Undue burden standard

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The undue burden standard is a constitutional test created by the Supreme Court of the United States. The test, first developed in the late 19th century, is widely used in American constitutional law.[1] In short, the Undue Burden standard says the legislature cannot make a particular law that is too burdensome or restrictive of one's fundamental rights.

One use of the standard was in Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia, 328 U.S. 373 (1946). In a 7-to-1 ruling, Associate Justice Stanley Forman Reed fashioned an "undue burden" test to decide the constitutionality of a Virginia law requiring separate but equal racial segregation in public transportation. "There is a recognized abstract principle, however, that may be taken as a postulate for testing whether particular state legislation in the absence of action by Congress is beyond state power. This is that the state legislation is invalid if it unduly burdens that commerce in matters where uniformity is necessary—necessary in the constitutional sense of useful in accomplishing a permitted purpose."[2]

More recently, the standard has been used in cases involving state restrictions on a woman's access to abortion. The standard was applied by Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in her dissent in City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 462 US 416 (1983).[3] O'Connor used the test as an alternative to the strict scrutiny test applied in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. Stuart Streichler, Justice Curtis in the Civil War Era: At the Crossroads of American Constitutionalism, University of Virginia Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-8139-2342-0
  2. Robert Johnson (Jr.), Race, Law and Public Policy, Second Edition (Baltimore, MD: Imprint Editions, 2003), p. 89
  3. 3.0 3.1 The U.S. Justice System: An Encyclopedia, Volume One, ed. Steven Harmon Wilson (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2012), p. 442