United States v. Virginia

518 U.S. 515, 116 S. Ct. 2264 (1996)

 

RULE:

In cases of official classification based on gender, the reviewing court, must determine whether the proffered justification is exceedingly persuasive. The burden of justification is demanding and it rests entirely on the state to show at least that the challenged classification serves important governmental objectives and that the discriminatory means employed are substantially related to the achievement of those objectives.

FACTS:

The United States sued Virginia for violating the Equal Protection Clause of U.S. Const. amend. XIV owing to Virginia's policy of denying women admission to a publicly funded university. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Virginia. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

ISSUE:

Did the policy violate equal protection?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The Court opined that in cases of official classification based on gender, the proffered justification must be exceedingly persuasive; that the burden of justification was demanding and rested entirely on the state; that the state must show at least that the challenged classification served important governmental objectives and that the discriminatory means employed were substantially related to the achievement of those objectives; that the justification was genuine, not hypothesized or invented post hoc in response to litigation; and that it did not rely on overbroad generalizations about the different talents, capacities, or preferences of males and females.

The Court held that Virginia failed to satisfy its burden of providing an exceedingly persuasive justification for its sex-based admissions policy or that the policy was substantially related to the achievement of those objectives.

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