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Johnson v. California: When Does “All” Mean “All?”

By Thomas F. Gede
October 04, 2005
In February 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, refused to craft a prison exception to its now firmly anchored command that “‘[a]ll racial classifications [imposed by government]... must be analyzed... under strict
scrutiny.’” Will this decision point to similar outcomes in other civil rights cases involving race on the grounds that “all” racial classifications will be subject to strict scrutiny? Quite probably that is the case, but only for divergent reasons. All in all, there were only two votes in Johnson embracing the notion that the higher standard properly applies “to any and all racial classifications” without exception....