naomichaney

Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190 (1976)

In Politics on 07/10/2009 at 7:34 PM

FACTS: Oklahoma passed a law prohibiting the sale on “nonintoxicating” 3.2 percent beer to males under the age of 21, but allowed females over the age of 18 to purchase said beer. The statute was challenged as Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection violation by Curtis Craig, a male between the ages of 18 and 21 and by an Oklahoma vendor of alcohol.

ISSUE: Did this Oklahoma Statute violate the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause by establishing different drinking ages for men and women.

REASONING: Justice Brennan: The gender classifications made by the Oklahoma statute were unconstitutional because the statistics relied on by the state were insufficient to show a substantial relationship between the statute and the benefits intended to stem from it. Furthermore, the Court found that the analysis of the Equal Protection Clause in this case had not been changed by the subsequently passed Twenty-first Amendment. The Court came up with an Intermediate Scrutiny, whereby the state must prove the existence of specific important governmental objectives, and that the law must be substantially related to the achievement of those opinions, if gender is used as a classification. As to third party rights, the court, expanding on the doctrine of standing, held that the vendors of 3.2% beer will be economically affected due to the restrictive nature of the sales to males between 18 and 20. To have standing, one must show a “nexus” of the injury to themselves and the constitutional violation of the statute. In this case, the statute only directly affects plaintiff Craig. Only indirectly does it affect the vendor, Whitener, the third party. The Supreme Court explains that Whitener and other vendors have standing “by acting as advocates of the rights of third parties who seek access to their market or function”.

DECISION: Reversed

RULE: The Oklahoma Statue violates the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause by establishing different drinking ages for men and women.

NOTES AND COMMENTS: In a 7-to-2 decision, the Court held that the statute made unconstitutional gender classifications. The Court held that the statistics relied on by the state of Oklahoma were insufficient to show a substantial relationship between the law and the maintenance of traffic safety. Generalities about the drinking habits of aggregate groups did not suffice. The Court also found that the Twenty-first Amendment did not alter the application of the Equal Protection Clause in the case.

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