Does the Equal Protection Clause Mandate That All Persons Similarly Suited Should Be Treated Alike ?

In City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 US 432, 439 [1985], the Court held that "the general rule is that legislation is presumed to be valid and will be sustained if the classification drawn by the statute is rationally related to a legitimate state interest." (473 US, supra, at 440.) This standard of review does not apply, however, in cases involving fundamental rights or a suspect class. (See, Heller v. Doe, 509 US 312, 318-319 [1993].) In such cases State action is "subjected to strict scrutiny and will be sustained only if [it is] suitably tailored to serve a compelling state interest." (City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 US, at 440.) A third, mid-tier level of review, commonly referred to as heightened scrutiny, is applied where the individual interest involved is not fundamental in nature but is considered "important." (Board of Educ. v. Nyquist, 83 AD2d 217 [2d Dept 1981].) The Equal Protection Clause (US Const, 14th Amend, 1) provides that no State shall "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." (US Const 5th, 14th Amends.) In other words, equal protection mandates that "all persons similarly situated should be treated alike." (City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 US 432, 439 [1985].) The Equal Protection Clause of the New York Constitution provides substantially the same rights. (See, Alevy v. Downstate Med. Ctr., 39 NY2d 326 [1976].)