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LO-06+Equal+Rights+Struggle

LO-06+Equal+Rights+Struggle - The Struggle for Equal Rights...

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The Struggle for Equal Rights The Meaning of “Political Equality” People not born with equal Americans generally believe people should be o treated equally under law & o provided equal opportunity This means, as minimum, share equal procedural guarantees But more: It means o people should not be treated differently because race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, wealth, etc o If they are we call this “discrimination” Nevertheless people have been/are treated unequally Why are people treated unequally? Rights are power o To preserve our current values To preserve our sense of superiority Role of Government: To decide which characteristics may fairly be the basis for unequal treatment & under what circumstances? Role of the Supreme Court Has played a major role and views have changed over time Legal Classifications – when SC reviews laws that treat people differently it looks for some specific characteristics in those laws 1
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1 st : Suspect o SC subjects such laws to heightened level of examination Strict Scrutiny o Govt must have a compelling state interest for the law to stand 2 nd : Quasisuspect Classifications o SC subjects such laws to an intermediate standard of review o Govt must have an important state interest 3 rd : Nonsuspect Classifications o SC subjects such laws to the minimum rationality test o Govt must have a rational basis for making the law Fight for “Suspect Status” Groups wish to gain “suspect status” because o SC unlikely to permit any laws that treat them differently Kinds of Equality Procedural: equal opportunity Substantive: equal outcomes Rights denied on the basis of race: African Americans The Problem of Racism o morally wrong. o counterproductive in practice Before Civil War o 4 million slaves in South o 1/2 million blacks elsewhere 2
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o But they did not enjoy full rights of citizenship o Dred Scott v. Sanford – 1857 Blacks can’t be citizens because founding fathers had not intended it At that time they were considered an inferior & subordinate class of beings Even in North public opinion not in favor of rights for blacks E.g. Iowa, Wisconsin, N.Y. reject black suffrage (1857 & 1860 referenda) Aftermath of the Civil War o 13th Amendment - bans slavery - Dec 1865 o But “Black codes” o Reconstruction o Some progress o
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