Equal Protection Held Hostage: Ransoming the Constitutionality of the Hostage Taking Act

01 Jan 1997

This Article contends that, following the Supreme Court's lead in Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Peña and City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Centers, Inc., the continuing maltreatment of noncitizens in this country requires that federal alienage classifications be reviewed with the same strict, or at least heightened rational basis, scrutiny applied to state legislation.

Part II of this Article describes the 1979 Hostage Taking Convention and sets forth some of its provisions in an effort to better understand the impetus for the HTA. Part III examines the legislative history of the HTA and briefly describes the Yunis case as the prototypical hostage-taking action that the HTA was designed to address. Part IV reviews the constitutionality of the HTA under equal protection guarantees as interpreted by the most recent court decisions. Part V suggests an alternative to the courts' ready willingness to find a rational basis for federal enforcement of the HTA - one in which the courts, under the lens of a more heightened scrutiny, require the federal government to demonstrate how the hostage-taking act at issue bears some rational relationship to foreign relations.