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Government interest is a concept in law that allows the government to regulate a given matter. Under the Supreme Court of the United States’s constitutional jurisprudence, the Supreme Court weighs the government’s interest against the individual's interest when certain constitutional issues are before it. For individual rights that are not considered fundamental, the Court will determine whether the government’s action is constitutional by applying the rational basis test. The government’s interest under that test has to be a legitimate one. When government action infringes an individual’s fundamental rights, the government must show that the government's action is necessary to achieve a compelling government interest. This standard is called strict scrutiny.
Under the Supreme Court of the United States's Equal Protection Clause jurisprudence, when the government classifies based on gender the government must show that its actions further an important government interest. This standard is called intermediate scrutiny.
For instance, there has been held to be a compelling government interest in restricting access to unapproved prescription drugs. Protecting residential privacy has been recognized as a significant government interest by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit.
- Railway Express Agency v. People of State of N.Y., 336 U.S. 106, 112 (1949).
- Palmore v. Sidoti, 466 U.S. 429, 432 (1984)
- United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515, 520 (1996)
- Currie, Peter M. (2006–2007), Restricting Access to Unapproved Drugs: A Compelling Government Interest, 20, J.L. & Health, p. 309
- M Sweet (2003), Political E-Mail: Protected Speech or Unwelcome Spam?, Duke L. & Tech. Rev.
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