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Supreme Court holds strict scrutiny applies to race-based prison regulations

[JURIST] In a decision handed down Wednesday morning, the US Supreme Court [official website] has ruled that state prisons cannot temporarily segregate inmates by race, except in the most extraordinary circumstances. In Johnson v. California [Duke Law case backgrounder], the court heard an Equal Protection challenge to the California Department of Corrections' [official website] policy of racially segregating prisoners in double cells for up to 60 days when they enter a new correctional facility. The court rejected CDC's argument that the policy's constitutionality should be reviewed under a deferential standard used for prison regulations and instead held that strict scrutiny is the proper standard of review because the CDC policy is "immediately suspect" as an express racial classification. The case was remanded for review of whether the CDC policy fails to satisfy the strict scrutiny standard. Read the court's opinion [PDF text], per Justice O'Connor, along with Justice Ginsburg's concurrence [PDF text], Justice Stevens' dissent [PDF text] and Justice Thomas' dissent [PDF text]. AP has more.

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