Equal Protection Clause
The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment embodies the ethical idea that law should not treat people differently without a satisfactory reason. This generally protects citizens from discrimination under the law or through government action based upon their exercise of a fundamental right or based upon race, gender, and ethnicity. This clause focused on the historical discrimination present from the days of involuntary servitude. It forced upon state governments the Civil Rights Act of 1866.
⁃ Example: The Equal Protection Clause prohibits a state from penalizing criminal conduct of a particular race more severely than the same conduct by another race.
⁃ Discussion: Can you think of historical incidences where state laws have been held unconstitutional per the Equal Protection Clause? Hint: Think of voting and education rights.
⁃ Practice Question: State A passes a law that all Hispanics in the state must provide proof of citizenship and residence prior to registering children for public school. Does this provision violate any Constitutional protections?