Equal Protection for the Illegitimate

In our time the general constitutional phrase promising equal protection has become specific law. It has been used to invalidate many state statutes which discriminated on the basis of race or other arbitrary criteria. Definite rules have been developed for this process of invalidation. These rules will be applied below to state and federal legislation that favors the legitimate child and discriminates against the illegitimate in matters of inheritance rights, rights of support, rights of name and custody, and social welfare. The question that will be asked is whether state and federal legislation may constitutionally discriminate between children on the basis of their birth in or out of wedlock.