The Equal Protection Clause should prevent racial discrimination in the criminal legal system, yet Black people and people of color are disproportionately arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated in the United States. This is partially due to the heavy evidentiary burden required to demonstrate an Equal Protection violation and the failure of the Supreme Court to ease that burden in McCleskey v. Kemp. With federal law largely ineffective, states such as California have passed legislation to provide more robust civil rights protections. This article explores how the Equal Protection Clause fails to provide a remedy for criminal defendants who experience racial discrimination in the criminal legal system, and how the California Racial Justice Act of 2020 provides an avenue for reform.
Hannah Laub, How California's Racial Justice Act of 2020 Protects Criminal Defendants from Racial Discrimination and Why the Equal Protection Clause is Not Enough, 26 Rich. Pub. Int. L. Rev. 113 (2023). Available at: https://scholarship.richmond.edu/pilr/vol26/iss2/8