Free Exercise Clause Essay

Total Length: 772 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 3

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Free exercise clause

1. Why does this clause raise equal protection issues instead of substantive due process concerns?

Equal protection requires that no person may be denied equal protection or be discriminated by any governmental body through its laws. To this effect, all individuals must be treated in the same manner as in the same circumstances and conditions (Blair, 1997). On the other hand, substantive due process seeks to guard a right that might not be expressed elsewhere in the constitution (Fenster, 2014). With this background, it is obvious that the state statute bears more weight as a matter of equal protection and not as a substantive due process right. Motorcycle users, in this case, are required to wear protective helmets when on the state’s highways, despite the fact they are not the only users of the state’s highways. This, therefore, raises equal protection issues. This would have been a substantive due process issue if the state required motorcycle users to use the state highways in a particular isolative manner, e.g. rise on a specific side of the highway only.

2. The three levels of scrutiny used by courts

In this case, Jim Alderman will first need to prove that the state has discriminated against him as a licensed motorcycle operator, and prove how this statute has actually harmed him as an individual.
The court will then use the three levels of scrutiny which are rational basis scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny, and strict scrutiny (Blair, 1997).

Rational basis scrutiny is used by the court to determine the constitutionality of the statute. To satisfy this scrutiny, the statute must be rationally related to a legitimate state interest.

Intermediate scrutiny tests a statute’s constitutionality and it is only invoked when the state has a statute that affects certain protected classes negatively. To satisfy the intermediate scrutiny, the statute must (1) promote a vital state interest and (2) do so in a way(s) that is/are substantially in relation to the interest.

Strict scrutiny is the highest standard and it is applied when a plaintiff sues a governmental body for discrimination. To satisfy this level, the statute has to have been passed to promote compelling interests of the state and be narrowly tailored to achieve the interest.

Relying on precedent, the court determines the scrutiny level to apply; however, a court can apply tow or all three….....

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Blair, A. K. (1997). Constitutional Equal Protection, Strict Scrutiny, and the Politics of Marriage Law. Cath. UL Rev., 47, 1231.

Fenster, M. (2014). Substantive Due Process by Another Name: Koontz, Exactions, and the Regulatory Takings Doctrine. TOuRO L. REv., 30, 403.

Johns, R., & Sedgwick, A. (1999). Protecting People from Themselves. In Law for Social Work Practice (pp. 162-192). Palgrave, London.

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