Although the concept of equal protection of the laws is not mentioned in the original U.S. Constitution as drafted and ratified, this idea has become an important constitutional concept, especially in the world of higher education. Equal protection does not require identical treatment of all people in all situations. Instead, when the federal or state governments, through their officials, make distinctions between and among individuals, the courts employ equal protection analysis by looking at the specific distinctions and applying a corresponding level of scrutiny to determine whether the government action is constitutional.

Courts employ equal protection analysis when governmental officials treat people differently based on specified characteristics such as race, gender, or age. Courts also rely on equal protection analysis when governmental entities create distinctions among ...

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