The Equal Protection Clauses function to restrain the from either creating classifications of persons or interfering with a legally recognized right. Upon an equal protection challenge of a statute, courts must first determine which of several tiers of scrutiny should be utilized and then whether the statute meets the relevant standard of review. Strict scrutiny of a governmental classification applies only when the classification impermissibly interferes with the exercise of a fundamental right or operates to the peculiar disadvantage of a suspect class, courts apply the lower tier or rational basis test if the statute neither classifies persons based on suspect characteristics nor impinges on the exercise of a fundamental right.
Don Liebes and Gate City Billiards Country Club (Gate City) appealed a trial court order upholding two civil penalties for allowing smoking in its establishment. They contended that the Smoking Ban or Act unconstitutionally limits its definition of "private club" to nonprofit corporations. Specifically, Gate City argued that the statutory scheme exempting nonprofit private clubs but including for-profit private clubs within the ambit of the Smoking Ban violated its equal protection rights.
Did the Smoking Ban's private club definition violate the Equal Protection Clauses?
The Court found that the club failed to prove that the Smoking Ban's private club definition violated the Equal Protection Clauses, either facially or as applied to the club. Judgment affirmed.