Legislative Inputs and Gender-Based Discrimination in the Burger Court

In An Interpretive History of Modem Equal Protection, Michael Klarman poses a powerful challenge to the conventional wisdom regarding the structure of Burger Court jurisprudence. Most commentators have concluded that during the Burger era the Court lacked a coherent vision of constitutional law, and was given to a “rootless” activism or a “pragmatic” approach to constitutional analysis. Klarman argues that, at least in the area of equal protection analysis, the Burger Court’s approach did reflect a unifying theme, which he describes as a focus on “legislative inputs.” According to Klarman, this approach “directs judicial review towards purging legislative decision-making of certain considerations rather than guarding against particular substantive outcomes.”