William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice


The hope is that the Court will one day hold that the Thirteenth Amendment has its own equal protection clause or component and that strict scrutiny will not be used for benign racial classifications designed to eradicate current badges and incidents of slavery. This Article critiques the Court’s decision in the Civil Rights Cases regarding the scope of section 1 of the Amendment and it offers a holistic or structural interpretation of the Amendment to include an equal protection component and a lesser standard of review than strict scrutiny. Essentially, the Thirteenth Amendment, if properly used, could become a public policy of equal protection that influences courts’ interpretation of the Amendment, other constitutional provisions, and statutes.