239 U.S. 33 (1915), 361, Truax v. Raich

Docket Nº:No. 361
Citation:239 U.S. 33, 36 S.Ct. 7, 60 L.Ed. 131
Party Name:Truax v. Raich
Case Date:November 01, 1915
Court:United States Supreme Court

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239 U.S. 33 (1915)

36 S.Ct. 7, 60 L.Ed. 131




No. 361

United States Supreme Court

November 1, 1915

Argued October 15, 1915




A suit against officers of the State who are about to proceed wrongfully to complainant's injury in enforcing an unconstitutional statute is not a suit against the State within the meaning of the Eleventh Amendment.

While, generally speaking, a court of equity has no jurisdiction over prosecution, punishment or pardon of crimes or misdemeanors, equity may, when such action is essential to the safeguarding of property rights, restrain criminal prosecutions under unconstitutional statutes.

The right to earn a livelihood and to continue employment unmolested by efforts to enforce void enactments is entitled to protection in equity in the absence of an adequate remedy at law.

The fact that an employment is at the will of the employer and employee does not make it one at the will of others, and unjustified interference of third parties is actionable although the employment may be at will.

Although a statute may only render an employer liable to prosecution if it operates directly upon the employment of the employee and its enforcement would compel the discharge of an employe, the latter is affected directly, has no adequate remedy at law, and if the statute is unconstitutional, is entitled to equitable relief.

An alien admitted to the United States under the Federal law has not only the privilege of entering and abiding in the United States, but also of entering and abiding in any State, and being an inhabitant of any State entitles him, under the Fourteenth Amendment, to the equal protection of its laws.

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The description in the Fourteenth Amendment of any person within the jurisdiction of the United States includes aliens. Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356.

The right to work for a living in the common occupations of the community is of the essence of that personal freedom and opportunity which it was the purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment to secure.

The power to control immigration -- to admit or exclude aliens -- is vested solely in the Federal Government, and the States may not deprive aliens so admitted of the right to earn a livelihood, as that would be tantamount to denying their entrance and abode.

A State may not, in order to protect citizens of the United States, in their employment against noncitizens of the United States in that State, require that employers only employ a specified percentage of alien employes -- such a statute denies to alien inhabitants the equal protection of the law, and so held as to statute of Arizona of December 14, 1914.

Such a statute is not the less unconstitutional because it allows employers to employ a specified percentage of alien employes.

The rule that a State may recognize degrees of evil and adapt its legislation accordingly applies to matters concerning which the State has authority to legislate.

Whether the statute of Arizona attempting to regulate employment of aliens is void as conflicting with rights of aliens under treaties with their respective nations not determined in this case, as the statute is held unconstitutional under the equal protection provision of the Fourteenth Amendment.

219 F. 273, affirmed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the equal protection provision of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Act of December 14, 1914, of the State of Arizona relative to the employment of aliens in that State, are stated in the opinion.

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HUGHES, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the court.

Under the initiative provision of the constitution of Arizona (Art. IV, § 1), there was adopted the following measure which was proclaimed by the Governor as a law of the State on December 14, 1914:

An act to protect the citizens of the United States in their employment against noncitizens of the United States, in Arizona, and to provide penalties and punishment for the violation thereof,

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Arizona:

SECTION 1. Any company, corporation, partnership, association or individual who is, or may hereafter become an employer of more than five (5) workers at any one time, in the State of Arizona, regardless of kind or class of work, or sex of workers, shall employ not less than eighty (80) percent qualified electors or native-born citizens of the United States or some subdivision thereof.

SEC. 2. Any company, corporation, partnership, association or individual, their agent or agents, found guilty of violating any of the provisions of this Act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be subject to a fine of not less than one hundred ($100.00) dollars, and imprisoned for not less than thirty (30) days.

SEC. 3. Any employee who shall misrepresent, or make false statement, as to his or her nativity or citizenship, shall, upon conviction thereof, be subject to a fine of not less than one hundred ($100.00) dollars, and imprisoned for not less than thirty (30) days.

Laws of Arizona, 1915. Initiative Measure, p. 12.

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Mike Raich (the appellee), a native of Austria, and an inhabitant of the State of Arizona but not a qualified elector, was employed as a cook by the appellant William Truax, Sr., in his restaurant in the City of Bisbee, Cochise County. Truax had nine employes, of whom seven were neither "native-born citizens" of the United States nor qualified electors. After the election at which the act was passed, Raich was informed by his employer that, when the law was proclaimed, and solely by reason of its requirements and because of the fear of the penalties that would be incurred in case of its violation, he would be discharged. Thereupon, on December 15, 1914, Raich filed this bill in the District Court of the United States for the District of Arizona, asserting, among other things, that the act denied to him the equal protection of the laws, and hence was contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Wiley E. Jones, the attorney general of the State, and W. G. Gilmore, the county attorney of Cochise County, were made defendants in addition to the employer Truax, upon the allegation that these officers would prosecute the employer unless he complied with its terms and that, in order to avoid such a prosecution, the employer was about to discharge the complainant. Averring that there was no adequate remedy at law, the bill sought a decree declaring the act to be unconstitutional and restraining action thereunder.

Soon after the bill was filed, an application was made for an injunction pendente lite. After notice of this application, Truax was arrested for a violation of the act, upon a complaint prepared by one of the assistants in the office of the County Attorney of Cochise County, and, as it appeared that, by reason of the determination of the officers to enforce the act, there was danger of the complainant's immediate discharge from employment, the district judge granted a temporary restraining order.

The allegations of the bill were not controverted. The

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defendants joined in a motion to dismiss upon the grounds (1) that the suit was against the State of Arizona without its consent; (2) that it was sought to enjoin the enforcement of a criminal statute; (3) that the bill did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action in equity, and (4) that there was an improper joinder of parties and the plaintiff was not entitled to sue for the relief asked. The application for an interlocutory injunction and the motion to dismiss were then heard before three judges, as required by § 266 of the Judicial Code. The motion to dismiss was denied, and an interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants, the attorney general and the county attorney, and their successors and assistants, from enforcing the act against the defendant Truax was granted. 219 F. 273. [36 S.Ct. 9] This direct appeal has been taken.

As the bill is framed upon the theory that the act...

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