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Chapter 10

EQUAL PROTECTION

The Equal Protection Clause is part of the Fourteenth Amendment. It provides that "no state shall make or enforce any law which shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws." Here are the key concepts concerning equal protection:

  •     Classifications: The Clause imposes a general restraint on the governmental use of classifications, not just classifications based on race but also those based on sex, alienage, illegitimacy, wealth, or any other characteristic.
  •     Federal government: The direct text of the Clause applies only to state governments. But the federal government is also bound by the same rules of equal protection — the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause is interpreted to bar the federal government from making any classification that would be a violation of the Equal Protection Clause if done by a state.
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