In re Griffiths

PETITIONER: Fre Le Poole Griffiths
RESPONDENT: State Bar Examining Committee of Connecticut
LOCATION: Connecticut Bar Association

DOCKET NO.: 71-1336
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: Connecticut Supreme Court

CITATION: 413 US 717 (1973)
ARGUED: Jan 09, 1973
DECIDED: Jun 25, 1973
GRANTED: Jun 07, 1972

ADVOCATES:
George Tiernan - for the appellee
R. David Broiles - for the appellant

Facts of the case

Fre Le Poole Griffiths, a citizen of the Netherlands, came to the United States in 1965 as a visitor. In 1967, she married a U.S. citizen and became a resident of Connecticut. She then attended Yale Law School and applied to take the Connecticut Bar in 1970. Despite the County Bar Association finding her qualified in every aspect, she was denied the chance to sit for the exam due to the fact that she was not a U.S. citizen, which Rule 8(1) of the Connecticut Practice Book of 1963 required. Griffiths requested judicial relief and argued that the rule was unconstitutional because it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Superior Court of Connecticut denied her request for judicial relief and the Supreme Court of Connecticut affirmed.

Question

Does the Connecticut Bar’s requirement that applicants be US citizens violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Media for In re Griffiths

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 09, 1973 in In re Griffiths

Warren E. Burger:

This morning, the number 71-1336 in matter of the application of Griffiths for admission to the Bar.

Mr. Broiles, you may proceed whenever you’re ready.

R. David Broiles:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

Fre Le Poole Griffiths was born in the Netherlands in 1940.

Immigrated to this country on a temporary visa in 1965.

Obtained the status of a permanent resident alien after she acquired work in this country in the State of New York in 1965.

She continued to work in this country and was married in 1967, and moved to Washington, D.C.

After residing in Washington, D.C. approximately two years, she moved to New Haven, Connecticut where she was admitted to Yale Law School as a second year law student.

She completed her studies for an LLB degree at Yale Law School and graduated from Yale Law School in June of 1969.

She has the equivalent of a BA in Law from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, and LLB in Law from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and an LLB in Law from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

She is concededly, in all respects, qualified for admission to the Bar examination in the State of Connecticut.

But for the fact that Rule 8 (1) of the Superior Court rules of the State of Connecticut requires that all applicants for admission to the Bar examination, be citizens of the United States.

Fre Griffiths is not a citizen of United States and did not at the time for application intend to become a citizen of the United States.

She was at the time of her application, a resident within the residency requirements of the State of Connecticut for admission to the Bar.

Potter Stewart:

Does the record indicate that why she doesn’t want to -- why she does not intend to become citizen of the United States?

R. David Broiles:

This was the fourth hearing that we’ve attended and you’re the first person to ask.

The record does not so indicate why she does not intend to become a citizen of the United States.

If you like for me to give you the reason, I would --

Potter Stewart:

Well, does the record show whether or not she intends to remain in the United States and particularly in Connecticut?

R. David Broiles:

The record does not show whether she intends to remain in the United States or in the State of Connecticut.

She was not asked that question.

She in fact, does intend to reside in the United States as with her husband.

Potter Stewart:

Indefinitely?

R. David Broiles:

Yes and she does intend to reside in the United States indefinitely.

Potter Stewart:

And clearly intends not to become a citizen?

R. David Broiles:

She does not at this time intend to become a citizen.

Her feeling is that after 25 years of living in Holland that she cannot give that up at this particular time.

Dual citizenship is not a possibility.

It would be as if we immigrated to Holland, say we married a Dutch citizen and I was living in Holland and my wife was working there, and in order to practice my profession as a lawyer, I was required to give up my citizenship in the United States.

My failure to do that and I would not give up my citizenship in the United States to be a Dutch citizen would not be because of any lack of loyalty to Holland, where I’m resident thereof or because I intended to violate any laws of Holland or because I could not abide by the constitutional laws of Holland.