Donald J. Kochan *

Equality —it is a concept that pervades political and social discourse throughout the country, and has done so for centuries. The Declaration of Independence provides, “WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness . . . .” Consider the inscription on the façade of the Supreme Court of the United States—“Equal Justice Under Law”—as an indelible monument to equality in the foundation of our legal system. As Karst describes in his influential article, “[t]he ideal of equality is one of the great themes in the culture of American public life. From the Declaration of Independence to the Pledge of Allegiance, the rhetoric of equality permeates our symbols of nationhood.” Karst may or may not concur with this essay’s ultimate conclusion, but his sentiment frames the debate—defining equality and defining its ideal in light of governing principles.

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*  Associate Professor of Law, Chapman University School of Law. J.D., 1998, Cornell Law School; B.A., 1995, Western Michigan University. I thank Ryan O’Dea for valuable research assistance.