Rational Basis


Rational basis review is a test courts may ise to determine the constitutionality of a statute or ordinance. To pass rational basis review, the challenged law must be rationally related to a legitimate government interest. Rational basis is the most lenient form of judicial review, as both strict scrutiny and intermediate scrutiny are considered more stringent. Rational basis review is generally used when in cases where no fundamental rights or suspect classifications are at issue.  

Origin and Test

The phrase "rational basis" was first described in U.S. v. Carolene Products (1938). In order for a statute or ordinance to pass rational basis review:

  1. the statute or ordinance must have a legitimate state interest
  2. there must be a rational connection between the statute's/ordinance's means and goals