Zobel v. Williams

LOCATION: Residence of Fitzgerald

DOCKET NO.: 80-1146
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: Alaska Supreme Court

CITATION: 457 US 55 (1982)
ARGUED: Oct 07, 1981
DECIDED: Jun 14, 1982

Avrum M. Gross - on behalf of the Appellees
Mark A. Sandberg - on behalf of the Appellants

Facts of the case


Media for Zobel v. Williams

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 07, 1981 in Zobel v. Williams

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments first this morning in Zobel against Williams.

Mr. Sandburg, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Mark A. Sandberg:

Thank you.

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This is an appeal from a decision of the Alaska Supreme Court.

That decision declared constitutional a statute which distributes income from Alaska's permanent fund based solely on the duration of the residency of the recipient.

The fund itself was set up in 1976 as a respository for surplus revenues.

In 1980, some four years after the fund was created, this statute was passed, and it proposes to allocate one half of the income of the fund.

It is this statute and not the existence of the fund itself which the Appellants challenge.

The case is unlike every other durational residency case which has come before this Court.

In those cases the durational residency requirement was being used as a test; it was being used as a test of domicile.

Here the Appellants are unquestioned Alaskans.

Here it's not being used as a test.

Here it's simply being used to assign legal status to persons who are unquestionably Alaskans.

Mr. Sandberg, a couple of questions to straighten me out.

Do you know of any other case where a state has been paying out, in effect issuing a dividend to residents?

Mark A. Sandberg:

No, sir, I do not.

And suppose a ten year resident leaves for five years and then come backs.

Would he have to start all over again under your system?

Mark A. Sandberg:

Well, there's a series of regulations that have been promulgated, and I forget precisely what they say, but there's a formula which would, I believe... and Mr. Gross will correct me if I am wrong... but I believe that he would basically pick up where he left off, but he certainly would not get credit for the time he was away.

If Alaska paid an equal dividend... I call it that; it's in quotation marks... to every resident, you wouldn't be here.

Mark A. Sandberg:

That is true.

In other words, this case, although I have personal doubts about the wisdom or validity of giving money away to begin with, that's not what this case is about.

And we haven't argued that, and we've not attempted to present that issue.

And may an Alaska resident qualify even though he's never paid a dime in taxes?

Mark A. Sandberg:

That's right.

And if a young man were 18 now would he qualify even though he never voted?

Mark A. Sandberg:

That's right.

So that a family of five would get five shares based on their respective units.

Mark A. Sandberg:

That's right.