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Name: Johnson v. California
Case #: 03-636
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 02/23/2005
Subsequent History: Cross cites: 125 S.Ct. 1141; 160 L.Ed.2d 949

Johnson, an African-American inmate, challenged on equal protection grounds CDC’s unwritten policy of racially segregating prisoners in double cells for up to 60 days each time they enter a new correctional facility. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment, holding that the policy’s constitutionality should be reviewed under the deferential standard, not under strict scrutiny. The Supreme Court in this opinion held that strict scrutiny is the proper standard of review. Because CDC’s policy is “immediately suspect” as an express racial classification, the Ninth Circuit erred in failing to apply strict scrutiny and requiring CDC to demonstrate that the policy is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest. The Court reversed and remanded for the Ninth Circuit or the District court to apply strict scrutiny in the first instance. J. Stevens dissented from the Court’s refusal to decide that the CDC policy is unconstitutional. J. Thomas and Scalia dissented, holding that strict scrutiny is not required.