What Criteria Can Government Use To Discriminate Against Citizens?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by ThisIsNotMe, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. ThisIsNotMe Suspended

    Aug 11, 2008
    What criteria can (the United States) government use to discriminate against citizens or treat them unequally?
  2. Ricky Smith macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2006
    Boston, MA
  3. MorphingDragon macrumors 603


    Mar 27, 2009
    The World Inbetween
    With the right amount of guns, whatever they feel like.
  4. bradl macrumors 68040


    Jun 16, 2008
    Uhh.. the US government can't. Various acts and Constitutional Amendments prevent it. Civil Rights Act of 1964, post-Civil War amendments (13th, 14th, 15th), 19th Amendment, VAWA, etc. The government is extremely limited from treating its citizens unequally, as it should be..

  5. mcrain macrumors 68000


    Feb 8, 2002
    Obviously the government can discriminate against people who have brown skin, black skin, female genitalia or happen to like members of the same sex. Duh. All you have to do to know that is true is pay attention to the GOP.
  6. Gelfin macrumors 68020


    Sep 18, 2001
    Denver, CO
    The government may treat citizens unequally under the law when there is a rational, legitimate state interest in doing so. Convicted felons, for instance, are routinely deprived of their liberty. This is permissible because the state interest in maintaining order is clear.

    We have the legal presumption of equality, and any citizen may bring a lawsuit challenging whether a law or its application meets a sufficient standard to justify discriminatory treatment. In evaluating whether a law is justifiable, the courts take into account whether the discrimination happens along a line demarcating a class of people with a history of adverse discrimination against them. This is called a "suspect class" because it triggers heightened suspicion that wrongful discrimination might be taking place.

    In the simplest case, where no suspect classification can be identified (e.g., the class of "people who own only a cell phone, but no land line") the government must only demonstrate that there is a "rational basis" for the discrimination. Classes defined along lines that may carry some history of adverse discrimination, but are also known to entail legally relevant distinctions (e.g., gender) bear "intermediate scrutiny" and classifications that entail a strong history of hostile prejudice unrelated to their ability to function as members of society (e.g., race) demand "strict scrutiny." Under strict scrutiny the government must prove not only that there is a legitimate purpose to the discrimination, but also that there is no narrower or non-discriminatory law that could achieve the same legitimate purpose.
  7. Huntn macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    Do you have an opinion?
  8. classicaliberal macrumors regular


    Jul 19, 2011
    'Discrimination' has gotten a bad rap over the past few decades, because the only context it's discussed in is bad discrimination in the form of racial discrimination, etc.

    Discrimination in and of itself can be a very good thing. I discriminate all the time. If I'm hiring someone to help me move a refrigerator, I don't hire someone with a broken arm. If I'm hiring someone to manage my Grandfather's estate, I don't hire a convicted felon. In fact, I will actively discriminate against people with broken arms or legal convictions in these cases.

    Generally, discrimination against people for things they can not control is not ok, and discrimination against things that people can control is ok.

    However, there are some very important discrimination which I think current law fails to protect. For instance, If I'm opening a restaurant that specializes in beautiful attractive wait staff, and we're serving an almost exclusive female demographic, I think it should be within my right to discriminate based on physical appearance and sex. Regardless of whether the person could control that aspect of themselves or not.

    Similarly, I think the Boy Scouts should be able to discriminate against females, I think the congressional Black Caucus should be able to discriminate against white members of congress, I think an 'African American' scholarship fund should be able to do the same, and so on and so forth. When I get a babysitter for my newborn baby daughter, I might discriminate against males... isn't that my right to be a protective father and want to reduce risk to my family in whatever way I please?

    The problem is how you separate logical common sense discrimination from ignorant unfortunate discrimination, especially at the government level which we're all funding. That's when things get really complex.

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