M. v. Superior Court

450 U.S. 464, 101 S. Ct. 1200, 67 L. Ed. 2d 437, 1981 U.S. LEXIS 83, 49 U.S.L.W. 4273

 

RULE:

A legislature may not make overbroad generalizations based on sex which are entirely unrelated to any differences between men and women or which demean the ability or social status of the affected class. But because the Equal Protection Clause does not demand that a statute necessarily apply equally to all persons or require things which are different in fact to be treated in law as though they were the same, statutes have been upheld where the gender classification is not invidious, but rather realistically reflects the fact that the sexes are not similarly situated in certain circumstances

FACTS:

A legislature may not make overbroad generalizations based on sex which are entirely unrelated to any differences between men and women or which demean the ability or social status of the affected class. But because the Equal Protection Clause does not demand that a statute necessarily apply equally to all persons or require things which are different in fact to be treated in law as though they were the same, statutes have been upheld where the gender classification is not invidious, but rather realistically reflects the fact that the sexes are not similarly situated in certain circumstances

ISSUE:

Does California's "statutory rape" law, § 261.5 of the Cal. Penal Code Ann. (West Supp. 1981), violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The court rejected defendant's contention that § 261.5 violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It was held that the State had a legitimate interest in preventing illegitimate pregnancies because of the social and economic problems such pregnancies caused it and the woman to suffer. The Court further held that the statute was sufficiently related to that state interest to pass constitutional muster. Moreover, the statute was not overbroad in its application to prepubescent females who are unable to become pregnant. The statute did not impermissibly discriminate between genders by punishing only males when both parties were under 18 years old.

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