The interaction of two OK statutes prohibits the sale of 3.2% beer to males under 21 and females under 18.
The statutes are challenged on the grounds that the gender based differential constitutes a denial to males 18-20 years old of the equal protection of the laws in violation of the 14th amendment.
SCOTUS held laws unconstitutional.
What is the correct level of judicial scrutiny for gender based classifications?
Gender based classifications should be tested using intermediate scrutiny.
Classifications by gender must serve important governmental objectives and must be substantially related to achievement of those objectives.
The objective underlying the laws if the enhancement of traffic safety.
The statistics cited by the state fail to prove that the gender-based distinction closely serves to achieve that objective.
The stats broadly establish that .18% of females and 2% of males in that age group were arrested for DUI.
While such a disparity is not trivial in a statistical sense, it hardly can form the basis for employment of a gender line as a classifying device.
A correlation of 2% must be considered an unduly tenuous fit.
Prior cases have consistently rejected the use of sex as a decision making factor even though the statutes in question certainly rested on far more predictive empirical relationships than this.
Indeed, the only survey that explicitly centered its attention upon young drivers and their use of beer reached results that hardly can be viewed as impressive in justifying either a gender or age classification.
The Court was wrong in two ways…
The Court used the wrong standard.
The OK statutes should only have to pass the rational basis test. And it would.
The Court's enunciation of the wrong standard is even wrong.
None of our previous case use language like that used here.
Both parts of the test are so elastic as to invite subjective judicial preferences or prejudices.
The Court's criticism of the statistics relied upon conveys the impression that a legislature is to be subjected to the judicial equivalent of a doctoral examination in stats.
The OK legislature could have believed that the status were correct and would have a rational basis for making them.