Martinez v. Bynum

LOCATION:U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

DOCKET NO.: 81-857
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 461 US 321 (1983)
ARGUED: Jan 10, 1983
DECIDED: May 02, 1983

Edward J. Tuddenham – Argued the cause for the petitioner
Richard L. Arnett – Argued the cause for the respondents

Facts of the case

A Texas law permitted public school districts to deny tuition-free admission to minors living apart from their parents if their primary purpose of living in the district was to attend school free of charge. Roberto Morales left his family in Mexico to live with his sister, Oralia Martinez, in Texas. When the school district denied Morales’ application for free admission, Martinez challenged the law in court.


Did the Texas law violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Media for Martinez v. Bynum

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – January 10, 1983 in Martinez v. Bynum

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – May 02, 1983 in Martinez v. Bynum

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in Martinez against Bynum will be announced by Justice Powell.

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

This case is here from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Texas law requires a school district to provide tuition free education for all children who are residents of the district.

The law permits charging tuition to children whose presence in the district is for the primary purpose of attending the free public schools.

Petitioner is a custodian of a child, an American Citizen of Mexican parentage, who was living in the Texas school district primarily for the purpose of attending school there.

The custodian brought this suit to challenge the Texas law on its face.

Both the District Court and the Court of Appeals upheld a law we now affirmed.

A State may limit its free public school education to residence.

Thus, a bona fide residence requirement neither offends the Equal Protection Clause nor burdens the constitutional right of interstate travel.

Residents traditionally require physical presence and the present intention to remand.

Therefore, Texas were justified in requiring more than a presence in the school district, where there presence was primarily to attend free public schools.

We decide only that the statute is valid on its face.

Justice Brennan filed a concurring opinion.

Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Justice Powell.