Equal Protection for Aliens
Aliens are entitled to the shelter of the Equal Protection
New York argues - Statute Establishes a generic classification
The statute in question does not violate the Equal Protection
Clause because it "establishes a generic classification
reflecting the special requirements of public employment in the
career civil service."
New York further argues - Hire loyal employees
Because the civil servant participates directly in the
formulation and execution of government policy, the state has an
interest in hiring an employee of undivided loyalty for such
- Justification proves both too much and too little
The State's broad prohibition
of the employment of aliens applies
to many positions with respect to which the State's
proffered justification has
little, if any, relationship.
At the same time, the prohibition
has no application at all to
positions that would seem naturally to fall within the State's
asserted purpose. (Higher offices in the state
Our standard of review of statutes that treat aliens differently
from citizens requires a greater degree of precision.
Subject to close scrutiny
Graham v. Richardson
state statute disqualified aliens from receipt of various forms
of welfare assistance.
Aliens as a class "are a prime example of a 'discrete [apart]
and insular [alone]' minority and that classifications based on
alienage are "subject to close judicial scrutiny.
Classifications based on alienage are like those based on
nationality or race, are inherently suspect.
States desire to preserve limited welfare benefits for its own
citizens is inadequate to justify making noncitizens ineligible
for public assistance.
- The New York Statute does not withstand the NECESSARY close
- The means must be precisely drawn in light of the acknowledged
We recognize that states have an interest in limiting
participation in government to those who are within the basic
conception of a political community.
States also have an interest in defining this community.
But to do so with discrimination against aliens, the State must
employ means precisely drawn in light of the acknowledged
- Neither narrowly confined nor precise in its application
The New York statute is neither narrowly confined nor precise in
its application, and as such its flat ban on the employment of
aliens in positions that
have little, if any, relation to the state's legitimate
interests cannot withstand scrutiny under the 14th Amendment.
- Never held that aliens have the right to VOTE or to hold HIGH
Refusal to hire alien can be based on states legitimate
This is not to say that, on the basis of an individualized
determination, an alien may not be refused or discharged from
public employment, even on the basis of non-citizenship.
If the refusal to hire, or the discharge, rests on legitimate
state interests that relate to qualifications for a particular
position or to the characteristics of the employee.
A State may require citizenship as a qualification for office
Additionally, we do not hold that a state may not, in an
appropriately defined class of positions, require citizenship as
a qualification for office.
Nor will we say that it is unconstitutional to put a
narrowly-defined restriction on the employment of non-citizens,
for alienage itself is a factor that reasonably could be
employed in defining political community.
DISSENT - Justice Rehnquist
The majority hold that an alien is not really different from a
citizen, and that any legislative classification on the basis of
alienage is inherently suspect.
Equal protection clause does not contain this language
The Equal Protection Clause, however, contains no language
concerning "inherently suspect classifications."
Principal purpose of 14th Amendment
The principal purpose of the drafters of the 14th Amendment was
to prohibit the States from
invidiously discriminating by reason of race.
Framer do not intend to render alienage a suspect classification
But there is no language used in the Amendment, or any
historical evidence as to the intent of the Framers, which would
suggest to the slightest degree that it is intended to render
alienage a "suspect" classification, or that it was designed in
any way to protect discrete and insular minorities.
Constitution recognizes the difference between Citizens and
In holding as it does, the Court fails to mention the fact that
the Constitution itself recognizes a basic difference between
citizens and aliens.
May be some aliens thing bribery or self-dealing is okay
Finally, it is not irrational to assume that aliens as a class
are not familiar with how we expect government to be run.
An alien who grew up in a country in which, for example, bribery
or self-dealing is not rejected to the degree that it is here,
or in which fewer if any checks existed on administrative
abuses, could rationally be thought not to be able to deal with
the public in the same way that one familiar with our government