Mathews v. Diaz Case Brief

Why is the case important?

The Appellees, Diaz and others (Appellees), were denied enrollment into a federal insurance plan solely on the basis that they were not citizens of the United States.

Facts of the case


Whether Congress may, under the United States Constitution (Constitution), condition an alien’s eligibility for participation in a federal medical insurance program on continuous residence in the United States for a five-year period and admission for permanent residence.


Justice John Paul Stevens (J. Stevens). Yes. The Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution protects aliens and citizens. However, this protection does not lead to the conclusion that all aliens are entitled to enjoy all the advantages of citizenship . . . . Also, The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution concerns relationships between aliens and states, not between aliens and the federal government. The judgment is reversed.


The Court held that Congress had no constitutional duty to provide all aliens with benefits provided to citizens, and that the alien eligibility provisions of 1395o(2) did not deprive aliens who did not meet the eligibility requirements of liberty or property without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment , since it was reasonable for Congress to make an alien’s eligibility depend on both the character and the duration of his residence. Moreover, the statutory classification drew a line qualifying those aliens who might reasonably be presumed to have a greater affinity to the United States.

  • Case Brief: 1976
  • Appellant: Mathews
  • Appellee: Diaz
  • Decided by: Burger Court

Citation: 426 US 67 (1976)
ReArgued: Jan 12, 1976
Decided: Jun 1, 1976
Argued: Jan 13, 1975