Law in an Elevator: When Leveling Down Remedies Let Equality Off in the Basement – Note by Jean Marie Doherty

From Volume 81, Number 5 (July 2008)

When fifteen-year-old Elisa Cazares was not nominated for membership to her high school’s chapter of the National Honor Society, she and her teachers were surprised. As the “brightest student” her math teacher had “seen come through” Tohono O’Odham High School, Cazares was one of four members of the student government, had been on the honor roll for every report period, and was active in a number of student activities. Arguing that the selection committee declined to nominate her because she was pregnant, unwed, and not living with the father of her future child, Cazares claimed that her equal protection rights had been violated and brought suit in federal district court. In holding that Cazares’s exclusion constituted a violation of her equal protection rights, the district court mandated that “no student . . . [could] be inducted into the National Honor Society unless and until Elisa Cazares [was] among them.” To achieve compliance with the district court’s instructions, Tohono O’Odham canceled the induction ceremony, remedying the violation by denying both Cazares and the students the selection committee had already nominated access to the Society.



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