Nyquist v. Mauclet - 432 U.S. 1 (1977)

U.S. Supreme Court

Nyquist v. Mauclet, 432 U.S. 1 (1977)

Nyquist v. Mauclet

No. 76-208

Argued March 22, 1977

Decided June 13, 1977

432 U.S. 1


New York statutory provision that bars certain resident aliens from state financial assistance for higher education held to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 432 U. S. 7-12.

(a) State classifications based on alienage are "inherently suspect and subject to close judicial scrutiny." Graham v. Richardson, 403 U. S. 365,3 403 U. S. 72. P. 432 U. S. 7.

(b) The statute discriminates against a class and is subject to strict scrutiny, since it is directed at aliens and only aliens are harmed by it even though its bar against them is not absolute in that those who have applied for citizenship or those not qualified to apply who have filed statements of intent may participate in the assistance programs. Graham v. Richardson, supra; cf. Mathews v. Lucas, 427 U. S. 495, 427 U. S. 504-505, n. 11. Pp. 432 U. S. 7-9.

(c) Any incentive through the statute for an alien to become naturalized is not a proper state concern, since control over immigration and naturalization is exclusively a federal function. P 432 U. S. 10.

(d) The naturalization incentive (even if that could be accepted, arguendo, as a justification) or the further justification asserted by appellants, viz., that the financial assistance program is confined to actual or potential voters, thus enhancing the educational level of the electorate, cannot be deemed adequate to support the statute's ban. If the

Page 432 U. S. 2

encouragement of naturalization through such programs were adequate, every discrimination against aliens could be similarly justified. And the claimed interest in educating the electorate would not be frustrated by including resident aliens in the assistance program. Pp. 432 U. S. 10-12.

406 F.Supp. 1233, affirmed.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, 432 U. S. 12. POWELL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, J., joined, post, 432 U. S. 15. REHNQUIST, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., joined, post, 432 U. S. 17.

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