Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Railway Express v New York: Illustration

The pros and cons of powerpoint in the classroom are hotly debated, but for ConLawProfs who like a good illustration to enliven their classrooms with a bit a humor, the below image of a Dutch bus from copyranter  via Above The Law is worth considering.

DutchRailways Railway Express Agency, Inc. v. New York, 336 U.S. 106 (1949) is a classic case of equal protection and is excerpted in most Casebooks.  The case is best known for its low standard of rational basis review in equal protection, often called "Railway Express rational basis," or by some students the "lowest of the low" rational basis. 

The NYC Traffic Regulation at issue provided: "No person shall operate, or cause to be operated, in or upon any street an advertising vehicle; provided that nothing herein contained shall prevent the putting of business notices upon business delivery vehicles, so long as such vehicles are engaged in the usual business or regular work of the owner, and not used merely or mainly for advertising." 

The government interest was traffic safety, but the Court upheld the classification made which was not a logical one such as size or color of the advertisement, but was based on the ownership of the vehicle on which the advertisement was placed.



Cases and Case Materials, Equal Protection, Teaching Tips | Permalink

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