Anderson & Boback Logo

Will a Corporate Dispute be a Win for the LGBT community?

Categorized as Divorce Litigation

In a decision on Tuesday, January 21, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held in a corporate case, Smithkline Beecham Corporation, DBA GlaxoSmithKline v. Abbott Laboratories (GSK v. Abbott), that a party cannot dismiss a juror for being a homosexual. This case arose from a corporate dispute between GSK and Abbott regarding the pricing of HIV medications. While selecting the jury in this matter, Abbott used one of their strikes to dismiss the only juror who identified himself as a homosexual. GSK argued that Abbott could not strike the juror simply on the basis of sexual orientation. The Ninth Circuit held that, not only are classifications based on sexual orientation subject to heightened scrutiny, but it is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause to strike a juror based on sexual orientation. In order to understand why this is important, we must first discuss what the term “heightened scrutiny” means and how this could affect future legislation.

When analyzing whether a law or action that differentiates between certain groups of people violates the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution, Courts apply a standard of review based upon the group being allegedly discriminated against. There are three different standards of review: rational basis review, intermediate scrutiny, and strict scrutiny. The first, rational basis review, is the easiest standard of review to overcome. It simply states that, if a law differentiates between classes of people, there must be some rational reason for doing so. As a result, when a law is reviewed under this standard, it is almost always upheld. However, if the Court cannot think of a rational basis for the law, then the law will be deemed unconstitutional. Historically, rational basis review has been applied to cases involving classifications based on sexual orientation.

The second standard of review, intermediate scrutiny, states that the class must serve an important governmental objective and the means are substantially related to achieving that objective. Therefore, if the Court finds that there is no important government objective which justifies the alleged discrimination, then the law will be deemed a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. This standard is routinely applied to laws that differentiate classes of people based upon gender. Finally, the third standard of review, strict scrutiny, provides the highest level of protection and is the most difficult to overcome. This standard states that the means must be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest. Therefore, if the Court finds that there is no compelling government interest which justifies the alleged discrimination, then the law will be deemed unconstitutional. This standard is applied to laws that differentiate based upon race.

In GSK v. Abbott, the Court merely stated that sexual orientation is subject to a “heightened scrutiny” and even discussed why it was not specifying which heightened level of scrutiny to apply. Regardless, this case is currently being appealed to the United States Supreme Court, so it is not certain whether the Ninth Circuit’s decision will even stand. However, if it does, then the LGBT community as a whole will receive higher protection under the Equal Protection Clause than ever before.

Was this information helpful?

You May Also Like

The attitudes of Illinois family law judges about how children should be raised, and their time divided between parents, have changed significantly over the last fifty years or so. Judges used to believe, and rule--almost universally--that children needed to spend…

Recently, the Illinois Appellate court addressed the issue of the date used in determining dissipation as raised by the divorce case In Re Marriage of Sinha. (In re MARRIAGE OF JYOTI SINHA and MUKESHA K. SINHA, 2021 IL App (2d)…

Oftentimes while a family law case is pending, parents will need or want to move with their minor children. The child relocation law in Illinois as of 2021 indicated that you need to seek approval for relocation from the Court…

In Illinois, we have abolished using the term “custody” and now refer to parenting time as the schedule which dictates where the child resides, and when.  Clients often ask whether or not it matters if the child has an opinion…

If you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement on all of the issues of divorce, that is a great start to the process. In an uncontested divorce, once that agreement has been reached, or even before, the…

When parents end their relationship, it's rarely easy especially if there are disagreements over custody. As Chicago child custody attorneys, we're often asked for guidance on what you should bring up in a child custody case to show you are…

Anderson & Boback small logo

Download our Divorce Planning Guide today!

Get the information you need to prepare for divorce with our free resource Guide to Planning for Your Divorce.

What our clients are saying

Schedule a Discreet Consultation Today!

    Firm Overview

    Anderson & Boback is a highly-respected, experienced Chicago family law firm, skilled in negotiation and litigation. When divorce and other family law issues make your life chaotic and uncertain, you want your case resolved as quickly and fairly as possible. Call Now 312-715-0870