Equality before the law
Equality before the law or equality under the law or legal egalitarianism is the principle under which each individual is subject to the same laws.

Article 7 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

 states that "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law."

According to the UN, this principle is particularly important to the minorities
Minority group
A minority is a sociological group within a demographic. The demographic could be based on many factors from ethnicity, gender, wealth, power, etc. The term extends to numerous situations, and civilizations within history, despite the misnomer of minorities associated with a numerical statistic...

 and to the poor
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...


Thus, the law and the judges must treat everybody by the same laws regardless of their gender
Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

, ethnicity, religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, socio-economic status etc, without privilege
Privilege (social inequality)
Privilege is a way of framing issues surrounding social inequality, focusing as much on the advantages that one group accrues from society as on the disadvantages that another group experiences.- Group role :...


Equality before the law is one of the basic principles of classical liberalism
Classical liberalism
Classical liberalism is the philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets....



In his famous funeral oration
Pericles' Funeral Oration
Pericles' Funeral Oration is a famous speech from Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. The speech was delivered by Pericles, an eminent Athenian politician, at the end of the first year of the Peloponnesian War as a part of the annual public funeral for the war dead.-Background:It was an...

 of 431 BC, the Athenian
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 leader Pericles
Pericles was a prominent and influential statesman, orator, and general of Athens during the city's Golden Age—specifically, the time between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars...

 discussed this concept. This may be the first known instance.

"If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if no social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way"

Classical liberalism

Classical liberalism calls for equality before the law, not for equality of outcome
Equality of outcome
Equality of outcome, equality of condition, or equality of results is a controversial political concept. Although it is not always clearly defined, it is usually taken to describe a state in which people have approximately the same material wealth or, more generally, in which the general conditions...

. Classical liberalism opposes pursuing group rights at the expense of individual rights
Individual rights
Group rights are rights held by a group rather than by its members separately, or rights held only by individuals within the specified group; in contrast, individual rights are rights held by individual people regardless of their group membership or lack thereof...



Original Women's rights movement was part of the classical liberal movement calling for equality before the law regardless of gender.

Still in 1988 the later supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote: "Generalizations about the way women or men are ... cannot guide me reliably in making decisions about particular individuals". In an ACLU's s Women's Rights Project in the 1970s Ginsburg challenged the laws that gave health service benefits to wives of servicemen but not to husbands of servicewomen and prohibited women from certain businesses including running a bar alone.

However, some radical feminists have opposed equality before the law, because they think that it maintains the weak position of the weak.


The phrase "Equality before the law" is the motto of the State of Nebraska and appears on its state seal
Seal of Nebraska
The Great Seal of the State of Nebraska was adopted in 1867. A train steams across the background, with mountains in the distance. A steamboat plies the waters of the Missouri River. A simple cabin and sheaves of harvested wheat portray the importance of settlers and agriculture. A blacksmith works...

. Equality also matters on public as it tells us about the body of contitution.

Parricide law

The Article 200 of the Criminal Code of Japan
Criminal Code of Japan
The Penal Code of Japan was passed in 1907 as Law No. 45. It is one of the Six Codes that form the foundation of Japanese law.- External links :* - Japanese Ministry of Justice...

—the penalty regarding parricide
Parricide is defined as:*the act of murdering one's father , mother or other close relative, but usually not children ....

—was claimed to be unconstitutional for violating the equality under the law, and, the Supreme Court of Japan
Supreme Court of Japan
The Supreme Court of Japan , located in Chiyoda, Tokyo is the highest court in Japan. It has ultimate judicial authority to interpret the Japanese constitution and decide questions of national law...

 judged the Article unconstitutional in 1973 as a result of the trial of the Tochigi patricide case.

See also

  • All men are created equal
    All men are created equal
    The quotation "All men are created equal" has been called an "immortal declaration", and "perhaps" the single phrase of the United States Revolutionary period with the greatest "continuing importance". Thomas Jefferson first used the phrase in the Declaration of Independence as a rebuttal to the...

  • Equal justice under law
    Equal justice under law
    "Equal justice under law" is a phrase engraved on the front of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. This phrase was apparently first written in 1915 by the architectural firm that designed the building...

  • Equality of opportunity
  • Global justice
    Global justice
    Global justice is an issue in political philosophy arising from the concern that the world at large is unjust.-Context:The broader philosophical context of the global justice debate, in both its contemporary and historical forms, is the issue of impartiality...

  • Isonomia
    Isonomia was a word used by Ancient Greek writers such as Herodotus and Thucydides to refer to some kind of popular government...

  • Meritocracy
    Meritocracy, in the first, most administrative sense, is a system of government or other administration wherein appointments and responsibilities are objectively assigned to individuals based upon their "merits", namely intelligence, credentials, and education, determined through evaluations or...

  • Prerogative
    In law, a prerogative is an exclusive right given from a government or state and invested in an individual or group, the content of which is separate from the body of rights enjoyed under the general law of the normative state...

     - the inverse of equality before the law
  • Rule according to higher law
    Rule according to higher law
    The rule according to a higher law means that no written law may be enforced by the government unless it conforms with certain unwritten, universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice...

  • Rule of law
    Rule of law
    The rule of law, sometimes called supremacy of law, is a legal maxim that says that governmental decisions should be made by applying known principles or laws with minimal discretion in their application...

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