LOCATION:North Carolina Board of Agriculture
DOCKET NO.: 76-208
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
CITATION: 432 US 1 (1977)
ARGUED: Mar 22, 1977
DECIDED: Jun 13, 1977
Gary J. Greenberg – for appellee Rabinovitch
Judith A. Gordon – for appellants
Michael Davidson – for appellee Mauclet
Media for Nyquist v. Mauclet
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 13, 1977 in Nyquist v. Mauclet
Warren E. Burger:
The judgments and opinion of the Court in Nyquist against Commissioner of Education of New’ York will be announced by Mr. Justice Blackmun.
Harry A. Blackmun:
This litigation comes to us on appeal from judgments of the United States District Court’s for both the Western and the Eastern Districts of New York.
The State of New York has a statute that bars certain resident aliens from state financial assistance for higher education.
The particular statute at issue here is subdivision 3 of Section 661 of the New York Education Law.
It provides that an applicant for financial assistance must either be a citizen of the United States or have applied for citizenship or if not qualified, must state that he has an intent to apply as soon as he is qualified.
The resident aliens to whom this applies, of course, like citizens who pay taxes and support the economy and served in the military service and contribute in other ways to our society.
The appellee, Mauclet is a French Citizen who has lived in New York since 1969.
He is married to an American woman and has a child by that marriage and that child, of course, is an American citizen.
Although, he is presently qualified to apply for citizenship and intends to reside permanently in this country, he states that he does not wish to relinquish his French citizenship at this time.
The second appellee, Rabinovitch, is a Canadian.
He came to the United States in 1964 at the age of nine.
He is registered for selective service.
He is a graduate of the New York public school system and he too states that he intends to continue to reside in New York but not now to become a naturalized American citizen.
Both brought suit claiming that the citizenship bar, the New York statute, was unconstitutional.
A three-judge court heard both cases and rendered judgment in favor of the applicant’s.
They held that the statute violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and that it served to discriminate unconstitutionally against resident aliens.
In an opinion filed today, we affirmed that judgment.
The Court already has stated in other cases that a state classification based on alienage is subject to close scrutiny by the courts.
New York argues that the statute provides an incentive for an alien to become naturalized.
While this maybe true, this is not a proper state concern since control over immigration and naturalization is exclusively a federal function.
New York also asserts that its discrimination serves to enhance the educational level of the electorate.
Well, that challenge would serve to justify every discrimination against aliens.
And furthermore, the interest in educating the electorate would not be frustrated by including resident aliens in the assistance program.
The Chief Justice has filed a dissenting opinion.
Mr. Justice Powell has also filed a dissenting opinion and is joined in that opinion by the Chief Justice and by Mr .Justice Stewart.
Mr. Justice Rehnquist has filed a dissenting opinion and is joined therein by the Chief Justice.
Warren E. Burger:
Thank you, Mr. Justice Blackmun.