United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598, 23 (2000)

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Opinion of the Court

tion is supported by a voluminous congressional record. Specifically, Congress received evidence that many participants in state justice systems are perpetuating an array of erroneous stereotypes and assumptions. Congress concluded that these discriminatory stereotypes often result in insufficient investigation and prosecution of gender-motivated crime, inappropriate focus on the behavior and credibility of the victims of that crime, and unacceptably lenient punishments for those who are actually convicted of gender-motivated violence. See H. R. Conf. Rep. No. 103- 711, at 385-386; S. Rep. No. 103-138, at 38, 41-55; S. Rep. No. 102-197, at 33-35, 41, 43-47. Petitioners contend that this bias denies victims of gender-motivated violence the equal protection of the laws and that Congress therefore acted appropriately in enacting a private civil remedy against the perpetrators of gender-motivated violence to both remedy the States' bias and deter future instances of discrimination in the state courts.

As our cases have established, state-sponsored gender discrimination violates equal protection unless it " 'serves "important governmental objectives and . . . the discriminatory means employed" are "substantially related to the achievement of those objectives." ' " United States v. Virginia, 518 U. S. 515, 533 (1996) (quoting Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan, 458 U. S. 718, 724 (1982), in turn quoting Wengler v. Druggists Mut. Ins. Co., 446 U. S. 142, 150 (1980)). See also Craig v. Boren, 429 U. S. 190, 198-199 (1976). However, the language and purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment place certain limitations on the manner in which Congress may attack discriminatory conduct. These limitations are necessary to prevent the Fourteenth Amendment from obliterating the Framers' carefully crafted balance of power between the States and the National Government. See Flores, supra, at 520-524 (reviewing the history of the Fourteenth Amendment's enactment and discussing the contemporary belief that the Amendment " 'does

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