Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena

515 U.S. 200 (1995)

 

RULE:

All racial classifications, imposed by whatever federal, state, or local governmental actor, must be analyzed by a reviewing court under strict scrutiny. In other words, such classifications are constitutional only if they are narrowly tailored measures that further compelling governmental interests.

FACTS:

Petitioner, a low bidder on a federal contract, was denied the contract because a presumptive preference was given to minority business entities. Petitioner sued, claiming violation of its U.S. Const. amend. V equal protection rights. Lower federal courts rejected the claim, relying upon precedent which subjected U.S. Const. amend. V equal protection claims to intermediate scrutiny. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded.

ISSUE:

Whether U.S. Const. amend. V equal protection claims are analyzed the same as amend. XIV claims when governmental racial classifications are involved?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

First, petitioner could claim injury owing to a discriminatory classification, which prevented it from competing on an equal footing (petitioner need not allege that it would have obtained a benefit but for the discriminatory classification). Second, U.S. Const. amends. V and XIV equal protection claims are analyzed precisely the same way—applying strict scrutiny analysis (that is, government racial classifications must serve a compelling governmental interest and be narrowly tailored to further that interest). Finally, since lower courts applied intermediate scrutiny, remand for strict scrutiny analysis was required.

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