"This issue paper (IP) explains the concept of a 'compelling government interest' and how this concept fits within the 'strict scrutiny test'. This IP should be of particular interest to the commissioners because it explains legal limitations on the interests that lawfully may be pursued in any diversity policy recommendations the commission decides to make. This IP is one of a three-part series that covers the strict scrutiny test used by courts to decide whether policies that intentionally or unintentionally give differential treatment to members of suspect classes are legal. There are two parts to the strict scrutiny test: (1) the concept of 'compelling government interest'--whether the goal the policy is trying to achieve is sufficiently important to justify a particular use of suspect classification (the subject of this IP) and (2) the concept of 'narrow tailoring'--whether the policy achieves its goals with as little effect as possible on other groups (the subject of the third IP in the series). A policy must fulfill both of these requirements in order to pass the strict scrutiny test. This paper shows that no list of accepted compelling government interests exists and that there is no consistent, accepted definition of 'compelling interest'. Courts decide whether there is a compelling government interest on a case-by-case basis and depending on the specific facts and arguments of each case."
Military Leadership Diversity Commission Issue Paper No. 36
Department of Defense Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity: http://diversity.defense.gov/