equal protection


: a guarantee under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that a state must treat an individual or class of individuals the same as it treats other individuals or classes in like circumstances

Examples of equal protection in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web What happened to Shepard was so undeniably horrific that advocates and allies — as well as Shepard’s family — would go on to mobilize for specific causes such as hate crime legislation, and more generally around the humanity of LGBTQ+ people, demanding equal protection and equal rights. Tracy Brown, Los Angeles Times, 11 Oct. 2023 Bonta in Monday’s lawsuit argued the policy violates the California Constitution by infringing on the students’ equal protection rights by unlawfully discriminating against transgender and gender nonconforming students by singling them out to different and unfavorable treatment. Reuters, NBC News, 29 Aug. 2023 The new program gave migrants equal protection under labor law. Max Kim, Los Angeles Times, 30 Oct. 2023 But the federal court of appeals found Monday that Burke’s injunction was ‘erroneous,’ saying the law did not violate due process or equal protection. Savannah Tryens-Fernandes | Stryens-Fernandes@al.com, al, 21 Aug. 2023 The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 last month that Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill did not comply with the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection in their admissions processes. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, 13 July 2023 The Alabama case was governed by the Voting Rights Act, the landmark civil rights statute, and the one from South Carolina by the Constitution’s equal protection clause. Adam Liptak, New York Times, 11 Oct. 2023 Lawyers took the ruling that held the universities' admissions policies violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment one step further, seeking to challenge big law firms with DEI initiatives and even taking on some of their clients with similar hiring initiatives. Kaelan Deese, Washington Examiner, 19 Sep. 2023 Some legal experts have hinted at due process violations as well as concerns about encroachment under the equal protection clause. Rayna Reid Rayford, Essence, 15 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'equal protection.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1868, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of equal protection was in 1868

Dictionary Entries Near equal protection

Cite this Entry

“Equal protection.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equal%20protection. Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Legal Definition

equal protection

: a guarantee under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that a state must treat an individual or class of individuals the same as it treats other individuals or classes in like circumstances

called also equal protection of the law

see also rational basis test, strict scrutiny, suspect classification

Note: The equal protection requirement of the Constitution protects against legislation that affects individuals differently without a rational basis for doing so. In reviewing claims of denial of equal protection, a court will uphold legislation that has a rational basis unless the legislation affects a fundamental right or involves a suspect classification, such as race. In such a case, the court will use a strict scrutiny standard of review and will strike down legislation that does not show a compelling need for discriminating.

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