. Chief Justice Burger and Justices Powell, Rehnquist, and Stewart dissented. Id. at 12, 15, 17. Justice Rehnquist's dissent argued that the nature of the disqualification precluded it from being considered suspect.

[Footnote 17] Foley v. Connelie, 435 U.S. 291, 295 (1978). The opinion was by Chief Justice Burger and the quoted phrase was from his dissent in Nyquist v. Mauclet, 432 U.S. 1, 14 (1977). Justices Marshall, Stevens, and Brennan dissented. Id. at 302, 307.

[Footnote 18] Id.at 295-96. Formally following Sugarman v. Dougall, supra, the opinion considerably enlarged the exception noted in that case; see also Nyquist v. Mauclet, 432 U.S. 1, 11 (1977) (emphasizing the ''narrowness of the exception''). Concurring in Foley, supra, 300, Justice Stewart observed that ''it is difficult if not impossible to reconcile the Court's judgment in this case with the full sweep of the reasoning and authority of some of our past decisions. It is only because I have become increasingly doubtful about the validity of those decisions (in at least some of which I concurred) that I join the opinion of the Court in this case.'' On the other hand, Justice Blackmun, who had written several of the past decisions, including Mauclet, concurred also, finding the case consistent. Id.

[Footnote 19] Id. at 297-98. In Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347 (1976), barring patronage dismissals of police officers, the Court had nonetheless recognized an exception for policymaking officers which it did not extend to the police.

[Footnote 20]   441 U.S. 68 (1979). The opinion, by Justice Powell, was joined by Chief Justice Burger and Justices Stewart, White, and Rehnquist. Dissenting were Justices Blackmun, Brennan, Marshall, and Stevens. The disqualification standard was of course, that held invalid as a disqualification for receipt of educational assistance in Nyquist v. Mauclet, 432 U.S. 1 (1977).

[Footnote 21] Ambach v. Norwick, 441 U.S. 68, 75 (1979).

[Footnote 22] Id.

[Footnote 23] Id. at 75-80. The quotation, id. at 76, is from Sugarman v. Dougall, 413 U.S. 634, 647 (1973).

[Footnote 24]   454 U.S. 432 (1982). Joining the opinion of the Court were Justices White, Powell, Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Chief Justice Burger. Dissenting were Justices Blackmun, Brennan, Marshall, and Stevens. Id. at 447.

[Footnote 25] Id. at 442.

[Footnote 26] Id. at 445.

[Footnote 27] Id. at 438-39

[Footnote 28] Thus, the statute in Chavez-Salido applied to such positions as toll-service employees, cemetery sextons, fish and game wardens, and furniture and bedding inspectors, and yet the overall classification was deemed not so ill-fitting as to require its voiding.

[Footnote 29] Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 432 (1982). Joining the opinion of the Court were Justices Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun, Powell, and Stevens. Dissenting were Chief Justice Burger and Justices White, Rehnquist, and O'Connor. Id. at 242.

[Footnote 30] In San Antonio School Dist. v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1 (1973), while holding that education is not a fundamental interest, the Court expressly reserved the question whether a total denial of education to a class of children would infringe upon a fundamental interest. Id.at 18, 25 n.60, 37. The Plyler Court's emphasis upon the total denial of education and the generally suspect nature of alienage classifications left ambiguous whether the state discrimination would have been subjected to strict scrutiny if it had survived intermediate scrutiny. Justice Powell thought the Court had rejected strict scrutiny, 457 U.S. at 238 n.2 (concurring), while Justice Blackmun thought it had not reached the question, id. at 235 n.3 (concurring). Indeed, their concurring opinions seem directed more toward the disability visited upon innocent children than the broader complex of factors set out in the opinion of the Court. Id.at 231, 236.

[Footnote 31] Id. at 223-24.

[Footnote 32] Rejected state interests included preserving limited resources for its lawful residents, deterring an influx of illegal aliens, avoiding the special burden caused by these children, and serving children who were more likely to remain in the State and contribute to its welfare. Id. at 227-30.

[Footnote 33] Bradwell v. Illinois, 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 130, 141 (1873). The cases involving alleged discrimination against women contain large numbers of quaint quotations from unlikely sources. Upholding a law which imposed a fee upon all persons engaged in the laundry business, but excepting businesses employing not more than two women, Justice Holmes said: ''If Montana deems it advisable to put a lighter burden upon women than upon men with regard to an employment that our people commonly regard as more appropriate for the former, the Fourteenth Amendment does not interfere by creating a fictitious equality where there is a real difference.'' Quong Wing v. Kirkendall, 223 U.S. 59, 63 (1912). And upholding a law prohibiting most women from tending bar, Justice Frankfurter said: ''The fact that women may now have achieved the virtues that men have long claimed as their prerogatives and now indulge in vices that men have long practiced, does not preclude the States from drawing a sharp line between the sexes, certainly in such matters as the regulation of the liquor traffic. . . . The Constitution does not require legislatures to reflect sociological insight, or shifting social standards, any more than it requires them to keep abreast of the latest scientific standards.'' Goesaert v. Cleary, 335 U.S. 464, 466 (1948).

[Footnote 34] Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. (21 Wall.) 162 (1875) (privileges and immunities).

[Footnote 35] Muller v. Oregon, 208 U.S. 412 (1908); Dominion Hotel v. Arizona, 249 U.S. 265 (1919).

[Footnote 36] West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, 300 U.S. 379 (1937).

[Footnote 37] E.g., Radice v. New York, 264 U.S. 292 (1924) (prohibiting night work by women in restaurants). A similar restriction set a maximum weight that women could be required to lift.

[Footnote 38] Hoyt v. Florida, 368 U.S. 57, 62 (1961).

[Footnote 39] Cronin v. Adams, 192 U.S. 108 (1904).

[Footnote 40] Goesaert v. Cleary, 335 U.S. 464 (1948).

[Footnote 41] Thus, title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 80 Stat. 662, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e et seq., bans discrimination against either sex in employment. See, e.g., Phillips v. Martin-Marietta Corp., 400 U.S. 542 (1971); Dothard v. Rawlinson, 433 U.S. 321 (1977); Los Angeles Dep't of Water & Power v. Manhart, 435 U.S. 702 (1978); Arizona Governing Comm. for Tax Deferred Plans v. Norris, 463 U.S. 1073 (1983) (actuarially based lower monthly retirement benefits for women employees violates Title VII); Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986) (''hostile environment'' sex harassment claim is actionable). Reversing rulings that pregnancy discrimination is not reached by the statutory bar on sex discrimination, General Electric Co. v. Gilbert, 429 U.S. 125 (1976); Nashville Gas Co. v. Satty, 434 U.S. 136 (1977), Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Pub. L. 95-555 (1978), 92 Stat. 2076, amending 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e. The Equal Pay Act, 77 Stat. 56 (1963), amending the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. Sec. 206(d), generally applies to wages paid for work requiring ''equal skill, effort, and responsibility.'' See Corning Glass Works v. Brennan, 417 U.S. 188 (1974). On the controversial issue of ''comparable worth'' and the interrelationship of title VII and the Equal Pay Act, see County of Washington v. Gunther, 452 U.S. 161 (1981).

[Footnote 42] See, e.g., Roberts v. United States Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609 (1984) (state prohibition on gender discrimination in aspects of public accommodation, as applied to membership in a civic organization, is justified by compelling state interest).

[Footnote 43] On the Equal Rights Amendment, see supra, pp. 904-06, 913.

[Footnote 44]   404 U.S. 71 (1971).

[Footnote 45] Id.at 75-77. Cf. Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438, 447 n.7 (1972). A statute similar to that in Reed was before the Court in Kirchberg v. Feenstra, 450 U.S. 455 (1981) (invalidating statute giving husband unilateral right to dispose of jointly owned community property without wife's consent).

[Footnote 46] Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190, 197 (1976); Califano v. Goldfarb, 430 U.S. 199, 210 -11 (1977) (plurality opinion); Califano v. Webster, 430 U.S. 313, 316 -317 (1977); Orr v. Orr, 440 U.S. 268, 279 (1979); Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U.S. 380, 388 (1979); Massachusetts Personnel Adm'r v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256, 273 (1979); Califano v. Westcott, 443 U.S. 76, 85 (1979); Wengler v. Druggists Mutual Ins. Co., 446 U.S. 142, 150 (1980); Kirchberg v. Feenstra, 450 U.S. 455, 461 (1981); Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. 718, 723 -24 (1982). But see Michael M. v. Superior Court, 450 U.S. 464, 468 -69 (1981) (plurality opinion); id. at 483 (Justice Blackmun concurring); Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57, 69 -72 (1981). The test is the same whether women or men are disadvantaged by the classification, Orr v. Orr, supra, at 279; Caban v. Mohammed, supra, at 394; Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan, supra at 724, although Justice Rehnquist and Chief Justice Burger strongly argued that when males are disadvantaged only the rational basis test is appropriate. Craig v. Boren, supra, 217, 218- 21; Califano v. Goldfarb, supra, at 224. That adoption of a standard has not eliminated difficulty in deciding such cases should be evident by perusal of the cases following.

[Footnote 47] In Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973), four Justices were prepared to hold that sex classifications are inherently suspect and must therefore be subjected to strict scrutiny. Id.at 684-87 (Justices Brennan, Douglas, White, and Marshall). Three Justices, reaching the same result, thought the statute failed the traditional test and declined for the moment to consider whether sex was a suspect classification, finding that inappropriate while the Equal Rights Amendment was pending. Id. at 691 (Justices Powell and Blackmun and Chief Justice Burger). Justice Stewart found the statute void under traditional scrutiny and Justice Rehnquist dissented. Id. at 691. In Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. 718, 724 n.9 (1982), Justice O'Connor for the Court expressly reserved decision whether a classification that survived intermediate scrutiny would be subject to strict scrutiny.

[Footnote 48] While their concurrences in Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190, 210 , 211 (1976), indicate some reticence about express reliance on intermediate scrutiny, Justices Powell and Stevens have since joined or written opinions stating the test and applying it. E.g., Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U.S. 380, 388 (1979) (Justice Powell writing the opinion of the Court); Parham v. Hughes, 441 U.S. 347, 359 (1979) (Justice Powell concurring); Califano v. Goldfarb, 430 U.S. 199, 217 (1977) (Justice Stevens concurring); Caban v. Mohammed, supra, at 401 (Justice Stevens dissenting). Chief Justice Burger and Justice Rehnquist have not clearly stated a test, although their deference to legislative judgment approaches the traditional scrutiny test. But see Califano v. Westcott, supra, at 93 (joining Court on substantive decision). And cf. Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. 718, 734 -35 (1982) (Justice Blackmun dissenting).

[Footnote 49] The test is thus the same as is applied to illegitimacy classifications, although with apparently more rigor when sex is involved.

[Footnote 50] Stanton v. Stanton, 421 U.S. 7 (1975). See also Stanton v. Stanton, 429 U.S. 501 (1977). Assumptions about the traditional roles of the sexes afford no basis for support of classifications under the intermediate scrutiny standard. E.g., Orr v. Orr, 440 U.S. 268, 279 -80 (1979); Parham v. Hughes, 441 U.S. 347, 355 (1979); Kirchberg v. Feenstra, 450 U.S. 455 (1981). Justice Stevens in particular has been concerned whether legislative classifications by sex simply reflect traditional ways of thinking or are the result of a reasoned attempt to reach some neutral goal, e.g., Califano v. Goldfarb, 430 U.S. 199, 222 - 23 (1978) (concurring), and he will sustain some otherwise impermissible distinctions if he finds the legislative reasoning to approximate the latter approach. Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U.S. 380, 401 (1979) (dissenting).

[Footnote 51] Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522 (1975). The precise basis of the decision was the Sixth Amendment right to a representative cross section of the community, but the Court dealt with and disapproved the reasoning in Hoyt v. Florida, 368 U.S. 57 (1961), in which a similar jury selection process was upheld against due process and equal protection challenge.

[Footnote 7 (1996 Supplement)] 511 U.S. 127 (1994).

[Footnote 52] Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190 (1976).

[Footnote 53] Id.at 198, 199-200, 201-04.

[Footnote 54] Orr v. Orr, 440 U.S. 268 (1979).

[Footnote 55] Id. at 280-83. An administrative convenience justification was not available, therefore. Id. at 281 & n.12. While such an argument has been accepted as a sufficient justification in at least some illegitimacy cases, Mathews v. Lucas, 427 U.S. 495, 509 (1976), it has neither wholly been ruled out nor accepted in sex cases. In Lucas, supra, 509-10, the Court interpreted Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973), as having required a showing at least that for every dollar lost to a recipient not meeting the general purpose qualification a dollar is saved in administrative expense. In Wengler v. Druggists Mutual Ins. Co., 446 U.S. 142, 152 (1980), the Court said that ''[i]t may be that there are levels of administrative convenience that will justify discriminations that are subject to heightened scrutiny . . . , but the requisite showing has not been made here by the mere claim that it would be inconvenient to individualize determinations about widows as well as widowers.'' Justice Stevens apparently would demand a factual showing of substantial savings. Califano v. Goldfarb, 430 U.S. 199, 219 (1977) (concurring).

[Footnote 56] Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U.S. 380 (1979). Four Justices dissented. Id. at 394 (Justice Stewart), 401 (Justices Stevens and Rehnquist and Chief Justice Burger). For the conceptually different problem of classification between different groups of women on the basis of marriage or absence of marriage to a wage earner, see Califano v. Boles, 443 U.S. 282 (1979).

[Footnote 57] Parham v. Hughes, 441 U.S. 347 (1979). Justices White, Brennan, Marshall, and Blackmun, who had been in the majority in Caban, dissented. Id. at 361.

[Footnote 58] The plurality opinion determined that the statute did not invidiously discriminate against men as a class; it was no overbroad generalization but proceeded from the fact that only men could legitimate children by unilateral action. The sexes were not similarly situated, therefore, and the classification recognized that. As a result, all that was required was that the means be a rational way of dealing with the problem of proving paternity. Id. at 353-58. Justice Powell found the statute valid because the sex-based classification was substantially related to the objective of avoiding problems of proof in proving paternity. He also emphasized that the father had it within his power to remove the bar by legitimating the child. Id. at 359.

[Footnote 59] Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973).

[Footnote 60]   420 U.S. 636 (1975).

[Footnote 61]   430 U.S. 199 (1977). The dissent argued that whatever the classification utilized, social insurance programs should not automatically be subjected to heightened scrutiny but rather only to traditional rationality review. Id. at 224 (Justice Rehnquist with Chief Justice Burger and Justices Stewart and Blackmun). In Wengler v. Druggists Mutual Ins. Co., 446 U.S. 142 (1980), voiding a state workers' compensation provision identical to that voided in Goldfarb, only Justice Rehnquist continued to adhere to this view, although the others may have yielded only to precedent.

[Footnote 62] Id. at 430 U.S. 204 -09, 212-17 (Justices Brennan, White, Marshall, and Powell). Congress responded by eliminating the dependency requirement but by adding a pension offset provision reducing spousal benefits by the amount of various other pensions received. Continuation in this context of the Goldfarb gender-based dependency classification for a five-year ''grace period'' was upheld in Heckler v. Mathews, 465 U.S. 728 (1984), as directly and substantially related to the important governmental interest in protecting against the effects of the pension offset the retirement plans of individuals who had based their plans on unreduced pre-Goldfarb payment levels.

[Footnote 63] Id. at 217. Justice Stevens adhered to this view in Wengler v. Druggists Mutual Ins. Co., 446 U.S. 142, 154 (1980). Note the unanimity of the Court on the substantive issue, although it was divided on remedy, in voiding in Califano v. Westcott, 443 U.S. 76 (1979), a Social Security provision giving benefits to families with dependent children who have been deprived of parental support because of the unemployment of the father but giving no benefits when the mother is unemployed.

[Footnote 64]   453 U.S. 57 (1981). Joining the opinion of the Court were Justices Rehnquist, Stewart, Blackmun, Powell, and Stevens, and Chief Justice Burger. Dissenting were Justices White, Marshall, and Brennan. Id. at 83, 86.

[Footnote 65] Id. at 69-72, 78-83. The dissent argued that registered persons would fill noncombat positions as well as combat ones and that drafting women would add to women volunteers providing support for combat personnel and would free up men in other positions for combat duty. Both dissents assumed without deciding that exclusion of women from combat served important governmental interests. Id. at 83, 93. The majority's reliance on an administrative convenience argument, it should be noted, id., 81, was contrary to recent precedent. Supra, p. 1880 n.55.

[Footnote 66]   450 U.S. 464 (1981). Joining the opinion of the Court were Justices Rehnquist, Stewart, and Powell, and Chief Justice Burger, constituting only a plurality. Justice Blackmun concurred in a somewhat more limited opinion. Id. at 481. Dissenting were Justices Brennan, White, Marshall, and Stevens. Id. at 488, 496.

[Footnote 67] Id. at 470-74, 481. The dissents questioned both whether the pregnancy deterrence rationale was the purpose underlying the distinction and whether, if it was, the classification was substantially related to achievement of the goal. Id. at 488, 496.

[Footnote 68]   416 U.S. 351 (1974).

[Footnote 69] Id. at 355.

[Footnote 70]   419 U.S. 498 (1975).

[Footnote 71] Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 420 U.S. 636, 648 (1975); Califano v. Goldfarb, 430 U.S. 199, 209 n.8 (1977); Orr v. Orr, 440 U.S. 268, 280 -82 (1979); Wengler v. Druggists Mutual Ins. Co., 446 U.S. 142, 150 - 52 (1980). In light of the stiffened standard, Justice Stevens has called for overruling Kahn, Califano v. Goldfarb, supra, 223-24, but Justice Blackmun would preserve that case. Orr v. Orr, supra, at 284. Cf. Regents of the Univ. of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 302 -03 (1978) (Justice Powell; less stringent standard of review for benign sex classifications).

[Footnote 72] Califano v. Webster, 430 U.S. 313, 316 -18, 320 (1977). There was no doubt that the provision sustained in Webster had been adopted expressly to relieve past societal discrimination. The four Goldfarb dissenters concurred specially, finding no difference between the two provisions. Id. at 321.

[Footnote 73]   458 U.S. 718 (1982). Joining the opinion of the Court were Justices O'Connor, Brennan, White, Marshall, and Stevens. Dissenting were Chief Justice Burger and Justices Blackmun, Powell, and Rehnquist. Id. at 733, 735.

[Footnote 74] Id. at 728.

[Footnote 75] Id. at 730. In addition to obligating the State to show that in fact there was existing discrimination or effects from past discrimination, the Court also appeared to take the substantial step of requiring the State ''to establish that the legislature intended the single-sex policy to compensate for any perceived discrimination.'' Id. at 730 n.16. A requirement that the proffered purpose be the actual one and that it must be shown that the legislature actually had that purpose in mind would be a notable stiffening of equal protection standards.

[Footnote 76] In the major dissent, Justice Powell argued that only a rational basis standard ought to be applied to sex classifications that would ''expand women's choices,'' but that the exclusion here satisfied intermediate review because it promoted diversity of educational opportunity and was premised on the belief that single-sex colleges offer ''distinctive benefits'' to society. Id. at 735, 740 (emphasis by Justice), 743. The Court noted that because the State maintained no other single-sex public university or college, the case did not present ''the question of whether States can provide 'separate but equal' undergraduate institutions for males and females,'' id. at 720 n.1, although Justice Powell thought the decision did preclude such institutions. Id. at 742-44. See Vorchheimer v. School Dist. of Philadelphia, 532 F. 2d 880 (3d Cir. 1976) (finding no equal protection violation in maintenance of two single-sex high schools of equal educational offerings, one for males, one for females), aff'd by an equally divided Court, 430 U.S. 703 (1977) (Justice Rehnquist not participating).

[Footnote 8 (1996 Supplement)] United States v. Virginia, 116 S. Ct. 2264 (1996).

[Footnote 77]   414 U.S. 632 (1974). Justice Powell concurred on equal protection grounds. Id. at 651. See also Turner v. Department of Employment Security, 423 U.S. 44 (1975).

[Footnote 78] Geduldig v. Aiello, 417 U.S. 484 (1974). The Court denied that the classification was based upon ''gender as such.'' Classification was on the basis of pregnancy, and while only women can become pregnant, that fact alone was not determinative. ''The program divides potential recipients into two groups--pregnant woman and nonpregnant persons. While the first group is exclusively female, the second includes members of both sexes.'' Id. at 496 n.20. For a rejection of a similar attempted distinction, see Nyquist v. Mauclet, 432 U.S. 1, 9 (1977); and Trimble v. Gordon, 430 U.S. 762, 774 (1977). See also Phillips v. Martin-Marietta Corp., 400 U.S. 542 (1971). For the transmutation of Geduldig into statutory interpretation and Congress' response, see supra, p. 1876 n.41.

[Footnote 79] The first cases set the stage for the lack of consistency. Compare Levy v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 68 (1968), and Glona v. American Guar. & Liab. Ins. Co., 391 U.S. 73 (1968), invalidating laws which precluded wrongful death actions in cases involving the child or the mother when the child was illegitimate, in which scrutiny was strict, with Labine v. Vincent, 401 U.S. 532 (1971), involving intestate succession, in which scrutiny was rational basis, and Weber v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 406 U.S. 164 (1972), involving a workmen's compensation statute distinguishing between legitimates and illegitimates, in which scrutiny was intermediate.

[Footnote 80] Mathews v. Lucas, 427 U.S. 495, 503 -06 (1976); Trimble v. Gordon, 430 U.S. 762, 766 -67 (1977); Lalli v. Lalli, 439 U.S. 259, 265 (1978). Scrutiny in previous cases had ranged from negligible, Labine v. Vincent, 401 U.S. 532 (1971), to something approaching strictness, Jiminez v. Weinberger, 417 U.S. 628, 631 -632 (1974). Mathews itself illustrates the uncertainty of statement, suggesting at one point that the Labine standard may be appropriate, supra, at 506, and at another that the standard appropriate to sex classifications is to be used, id. at 510, while observing a few pages earlier that illegitimacy is entitled to less exacting scrutiny than either race or sex. Id. at 506. Trimble settles on intermediate scrutiny but does not assess the relationship between its standard and the sex classification standard. See Parham v. Hughes, 441 U.S. 347 (1979), and Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U.S. 380 (1979) (both cases involving classifications reflecting both sex and illegitimacy interests).

[Footnote 81] The major inconsistency arises from three 5-to-4 decisions. Labine v. Vincent, 401 U.S. 532 (1971), was largely overruled by Trimble v. Gordon, 430 U.S. 762 (1977), which itself was substantially limited by Lalli v. Lalli, 439 U.S. 259 (1978). Justice Powell was the swing vote for different disposition of the latter two cases. Thus, while four Justices argued for stricter scrutiny and usually invalidation of such classifications, Lalli v. Lalli, supra, at 277 (Justices Brennan, White, Marshall, and Stevens dissenting), and four favor relaxed scrutiny and usually sustaining the classifications, Trimble v. Gordon, supra, 776, 777 (Chief Justice Burger and Justices Stewart, Blackmun, and Rehnquist dissenting), Justice Powell applied his own intermediate scrutiny and selectively voided and sustained. See Lalli v. Lalli, supra, (plurality opinion by Justice Powell).

[Footnote 82] A classification that absolutely distinguishes between legitimates and illegitimates is not alone subject to such review; one that distinguishes among classes of illegitimates is also subject to it, Trimble v. Gordon, 430 U.S. 762, 774 (1977), as indeed are classifications based on other factors. E.g., Nyquist v. Mauclet, 432 U.S. 1, 9 (1977) (alienage).

[Footnote 83] Labine v. Vincent, 401 U.S. 532 (1971). Weber v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 406 U.S. 164, 170 (1972), had confined the analysis of Labine to the area of state inheritance laws in expanding review of illegitimacy classifications.

[Footnote 84]   430 U.S. 762 (1977). Chief Justice Burger and Justices Stewart, Blackmun, and Rehnquist dissented, finding the statute ''constitutionally indistinguishable'' from the one sustained in Labine. Id. at 776. Justice Rehnquist also dissented separately. Id. at 777.

[Footnote 85] Id. at 768-70. While this purpose had been alluded to in Labine v. Vincent, 401 U.S. 532, 538 (1971), it was rejected as a justification in Weber v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 406 U.S. 164, 173 , 175 (1972). Visiting consequences upon the parent appears to be permissible. Parham v. Hughes, 441 U.S. 347, 352 -53 (1979).

[Footnote 86] Trimble v. Gordon, 430 U.S. 762, 774 -76 (1977). The Court cited the failure of the state court to rely on this purpose and its own examination of the statute.

[Footnote 87] Id. at 773-74. This justification had been prominent in Labine v. Vincent, 401 U.S. 532, 539 (1971), and its absence had been deemed critical in Weber v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 406 U.S. 164, 170 -71 (1972). The Trimble Court thought this approach ''somewhat of an analytical anomaly'' and disapproved it. However, the degree to which one could conform to the statute's requirements and the reasonableness of those requirements in relation to a legitimate purpose are prominent in Justice Powell's reasoning in subsequent cases. Lalli v. Lalli, 439 U.S. 259, 266 -74 (1978); Parham v. Hughes, 441 U.S. 347, 359 (1979) (concurring). See also Nyquist v. Mauclet, 432 U.S. 1 (1977) (alienage); Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. 718, 723 n.8 (1982) (sex); and compare id. at 736 (Justice Powell dissenting).

[Footnote 88] Trimble v. Gordon, 430 U.S. 762, 770 -73 (1977). The result is in effect a balancing one, the means-ends relationship must be a substantial one in terms of the advantages of the classification as compared to the harms of the classification means. Justice Rehnquist's dissent is especially critical of this approach. Id. at 777, 781-86. Also not interfering with orderly administration of estates is application of Trimble in a probate proceeding ongoing at the time Trimble was decided; the fact that the death had occurred prior to Trimble was irrelevant. Reed v. Campbell, 476 U.S. 852 (1986).

[Footnote 89]   439 U.S. 259 (1978). The four Trimble dissenters joined Justice Powell in the result, although only two joined his opinion. Justices Blackmun and Rehnquist concurred because they thought Trimble wrongly decided and ripe for overruling. Id. at 276. The four dissenters, who had joined the Trimble majority with Justice Powell, thought the two cases were indistinguishable. Id. at 277.

[Footnote 90] Illustrating the difficulty are two cases in which the fathers of illegitimate children challenged statutes treating them differently than mothers of such children were treated. In Parham v. Hughes, 441 U.S. 347 (1979), the majority viewed the distinction as a gender-based one rather than as an illegitimacy classification and sustained a bar to a wrongful death action by the father of an illegitimate child who had not legitimated him; in Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U.S. 380 (1980), again viewing the distinction as a gender-based one, the majority voided a state law permitting the mother but not the father of an illegitimate child to block his adoption by refusing to consent. Both decisions were 5-to-4.

[Footnote 91] Gomez v. Perez, 409 U.S. 535, 538 (1978) (emphasis supplied). Following the decision, Texas authorized illegitimate children to obtain support from their fathers. But the legislature required as a first step that paternity must be judicially determined, and imposed a limitations period within which suit must be brought of one year from birth of the child. If suit is not brought within that period the child could never obtain support at any age from his father. No limitation was imposed on the opportunity of a natural child to seek support, up to age 18. In Mills v. Habluetzel, 456 U.S. 91 (1982), the Court invalidated the one-year limitation. While a State has an interest in avoiding stale or fraudulent claims, the limit must not be so brief as to deny such children a reasonable opportunity to show paternity. Similarly, a 2-year statute of limitations on paternity and support actions was held to deny equal protection to illegitimates in Pickett v. Brown, 462 U.S. 1 (1983), and a 6-year limit was struck down in Clark v. Jeter, 486 U.S. 456 (1988). In both cases the Court pointed to the fact that increasingly sophisticated genetic tests are minimizing the ''lurking problems with respect to proof of paternity'' referred to in Gomez, 409 U.S. at 538 . Also, the state's interest in imposing the 2- year limit was undercut by exceptions (e.g., for illegitimates receiving public assistance), and by different treatment for minors generally; similarly, the importance of imposing a 6-year limit was belied by that state's more recent enactment of a non-retroactive 18-year limit for paternity and support actions.

[Footnote 92] Jiminez v. Weinberger, 417 U.S. 628 (1974). But cf. Califano v. Boles, 443 U.S. 282 (1979). See also New Jersey Welfare Rights Org. v. Cahill, 411 U.S. 619 (1973) (limiting welfare assistance to households in which parents are ceremonially married and the children are legitimate or adopted denied illegitimate children equal protection); Richardson v. Davis, 409 U.S. 1069 (1972), aff'g 342 F. Supp. 588 (D. Conn.) (3-judge court), and Richardson v. Griffin, 409 U.S. 1069 (1972), aff'g 346 F. Supp. 1226 (D. Md.) (3-judge court) (Social Security provision entitling illegitimate children to monthly benefit payments only to extent that payments to widow and legitimate children do not exhaust benefits allowed by law denies illegitimates equal protection).

[Footnote 93] Mathews v. Lucas, 427 U.S. 495 (1976). It can be seen that the only difference between Jiminez and Lucas is that in the former the Court viewed the benefits as owing to all children and not just to dependents, while in the latter the benefits were viewed as owing only to dependents and not to all children. But it is not clear that in either case the purpose determined to underlie the provision of benefits was compelled by either statutory language or legislative history. For a particularly good illustration of the difference such a determination of purpose can make and the way the majority and dissent in a 5-to-4 decision read the purpose differently, see Califano v. Boles, 443 U.S. 282 (1979).


 

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Annotations p. 31