- Union Free School District
New York law provided that in certain school districts,
residents could vote in school district elections only if they
owned or leased taxable real property within the district or had
children enrolled in the local public schools.
Kramer, a 31-year-old stock broker and resident of District No.
15 who lived with his parents, challenged this voting
restriction on equal protection grounds.
New York argued that it had a legitimate interest in limiting
school district elections to those primarily interested in those
elections, and that, at any rate, the offices being voted on
could have been filled through appointment if the legislature
Chief Justice Warren
Violation of equal protection
It is a violation of equal protection to restrict the voting in
school district elections to parents and property owners or
Strict Scrutiny Analysis
Restrictions on the franchise [the right to vote] must be
examined with strict scrutiny to ensure that they are necessary
to promote a compelling state interest.
Means chosen are no precisely tailored
Assuming that the asserted interest in limiting these elections
to those primarily interested in them is legitimate, it is still
clear that the means chosen to accomplish that goal are not
precisely tailored enough to survive strict scrutiny.
Kramer pays taxes, but is excluded
For example, people such as Kramer, who pay taxes in the
district and have an interest in the local schools, are excluded
from the district's elections, while people who simply rent
property in the district and may not be at all affected by the
district's decisions are allowed to vote.
The fact that school district elections were not required at all
and the offices could have been filled through appointments is
States may not regulate eligibility to vote
Once the right to vote in an election has been granted to the
public, states may not regulate eligibility for the vote in ways
that are inconsistent with equal protection.
Dissent - Justice Stewart
It is entirely rational for a state legislature to suppose that
residents, being generally better informed regarding state
affairs than are nonresidents, will be more likely than
nonresidents to vote responsibly.