Aaron J. Shuler


This article seeks to apply Rogers Smith’s Multiple Traditions thesis to the United States Supreme Court’s treatment of the Fourteenth Amendment to uncover the influences behind its major civil rights decisions. It will argue that liberalism dominates at the Court after mostly, but not completely, shedding its illiberal tendencies. This article will argue that the Court’s focus on intent over impact and its “color-blind” approach to racial classifications in the era of subterranean prejudice and indifference or ignorance to inequality solidifies and perpetuates the hierarchies created by ascriptive forms of Americanism under the Court’s liberal notions. This article will also discuss how liberal conceptions of rights are the driving force behind the Court’s jurisprudence. Under this analysis, landmark civil rights decisions appearing to vindicate principles of equality under both the Equal Protection and Substantive Due Process Clauses are better understood as a validation of individual rights in an unregulated market economy.