CourtSpeak: Famous “Footnote Four”
in U.S. v. Carolene Products Co.

Race and Equal Protection Read more from
Chapter The Hughes Court (1930–41)

Justice Harlan Stone: “There may be narrower scope for operation of the presumption of constitutionality when legislation appears on its face to be within a specific prohibition of the Constitution, such as those of the first ten Amendments, which are deemed equally specific when held to be embraced within the Fourteenth.

“It is unnecessary to consider now whether legislation which restricts those political processes which can ordinarily be expected to bring about repeal of undesirable legislation, is to be subjected to more exacting judicial scrutiny under the general prohibitions of the Fourteenth Amendment than are most other types of legislation….

“Nor need we enquire whether similar considerations enter into the review of statute directed at particular religious or national or racial minorities; whether prejudice against discrete and insular minorities may be a special condition, which tends seriously to curtail the operation of those political processes ordinarily to be relied upon to protect minorities, and which may call for a correspondingly more searching judicial scrutiny.”


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