City of Cleburne, Texas v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc.

PETITIONER: City of Cleburne, Texas
RESPONDENT: Cleburne Living Center, Inc.
LOCATION: Cleburne City Hall

DOCKET NO.: 84-468
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 473 US 432 (1985)
REARGUED: Apr 23, 1985
DECIDED: Jul 01, 1985
ARGUED: Mar 18, 1985

ADVOCATES:
Earl Luna - Argued the cause for the petitioners
Renea Hicks - Argued the cause for the respondents

Facts of the case

In 1980, Cleburne Living Center, Inc. submitted a permit application to operate a home for the mentally retarded. The city council of Cleburne voted to deny the special use permit, acting pursuant to a municipal zoning ordinance.

Question

Did the denial of the permit violate the Equal Protection rights of Cleburne Living Center, Inc. and its potential residents?

Media for City of Cleburne, Texas v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 18, 1985 in City of Cleburne, Texas v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc.

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in City of Cleburne, Texas, against Cleburne Living Center.

Mr. Luna, I think you may proceed.

Earl Luna:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, this case involves the constitutionality of a zoning ordinance of the City of Cleburne, Texas, on its face and as applied, and it involves a property owner who wishes to contract with the State of Texas to operate an intermediate care facility for 13 mildly and moderately mentally retarded adults who do not--

Harry A. Blackmun:

Mr. Luna--

Earl Luna:

--possess the skills of independent--

Harry A. Blackmun:

--How large is the city?

Earl Luna:

--20,000.

Federal legislation authorizes the funding and therefore the different treatment of this group of mentally retarded men and women from other persons.

The state regulations require that the facility must be located in an incorporated city which is subject to special use permits, local zoning, and/or occupancy requirements, and must be non-contiguous with an already existing facility.

The City of Cleburne met these requirements.

To operate such a facility then in Cleburne in accordance with the state regulations--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

May I inquire?

I don't quite understand what you just referred to.

Is it your position that the State of Texas requires the city to use special use permits for homes for retarded people?

Earl Luna:

--Absolutely.

The state regulation will not permit the location of a facility in a city unless that city has the special use permit requirements or local zoning laws.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

I had understood the position of the State of Texas in its brief to be that the city was not authorized as a matter of state law to base its zoning decisions on the physical adequacy of the site or of a given structure as a group home.

Do you agree with the position taken by the State of Texas here?

Earl Luna:

Absolutely not, and the state regulation is in evidence, and the state statute in Texas provides that even if there was a conflict, that the statute that provides for the zoning regulations would prevail over the other, but the State of Texas is just flat wrong.

The regulations say--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

And it is your position that their brief is in error then?

Earl Luna:

--Absolutely.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

And where in the Joint Appendix would we find what you are referring to, if you know offhand?

Earl Luna:

You will find that in the Joint Appendix--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Well, don't take time from your argument.

Earl Luna:

--at Page 78.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Thank you.

Earl Luna:

Now, as I mentioned, the city met these requirements that the state had, and therefore it was necessary to apply for a special use permit and have a public hearing.

At the public hearing and in court, it was developed that the home would have 13 mentally retarded men and women and two staff employees in this facility.

The 2,510-foot square... square feet of house... in another place the record shows 2,700 square feet... it had only two baths, and a half bath was to be added.