Jesse H. Choper and Stephen F. Ross,
The Political Process, Equal Protection, and Substantive Due Process, 20
U. Pa. J. Const. L.
In its landmark decision in Carolene Products, the Supreme Court crafted a uniquely American solution to the counter-majoritarian dilemma present in any constitutional democracy: when unelected judges should substantively review policy choices made by elected legislators and executives. The political process theory underlying that decision is that a court with a history of decisions based onjudicial ideology should limit close review of government actions to three situations: (1) when the action contravenes a specific provision of the Bill of Rights, (2) when the action threatens to improperly limit the political process, or (3) with regard to the broadly worded Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, when courts determine that the political process does not work normally. The Supreme Court has not faith/idly implemented this approach over the years. However, neither Justices nor commentators have developed a superior alternative approach. We believe that most Americans ought to prefer a return to Carolene Products, as superior (either philosophically or because of risk aversion) to leaving important constitutionalp recedents subject to the vagaries of highly partisanp olitics. Our approach builds upon instghis ofjustices Harlan Fiske Stone, Robert Jackson, and Thurgood Marshall. First, courts should consider challenges initially under the Equal Protection Clause. Second, the category of cases warranting heightened judicial scrutiny should be expanded to include those in which claimants can prove that they are excluded from the Madisonian factional "wheeling and dealing" that characterizes ordinary politics. Third substantive due process claims should remain available, but only where claimants can demonstrate that animus orprejudicep recludes their abiliy to use the politicalp rocess to redress their grievances.