Throughout this paper you will be reading how gender based laws such as statutory rape in California discriminate against males and not females. You may ask “why is this issue? ” well this is an issue because it goes against our 14th amendment which states all laws should protect both men and women equally. The case you are about to read is concerning this law. A law that discriminates against males, stating that even if they have sex at a young age women are the only ones to get hurt.
Studies have shown to prove otherwise. You will also read about how this law was put in place to prevent teen pregnancies. Now how this gender-based law preventing more pregnancies than a gender-neutral law? Michael M. v. Superior Court of Sonoma County concerns gender discrimination which is the inequality between the sexes. A seventeen year old male was convicted under California law for statutory rape of a female only one year younger than him; she was forced to have sex with him.
This was a case about two young adults, one not consenting to sex and the other forcing her to have sex. Under the law men, but not women, are liable for statute. This makes it illegal to have sex with a female under eighteen, whether or not she consents. The reason why the court felt this law should be in place was because they felt there was a greater risk for women then for men. There is no argument against the fact that the boy should be punished for his acts but not under statutory rape. Debates about this case can go both ways.
One can say that California law does not discriminate against men or women, which was argued by Justice Rehnquist. Justice Rehnquist said, “the statute protects women from sexual intercourse and pregnancy at an age when the physical, emotional, and psychological consequences are particularly severe. Because virtually all of the significant harmful and identifiable consequences of teenage pregnancy fall on the female, a legislature acts well within its authority when it elects to punish only the participant who, by nature, suffers few of the consequences of his conduct.
” Critics argue that “an age limit cannot be used to determine the ability to consent to sex, since a young teenager might possess enough social sense to make informed and mature decisions about sex, while some adults might never develop the ability to make mature choices about sex, as even many mentally healthy individuals remain naive and easily manipulated throughout their lives. ” Some people mature at a younger age than others. It is more about mental capability than of age and there is not proven way to determine metal capability and average the age that people reach that stage.
The other way it can go is that California law is discriminating based on sex and not upholding the main reason why the law was put in place, which is to prevent teenage pregnancies; this was argued by Justice Brennan. I will argue that Justice Brennan has the point of view that I support, in his saying that California law is flawed he is merely stating that the law should be formulated to where it is equal for both men and women. Justice Brennan said “the burden is on the government to prove both the importance of its asserted objective and the substantial relationship between the classification and that objective.
And the State cannot meet that burden without showing that a gender-neutral statute would be a less effective means of achieving that goal. Without any factual evidence or comparison, according to the dissenters it is difficult to tell whether a gender biased statute actually lowers teen pregnancy rates. ” The way the law is written discriminates against a male which is legally and ethically wrong. If it does not protect both men and women what is the point of it being instilled? This Law is a direct violation of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment.
This clause states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
” (constitution 14th amendment). Creating a law based on gender would go against the last sentence of this clause “nor deny to ANY person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. This law would protect women from being raped but it is leaves an opening for males to have sex with older women. Is this not statutory rape as well? California made this law to prevent teenage pregnancies, to scare off males from having sex at a younger age. It was not supposed to make criminals out of young men.
The legislature displays their sexual stereotyping and discrimination by stating that “The legislature is well within its power in imposing criminal sanctions against males, alone, because they are the only persons who may physiologically cause the result which the law properly seeks to avoid” (California Supreme Court). If as California supreme court says they are within their legal rights to discriminate if it is to uphold the main reason why the law was put in place, prevention of teen pregnancies, then they will have the burden of proof.
Their burden of proof is to provide documentation proving that there are fewer teenage pregnancies under its gender based statutory rape law than there would be if the law is generally neutral (Brennan). There is no hard evidence nor are their facts to support this allegation that a gender based law will scare off males, who are the only ones capable of coercing people to have sex, from having sex at a younger age. A state having just their word that a gender based law furthers an important governmental interest is not enough to meet this burden of proof.
They must have enough evidence to tip the scales ever so slightly in their favor to persuade the court that this gender based law is bringing about fewer teenage pregnancies. There is no proof or statistics that state the law that was put in place has prevented more teen pregnancies. So how is this Gender-Based law better then a Gender-neutral law? What is giving the state the right to make the law gender-base? The answer to that is nothing, they have no proof or facts to prove the burden.
Making a law based on gender is also ethically wrong. It tells women that they can do whatever they want and get away with it. It favors women in the eyes of the law. A gender neutral statutory rape law on the other hand would potentially be a greater deterrent of sexual activity than a gender based law; the reason being gender neutral law persecutes both men and women creating a greater deterrent because now neither male nor female would want to suggest being intimate. Justice Rednquist argues for the law to remain the same.
He gives examples of similar cases. For example he gives us the case Reed v Reed. This was an Equal Protection case in the United States in which the Supreme Court ruled that the administrators of estates cannot be named in a way that discriminates between sexes. He says this California law applies to this case because it bears a “fair and substantial relationship”. Fair is the word they use, the meaning of this word is in accordance with the rules and standards to be just. This example is flawed because this is not fair to males.
It gives protection to females but not to males, which once again is a direct violation of the fourteenth amendment. This is opposite of the definition of fair. Justice Rehnquist also compares this case to Craig v Boren which was the first case in which a majority of the United States Supreme Court determined that statutory or administrative sex classifications had to be subjected to an intermediate standard of judicial review. He goes on to state that this classification beard a “substantial relationship to important government objectives”.
This argument is also flawed because it is stating that is the law is beneficial it can be gender based. This law is not beneficial gender based it would be more beneficial neutral because it would scare of both male and female from having sex. It would abstain both parties and create a smaller risk of having teenage pregnancies which was the reason for the law in the first place. In conclusion we have seen that Statutory rape law in California is gender based. We have also seen that there is no proven data to show that there is a justification to having this law be gender based.
Proving that justice Brennan has the more sound argument, legally and ethically. Law are put in place to protect the people. If the law does not protect women and men equally like the constitution states then what is the point of that law being instilled. The answer to that question is none. Works Cited “Statutory Rape Laws by State. ” Statutory Rape Laws by State. N. p. , n. d. Web. 17 Nov. 2012. “What Is Statutory Rape? | Sexlaws. org. ” What Is Statutory Rape? | Sexlaws. org. N. p. , n. d. Web.
17 Nov. 2012. “Facts on American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health. ” Facts on American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health. N. p. , n. d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. “14th Amendment. ” LII. N. p. , n. d. Web. 23 Nov. 2012. Kelly, Martin. “14th AmendmentA Summary. ” About. com American History. N. p. , n. d. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. Arthur, John, and William H. Shaw. “Michael M. V. Sonoma County Superior Court. ” Readings in the Philosophy of Law. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001. N. pag. Print.