Legal Memorandum: Equal Protection Claims in LA

Issue: Will an Equal Protection claim survive absent any evidence of intentional racial discrimination?

Area of Law: Constitutional Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Equal protection claim; 14th Amendment; Dismissal of Summary judgement; Intentional race discrimination; discriminatory purpose
Jurisdiction: Louisiana
Cited Cases: 965 So. 2d 866; 477 So. 2d 1094; 489 So. 2d 286; 345 So. 2d 583
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 08/01/2011

Whether a class action or not, an Equal Protection claims should be dismissed on summary judgment if discovery uncovers no evidence of intentional race discrimination.  “Generally, the state constitutional guarantee of equal protection mandates that state laws affect alike all persons and interest similarly situated.  This guarantee does not, however, take away from the state all power of classification.”  State v. Baxley, 656 So. 2d 973, 977-78 (La. 1995); see also Daigle v. Jefferson Parish Sch. Bd., 345 So. 2d 583 (La. Ct. App. 4th Cir. 1977) (“‘The equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment does not take from the state the power to classify in the adoption of police laws, but admits of the exercise of a wide scope of discretion in that regard, and avoids what is done only when it is without any reasonable basis and therefore is purely arbitrary.'” (quoting Morey v. Doud, 354 U.S. 457, 77 S. Ct. 1344, 1 L. Ed. 2d 1485)).

The analysis of an Equal Protection Clause claim under Louisiana law is best described in Sibley v. Board of Supervisors of L.S.U., 477 So. 2d 1094 (La. 1985) and summarized in Johnson v. State, 965 So. 2d 866 (La. Ct. App. 1st Cir. 2006).  Johnson involved a black voter’s challenge to the state’s system for electing judges to the Baton Rouge City Court, arguing that the Plan violated his equal protection and due process rights by diluting his vote and having a racially disparate impact […]

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