Romer v. Evans Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Colorado voters adopted Amendment two to their State Constitution, precluding the government from adopting measures that would protect homosexuals from discrimination. The state trial court enjoined enforcement of the act.

Facts of the case

“Colorado voters adopted Amendment 2 to their State Constitution precluding any judicial, legislative, or executive action designed to protect persons from discrimination based on their “”homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships.”” Following a legal challenge by homosexual and other aggrieved parties, the state trial court entered a permanent injunction enjoining Amendment 2’s enforcement. The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed on appeal.”

Question

Did Amendment two violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution)?

Answer

Yes. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Colorado is affirmed.
Justice Anthony Kennedy stated that Amendment two relegates homosexuals to a solitary class and withdraws from them, but no others, legal protections arising from discrimination. Its reach includes the State’s public accommodation laws, as well as laws prohibiting discrimination in the housing, insurance and education markets. A law making it more difficult for one group of citizens to seek assistance from the government than another is a denial of the Equal Protection of the laws in the most literal sense (i.e. the means do not fit whatever ends sufficiently to pass rational basis review).
Moreover, the means of Amendment two are so broad in relation to its ends (to prevent the deterioration of sexual morality) that we cannot credit them. The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) is left with the conclusion that Amendment two constitutes a classification for its own sake. Class legislation is obnoxious to the Fourteenth Amendment. (i.e., the ends are illegitimate).

Conclusion

Amendment 2 violated the Equal Protection clause, U.S. Const. amend. XIV, because the classification was unrelated to any legitimate state interest. Amendment 2 withdrew from homosexuals, but no others, specific legal protection from the injuries caused by discrimination, and it forbid reinstatement of protective laws and policies. Amendment 2 thus classified homosexuals not to further a proper legislative end but to make them unequal to everyone else.

  • Case Brief: 1996
  • Petitioner: Romer
  • Respondent: Evans
  • Decided by: Rehnquist Court

Citation: 517 US 620 (1996)
Argued: Oct 10, 1995
Decided: May 20, 1996