Welcome to our MBE tip of the day series. This “MBE tip of the day” post focuses on a Constitutional Law MBE tip.
You will see 25 scored Constitutional Law MBE questions on the Multistate Bar Exam. In this post, we will review a Constitutional Law question together. Note that we have posted several MBE tips (which you can find links to at the bottom of this post) that focus on a specific multiple-choice question that many students answer incorrectly. If you can master these questions, it could increase your MBE score by that many points if you see any of these issues tested again (which, by the way, you will!). These posts of MBE tips and tricks will not only cover substantive law but also strategy. So each “MBE tip of the day” post covers one highly-tested area of substantive law as well as an important MBE strategy. You can sign up to receive these posts directly to your inbox for the upcoming administration at the bottom of this page.
Constitutional Law MBE Tip of the Day
MBE Tip of the Day Instructions:
Do your best to answer this Constitutional Law MBE question (before even looking at the answer choices and before looking at the answer below!) Ask yourself: What is the subject? Next, what is the legal issue? What is the rule and analysis? Finally, what is the conclusion? Try to answer these beginning questions before even reading the answer choices. Then, uncover the answer as well as read more about our MBE tip of the day.
You can also watch us dissect this question in the video below!
Constitutional Law MBE Question
A state law provides funding for public students using a complex formula. One of the major components of the formula takes into account property values surrounding the schools. This leads to a disparity in student funding as schools located in areas where property values are high have substantially more funding than schools located in areas where property values are not high. A group of students from a school located in an area with low property values challenges this law on the basis that it violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Who will prevail?
(A) The state, because the state can show that the law is necessary to achieve a compelling interest.
(B) The state, because the students will not be able to show that the law is not rationally related to any legitimate state interest.
(C) The students, because the students will be able to show that the law is not substantially related to an important state interest.
(D) The students, because the state will not be able to show that the law is rationally related to a legitimate state interest.
Legal Rule and Analysis:
Choose an answer choice that most closely matches your conclusion and explain why the others are incorrect:
Answer to the Constitutional Law MBE Question
Subject: Constitutional Law
Legal Issue: What is the standard of proof needed to prove an equal protection claim in the context of education?
Legal Rule and Analysis:
Education is not a fundamental right and it undergoes a rational basis scrutiny. Under rational basis scrutiny, the plaintiffs (the students) must demonstrate that the law is not rationally related to any legitimate state interest.
Note: A question similar to this (testing the standard of review for education in the equal protection clause context) was tested on both 1991 MBE released questions and 2017 MBE released questions. Testing a straight standard of review question (and particularly in the context of education though there are certainly other instances where this appears) seems to be popular!
The students have the burden to show that the law is not rationally related to any legitimate state interest. This is a high burden to carry and the state will prevail.
Look at the answer choices provided. Choose an answer choice that matches your conclusion. Review the other answer choices provided. (B) is therefore correct. (A) is incorrect because it improperly uses a strict scrutiny standard. (C) is incorrect because it improperly uses an intermediate scrutiny standard (and improperly places the burden on the students when really the government has to show the law is substantially related to an important state interest–so you could eliminate this one right away!) (D) is incorrect because it improperly places the burden on the state (thus, again, misstating the standard of review) and further states that the students will prevail when they will not.
MBE Tip: You could have crossed out two answer choices simply by knowing the standards of review! Make sure to memorize the standards of review for both equal protection and due process clause issues. If you want to see them all in one place, check out our constitutional law MBE one sheet. We have a free sample on our MBE one-sheets page.
Key Takeaways and MBE Tips From Prior Posts
Takeaway for the Law: Education is not a fundamental right and it undergoes a rational basis scrutiny. Under rational basis scrutiny, the plaintiffs (the students) must demonstrate that the law is not rationally related to any legitimate state interest.
MBE Tip: Make sure to memorize the standards of review for both equal protection and due process clause issues. If you want to see them all in one place, check out our constitutional law MBE one sheet. We have a free sample on our MBE one-sheets page.
Want to See Past MBE Tip of the Day Posts?
If you would like to see “MBE tip of the day” posts from prior days, please check out all of our past MBE tip of the day archives here! We have several of them and we list them by subject!
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If you are looking for MBE help, read our 10 expert MBE tips here. Check out our step-by-step guide to improving your MBE score, please review this post for an overview of tips. If you would like to have the next MBE tip emailed to you when we come out with another one, please fill out the form below.
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