Zablocki v. Redhail
434 U.S. 374, 98 S.Ct. 673, 54 L.Ed.2d 618 (1978)
Wisconsin passed a Statute (Wis.Stat.
§245.10) that said a person could not
get a marriage license unless they were up to date on their child support
Redhail knocked up a girl, and
was unable to make his child support payments (because he was in high
school at the time).
Two years later, Redhail
applied for a marriage license to marry a different girl and was denied.
He sued in Federal Court, claiming that §245.10 was unconstitutional.
The Federal Court found that §245.10 was unconstitutional. Wisconsin appealed.
The Federal Court applied a strict
scrutiny review and found that there
was a compelling State interest in preventing children born out of
wedlock, but that §245.10 didn't effectively stop that from
happening, so the interest was insufficient because the law was not narrowly
In order to pass a strict
scrutiny review, a law must:
Be justified by a compelling
Be narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.
Use least restrictive
means to achieve that interest.
The US Supreme Court affirmed.
The Court agreed with the
Federal Trial Court in that the law didn't achieve the objective it set
out to meet.
The Court refused to apply strict
scrutiny, and instead only asked if
the Statute was supported by sufficiently important state interests and
was closely tailored to effectuate only those interests.
That's similar to the intermediate
scrutiny level of review.
Intermediate scrutiny asks if a regulation involves important
governmental interests that are furthered by substantially related
This decision cast doubt on
previous rulings that there is a fundamental right to marry that is "implicit in the concept
of ordered liberty."
If marriage is a fundamental
right that cannot be infringed, then
how does the government justify State laws that require blood tests,
application fees, and other obstacles to obtaining a marriage license?