What is the law that banned discrimination?
Various laws have restricted certain kinds of discrimination in
the United States. Like State Legislatures, the Congress of the
United States has the power to pass statutes regulating a wide
range of activity. The 1964 Civil Rights Act, for example, placed
limits on discrimination (among other things) in the workplace and
at businesses that are open to the public.
The decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States are
another source of law because Supreme Court decisions that
interpret the Constitution become the supreme law of the land.
Responding to various cases and controvercies that have come before
it, the Court has repeatedly ruled that no government entity may
discriminate on the basis of race without meeting what is called
"strict scrutiny." For governmental discrimination on the basis of
race to stand, the government must show both a "compelling
interest" and show that no less restrictive means would meet that
interest. The practical impact of this requirement is that
virtually all governmental race discrimination is prohibited. (One
important exception is affirmative action.)
The Supreme Court has similarly ruled that no governmental
entity may discriminate on the basis of gender without meeting what
the Court calls "intermediate scrutiny." In contrast to strict
scrutiny, which requires a compelling governmental interest and
narrowly tailored means to that end, the intermediate scrutiny test
is slightly easier to pass. To pass intermediate scrutiny and
permissibly discriminate on the basis of gender, a governmental
entitly must prove an important government interest and must prove
the means used to reach that end are substantially related to that
While there has not yet been a law that bans all forms of
discrimination in all contexts, stautes passed by Congress and
rulings of the Supreme Court have worked together to combat many of
discrimination's harmful effects.