Return to: Index of "1994 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights"
Index of "Treaties and Legal Issues" || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

JULY 1994

Article 26 - Equality Before the Law

As indicated in the discussion of the previous 25 
articles, all persons in the United States are equal 
before the law.  Subject to certain exceptions, such 
as the reservation of the right to vote to citizens, 
they are equally entitled to all the rights 
specified in the Covenant.

In addition, as discussed at length under Article 2, 
all persons in the United States enjoy the equal 
protection of the laws.  Any distinction must at 
minimum be rationally related to a legitimate 
governmental objective, and certain distinctions 
such as race can be justified only by a compelling 
governmental interest, a standard that is almost 
never met.

U.S. Understanding.  Because not all distinctions 
are absolutely prohibited under the U.S. 
Constitution and U.S. laws, the United States stated 
the following understanding in ratifying the 

     That the Constitution and laws of the United 
States guarantee all persons equal protection of the 
law and provide extensive protections against 
discrimination.  The United States understands 
distinctions based upon race, color, sex, language, 
religion, political or other opinion, national or 
social origin, property, birth or any other status -
- as those terms are used in Article 2, paragraph 1 
and Article 26 -- to be permitted when such 
distinctions are, at minimum, rationally related to 
a legitimate governmental objective. 
To the top of this page