Strict scrutiny

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Part of the series on
U.S. Discrimination Law
Standards of Review

Rational basis review
Intermediate scrutiny
Strict scrutiny

Other Legal Theories

Substantive due process
State action doctrine

Defining Moments in Law

The 14th Amendment
Plessy v. Ferguson
Brown v. Board of Education
Loving v. Virginia
U.S. v. Virginia
Romer v. Evans
Lawrence v. Texas

Modalities of Constitutional Law


Strict scrutiny is a form of constitutional review that is used to determine the validity of legislation that discriminates on the basis of suspect categories, such as race. Under Strict Scrutiny review, a statute can be found valid if the statute is narrowly tailored to an important governmental objective.[1] It has been said that strict scrutiny is strict in theory, but fatal in fact.

Currently, the only "suspect classifications" to which strict scrutiny applies are race,[2] religion,[3] and national origin.[4] Sexual orientation has been given a quasi-suspect classification.[5]


  1. Loving v. Virginia, 338 U.S. 1
  2. Brown v. Board of Education
  3. Yick Wo v. Hopkins (118 U.S. 356)
  4. Korematsu v. U.S. (323 U.S. 214)
  5. Romer v. Evans, see also Lawrence v. Texas