Definition: Intermediate scrutiny is a standard of judicial review used to examine the constitutionality of a law or regulation. Intermediate scrutiny is mostly used in challenges to gender classifications, or sex-based classifications. To pass intermediate scrutiny, the challenged law has to further an important government objective, or important government interest, by means substantially related to that interest.
The intermediate scrutiny standard falls between the more rigorous strict scrutiny standard and the less rigorous rational basis standard of review. Strict scrutiny is used for "suspect classifications," such as classifications based on race. Intermediate scrutiny is used for gender, which is considered a "quasi-suspect classification." In addition to gender discrimination, intermediate scrutiny is used in some First Amendment cases.