rational basis test

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The rational basis test is a judicial review test used by courts to determine the constitutionality of a statute or ordinance. It is also referred to as “rational review.”

The Requirements of the Rational Basis Test

Under this test, the statute or ordinance must have a legitimate state interest, and there must be a rational connection between the statute’s/ordinance’s means and goals.

Rational Basis Test Comparison

The rational basis test is one of three judicial review tests, alongside the intermediate scrutiny test, and the strict scrutiny test. Both the intermediate scrutiny test and the strict scrutiny test are considered more stringent than the rational basis test.

Application and Scope

The rational basis test is generally used when in cases where no fundamental rights or suspect classifications are at issue.  

Further Reading

For more information on the rational basis test, see the University of Virginia Law Review article, the New York University Law Review article, and the University of Notre Dame Law Review article

[Last updated in March of 2024 by the Wex Definitions Team]