City of New Orleans and Dukes

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City of New Orleans v. Dukes
427 U.S. 297, 96 S. Ct. 2513, 49 L. Ed. 2d 51 (1976)

Facts: In an effort to preserve the atmosphere of the French Quarter the city of New Orleans passed an ordinance that prohibited all pushcarts except those that had been in operation for 8+ years. Dukes who had been a pushcart vendor for only 2 years challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance under the Equal Protection Clause(EPC) with support from Morey v. Doud. The Court of Appeals held the law unconstitutional, and the city appealed to the Supreme Court. Issue: Is the ordinance unconstitutional due to EPC?

Judgment: No.
Reasoning: Unless legislation infringes "fundamental personal rights or suspect classifications such as race, religion, or alienage", then the law is presumed constitutional. The only requirement is that "the classification challenged be rationally related to a legitimate state interest." The Court of Appeals ruled that the rationality test failed. They ruled that the "grandfather provision" was not rational. The Supreme Court ruled that the City of New Orleans did pass the rationality test. The city had identified its objective as to, "preserve the appearance and custom valued by the Quarter's residents and attractive to tourists". Since Morey v. Doud is the only case in the last half century to invalidate an economic regulation based solely on the EPC the Supreme Court found it reasonable to find that the decision was erroneous. The Supreme Court concluded that "the equal protection analysis employed in that opinion should no longer be followed."
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