Equality before law
The principle of equality before the law states that all citizens should be subject to the same laws: in other words, no one is above the law.
This concept, which is also one of the definitions of the nebulous term "rule of law," is a cornerstone of many modern constitutions and widely regarded as a central tenet of a fair and just legal system.
It is the most fundamental aspect of free society, according to Friedrich Hayek, who stated that equality before the law has been the main goal of the battle for liberty.
In the past, many wealthy nations' social hierarchies were inherently unequal. i.e., England, the King, the Lord, the Baron, the Religious Leaders, and the Common Man.
A Black passenger was required by Louisiana law to give up his seat to a White passenger.
The [Fourteenth] amendment was definitely meant to ensure that the two races were treated equally before the law, but it could not have been intended to eradicate colour differences or to advocate social, rather than political, equality...
The Constitution of the United States cannot put two races on the same level if one is socially inferior to the other.
- The Plessy v. Ferguson decision was handed down in 1896.
The sole dissenter in that case was Justice Jhon Marshall, who stated, "Our Constitution is colour-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens."
Murray vs. Marryland: Equality Before the Law
Thurgood Marshall (who was himself rejected from this law school because of its racial acceptance policies) decided to challenge this practise in the Maryland court system beginning in 1933, dissatisfied that the University of Maryland School of Law was rejecting black applicants solely on the basis of their race.
Marshall contended in a Baltimore City Court in 1935 that Donald Gaines Murray was equally as qualified as white candidates for admission to the University of Maryland's School of Law, and that his rejection was exclusively due to his colour.
The discrepancies between "white" and "black" law schools, Marshall claimed, were so significant that the only solution was to enable students like Murray to attend the University's law school.
The Baltimore City Court ruled in the University's favour, and the University filed an appeal with the Maryland Court of Appeals.
In 1954, the matter was eventually decided in Brown v. Education Board.
Equal Justice Under the Law
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution deals with the right to equality, and the 14th amendment was a source of inspiration for the Indian Constitution's founding authors. The Indian Constitution's Article 14 embodies the rule of law and natural justice. Sir Ivor Jennings questioned Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, claiming that there is nothing in Article 14 that isn't contained in Articles 15 and 16.
The Supreme Court went on to say in its early decision that Article 16 is a representation of Article 14's broad provision with special reference to employment issues.
The Supreme Court of India articulated the twin test for reasonable categorization in State of West Bengal v. Anwar Ali Sarkar. The court held that for the classification to pass the test, two conditions must be fulfilled: Classification must be founded on an intelligible differentia which distinguishes those that are grouped together from others and the differentia must have a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the Act.