We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Suspect Class?

By Christopher John
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
MyLawQuestions is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At MyLawQuestions, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

In the U.S., a suspect class is a legal term referring to a group that has suffered a history of discrimination. To qualify as a suspect class, a group must meet certain factors established by the U.S. Supreme Court. Groups that do not meet all the factors fall into a quasi-suspect category. Courts use these classifications to decide what level of review to give governmental action that may violate the constitutional rights of individuals belonging to a particular class. The levels of review consist of strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny, and rational basis.

A group that meets the following criteria is a suspect class. One, a group must have suffered a history of discrimination. Two, the group must lack political power. Three, the group must have an immutable trait such as skin color. Four, the group must be a separate and distinct minority.[

Some groups may not satisfy all the factors. In these instances, the courts may consider the group a quasi-suspect class. For example, the Supreme Court classified women as a quasi-suspect class because they have suffered a history of discrimination, lacked political power, and their gender is an immutable trait. Laws that classify people based on gender, legitimacy, disability, and sexual orientation have fallen into the quasi-suspect category.

The classifications determine what level of review courts are required to use when deciding whether governmental action violates the constitutional rights of individuals in a particular class. For a suspect class, the court uses strict scrutiny, which is the toughest level of review. This test requires the government to prove that its law or action is necessary to achieve a compelling government interest. Further, there must be no other means for the government to achieve its objective. Most governmental actions cannot survive this test; if so, a court would rule that that the government is violating the U.S. Constitution. Race, religion, and national origin usually trigger strict scrutiny.

For a quasi-suspect class, courts apply intermediate scrutiny. This level of review requires the government to prove that its action is substantially related to achieving an important government interest. In one case, a state law allowed a husband to dispose of property he jointly owned with his wife without having to obtain her consent. The state could not prove that its law was substantially related to achieving an important government interest. As a result, the Supreme Court ruled that the state law was in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Courts apply a rational basis test when the other levels of review are inappropriate to a situation. Under this test, there is no constitutional violation as long as the government action has a rational relationship to achieving any legitimate government interest. This is a difficult test to fail. Unlike strict scrutiny and intermediate scrutiny, this test places the burden of proof on the person challenging the government’s action. This means that the challenger must convince a court that the government is violating the Constitution in implementing an apparently reasonable law or regulation.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.