Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Karen M. Staller
The concept of equal protection originates in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In part, it reads: “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” (emphasis added). The seemingly simple clause has generated significant public debates over its interpretation and usage. Among these is whether the framers were concerned primarily with equality of the laws or protection of the laws. Various alternative framings and interpretations have generated a vocabulary of common expressions such as separate but equal and its converse of separate as inherently unequal, color-blind , or race conscious , as well as the terms equal opportunity, affirmative action , or preferential treatment reverse ...