Equality of Opportunity in the Regulatory Age: Why Yesterday's Rationality Review Isn't Enough

41 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2005

Abstract

Equal protection cases routinely distinguish between suspect and nonsuspect classifications. Because nonsuspect classifications are scrutinized under the forgiving rational basis test, government regulations of economic activity are usually upheld even in highly questionable circumstances. But several recent decisions in federal courts - involving enterprises as diverse as barber shops and shoe shining - suggest a need to reexamine twentieth century assumptions about equal rights.

This article argues that the values protected by the Equal Protection Clause require a more meaningful judicial review of economic regulations and addresses the shortcomings of recent criticisms of applying this meaningful scrutiny.

Keywords: rational basis, economic liberty, craigmiles v. giles, powers v. harris, lochner, brown v. barry, economic freedom, slaughterhouse cases

JEL Classification: K10, K19

Suggested Citation

Sandefur, Timothy, Equality of Opportunity in the Regulatory Age: Why Yesterday's Rationality Review Isn't Enough. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=656086

Timothy Sandefur (Contact Author)

Goldwater Institute ( email )

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