Legislative Enforcement of Equal Protection

01 Jan 1988

This Article explores the legislative role in enforcing the constitutional guarantee to equal protection. Part I describes the underenforcement principle that explains the restrictive judicial exercise of authority in constitutional matters. The Article then focuses on Congress' role in examining issues relating to the constitutional guarantee of equal protection that the courts have chosen to underenforce. Part II analyzes relevant constitutional provisions that may empower or limit congressional actions. Part III considers ways in which Congress can address state violations of equal protection through directives to the judiciary and through the legislative process. Part IV details how both federal and state legislatures can implement equal protection guarantees in everyday legislation. Finally, Part V distinguishes between constitutionally motivated decision-making and conscientious decision-making within the legislature and discusses the political implications of a legislative process that directly addresses the constitutionality of equal protection issues.