Craig v. Boren
429 U.S. 190 (1976)

  • Oklahoma had a Statute that set the drinking age at 21 for males, but only 18 for females. Several males sued, claiming that the law amounted to gender discrimination, and was therefore a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
    • Oklahoma argued that there was a rational basis for their Statute, namely a statistically analysis of drunk driving laws that said males were more likely to drive drunk than females.
      • See Reed v. Reed (404 U.S. 71 (1971)), which held that the proper level of judicial review for gender discrimination was rational basis review.
    • The male drinkers argued that the vague statistical analysis could not support a strict scrutiny review, as used in Frontiero v. Richardson (411 U.S. 677 (1973)).
  • The US Supreme Court found the Oklahoma law an unconstitutional violation of due process.
    • The US Supreme Court found that in cases of gender discrimination, neither strict scrutiny nor rational basis was the proper level of review.
    • Instead, the Court decided to use intermediate scrutiny.
      • Intermediate scrutiny asks if a regulation involves important governmental interests that are furthered by substantially related means.
    • The Court found that the statistics weren’t related substantially enough to the Statute to withstand intermediate scrutiny.
  • This case set the standard that intermediate scrutiny is the proper level of judicial review for cases of gender discrimination.
    • Intermediate Scrutiny is used because the Justices weren’t ready to state that gender is a suspect classification, but they wanted to acknowledge that gender discrimination is pervasive and based on immutable characteristics, and so deserved more than just rational basis review.