Equal Justice Under Law
The words “equal justice under law” paraphrase an earlier expression coined in 1891 by the Supreme Court. Cabraser, Elizabeth. “The Essentials of Democratic Mass Litigation”, Columbia Journal of Law & Social Problems, Vol. 45, p. 499 (Summer 2012).
Peccarelli, Anthony. “The Meaning of Justice”, DuPage County Bar Association Brief (March 2000), via Archive.org. In the case of Caldwell v. Texas, Chief Justice Melville Fuller wrote on behalf of a unanimous Court as follows, regarding the Fourteenth Amendment: “the powers of the States in dealing with crime within their borders are not limited, but no State can deprive particular persons or classes of persons of equal and impartial justice under the law.” the Supreme Court has often connected the words “equal justice under law” with the Fourteenth Amendment.
For example, in the 1958 case of Cooper v. Aaron, the Court said: “The Constitution created a government dedicated to equal justice under law. The words “equal justice under law” are not in the Constitution, which instead says that no state shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The words “Equal Justice” are found at 8 Stat 100-105 and 8 Stat 484-487.
Pericles said according to the Funeral Oration, translated by Rex Warner (1954) that a person’s wealth or prominence should not influence his eligibility for public employment or affect the justice he receives. Similarly, Chief Justice Hughes defended the inscription “equal justice under law” by referring to the judicial oath of office, which requires judges to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich. McGurn, Barrett. “Slogans to Fit the Occasion”, pp. 170-174, United States Supreme Court Yearbook (1982). Decades later, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall made a similar point: “The principles which would have governed with $10,000 at stake should also govern when thousands have become billions. That is the essence of equal justice under law.” Pennzoil v. Texaco, 481 U.S. 1 (1987) (Thurgood Marshall, concurring in the judgment).
Equal Protection under the Thirteenth Amendment In the Civil Rights cases Mr. Justice Harlan argued, quite correctly it is suggested, that as to Negroes the Thirteenth Amendment invalidates” all discriminations against them, because of their race, in respect of such civil rights as belong to freemen of other races.” Civil Rights Cases, supra note 64. However, when the racial discrimination or other imposed inequality amounts to peon-age, the Thirteenth Amendment perforce strikes down the in equality. The Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment applies only to the Federal Government. The Fifth Amendment does not include an equal protection guarantee. However, in Bolling v. Sharpe 347 U.S. 497 (1954), the Supreme Court held the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause to include an equal protection element identical in effect to that of the fourteenth amendment. And, the following year, 1948, the Court, although not specifically referring to the Fifth Amendment, indicated very positively that equal protection is “a part of the public policy of the United States.”
John Doe v. Poritz, 142 N.J. 1 (N.J. 1995) “The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment commands that no State shall `deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,’ which is essentially a direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike.” City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 U.S. 432, 439, 105 S.Ct. 3249, 3254, 87 L.Ed.2d 313, 320 (1985).
Although the term “equal protection” does not appear anywhere in the New Jersey Constitution, Article I, paragraph 1 of our Constitution has been interpreted as conferring the right to equal treatment under the law, a right analogous to the guarantee of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution. Barone, supra, 107 N.J. at 367, 526 A.2d 1055 (citing Greenberg, supra, 99 N.J. at 568, 494 A.2d 294). Although conceptually similar, the right under the State Constitution can in some situations be broader than the right conferred by the Equal Protection Clause. Right to Choose, supra, 91 N.J. 287 , 450 A.2d 925 (holding that statute which satisfies federal equal protection requirements violates equal protection under State Constitution).
Washington National Ins. Co. v. Board of Review, 1 N.J. 545 (N.J. 1949) The equal protection clause means that the right of all persons must rest upon the same rule under similar circumstances, and that it applies to the exercise of all the powers of the state which can affect the individual or his property, including the power of taxation. Louisville Gas Electric Co. v. Coleman, 277 U.S. 32, 48 S.Ct. 423, 72 L.Ed. 770 (1928).
While the due process and equal protection guaranties are not coterminous in their spheres of protection, equality of right is fundamental in both. Each forbids class legislation arbitrarily discriminatory against some and favoring others in like circumstances. It is essential that the classification itself be reasonable and not arbitrary, and be based upon material and substantial distinctions and differences reasonably related to the subject matter of the legislation or considerations of policy, and that there be uniformity within the class. The equal protection of the laws means that no person or class of persons shall be denied the protection of the laws enjoyed by other persons or classes of persons under similar conditions and circumstances, in their lives, liberty, and property, and in the pursuit of happiness, both as respects privileges conferred and burdens imposed. Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection Insurance Co. v. Harrison, 301 U.S. 459, 57 S.Ct. 838, 81 L.Ed. 1223 (1937 ); Old Dearborn Distributing Co. v. Seagram-Distillers Corporation, 299 U.S. 183, 57 S.Ct. 139, 81 L.Ed. 109 (1936 ); Concordia Fire Insurance Co. v. Illinois, 292 U.S. 535, 54 S.Ct. 830, 78 L.Ed. 1411 (1934 ); Sproles v. Binford, 286 U.S. 374, 52 S.Ct. 581, 76 L.Ed. 1167 (1932 ); Kentucky Finance Corporation v. Paramount Auto Exchange Corporation, 262 U.S. 544, 43 S.Ct. 636, 67 L.Ed. 1112 (1923 ); Truax v. Corrigan, 257 U.S. 312, 42 S.Ct. 124, 66 L.Ed. 254 (1921 ); Smith v. Texas, 233 U.S. 630, 34 S.Ct. 681, 58 L.Ed. 1129 (1914 ); Atchison, Topeka Santa Fe R. Co. v. Matthews, 174 U.S. 96, 19 S.Ct. 609, 43 L.Ed. 909 (1899). This includes equality of exemption from liabilities. Cotting v. Kansas City Stock Yards Company, c., 183 U.S. 79, 22 S.Ct. 30, 46 L.Ed. 92 (1901).
In this case, Hurd v. Hodge, the Court stated that it would violate this policy” to permit federal courts in the Nation’s capital to exercise general equity powers to compel action denied the states where such action has been held to be violative of the guarantee of equal protection of the laws. 334U.S.24, 35(1948).
Equality under the Privileges and Immunities Clauses under Article IV, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, non-citizens of a state are assured that in their “fundamental” privileges and immunities they will be accorded equality with citizens of the state. Corfield v. Coryell, 6 Fed. Cas. No.1312 at 551 (E.D.Pa.1823). Mitchell v. United States, supra note 77; Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat.1 (U.S.1824); Houston, East & W. Texas Ry. Co. v. United States, 234 U.S.342 (1914); Railroad Commission v. Chicago, B.& Q. Rr., 25 7 U.S. 563 (1922). Comment, 40 Mica. L. Rv. 711, 728 (1942). Note, 42 COL.L. Rev. 139, 140 (1942).