This introductory chapter first discusses the Supreme Court's increasing acceptance of an “anticlassification” approach to implementing the Constitution's mandate of equal protection. This approach aims to ensure that the legal system neither privileges nor disfavors individuals who could be classified into particular groups. For example, it acts in a “color-blind” fashion by treating people of different races the same way. The chapter then sets out the book's main argument: rather than accepting the Supreme Court's confidence that a neutral stance best leads to equality, legal systems need to recognize that they regulate the systems that influence the development of values and that they can foster values conducive to increased equality. While the Constitution may demand neutrality to ensure formal equality, the legal system still permits the development of laws that take stances on difficult issues that go to the core of individuals' values and their sense of self. The subsequent chapters provide the basis for thinking through changes in the way the legal system approaches discrimination and the way it can face the key challenges that lie ahead.
Keywords: equality, legal system, neutrality, discrimination, Supreme Court, equal protection