412 U.S. 441 (1973), 72-493, Vlandis v. Kline

Docket Nº:No. 72-493
Citation:412 U.S. 441, 93 S.Ct. 2230, 37 L.Ed.2d 63
Party Name:Vlandis v. Kline
Case Date:June 11, 1973
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 441

412 U.S. 441 (1973)

93 S.Ct. 2230, 37 L.Ed.2d 63

Vlandis

v.

Kline

No. 72-493

United States Supreme Court

June 11, 1973

Argued March 20, 1973

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT

Syllabus

Connecticut requires nonresidents enrolled in the state university system to pay tuition and other fees at higher rates than state residents and provides an irreversible and irrebuttable statutory presumption that, because the legal address of a student, if married, was outside the State at the time of application for admission, or, if single, was outside the State at some point during the preceding year, he remains a nonresident as long as he is a student in Connecticut. Appellees challenge that presumption, claiming that they have a constitutional right to controvert it by presenting evidence of bona fide residence in the State. The District Court upheld their claim.

Held: The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not permit Connecticut to deny an individual the opportunity to present evidence that he is a bona fide resident entitled to in-state rates, on the basis of a permanent and irrebuttable presumption of nonresidence, when that presumption is not necessarily or universally true in fact, and when the State has reasonable alternative means of making the crucial determination. Pp. 446-454.

346 F.Supp. 526, affirmed.

STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p. 454. WHITE, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 456. BURGER, C.J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, J., joined, post, p. 459. REHNQUIST, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., and DOUGLAS, J., joined, post, p. 463.

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STEWART, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.

Like many other States, Connecticut requires nonresidents of the State who are enrolled in the state university system to pay tuition and other fees at higher rates than residents of the State who are so enrolled. Conn. Gen.Stat.Rev. § 1329(b) (Supp. 1969), as amended by Public Act No. 5, § 122 (June Sess.1971).1 The constitutional validity of that requirement is not at issue in the case before us. What is at issue here is Connecticut's statutory definition of residents and nonresidents for purposes of the above provision.

Section 126(a)(2) of Public Act No. 5, amending § 1329(b), provides that an unmarried student shall be classified as a nonresident, or "out of state," student if his

legal address for any part of the one-year period immediately prior to his [93 S.Ct. 2232] application for admission at a constituent unit of the state system of higher education was outside of Connecticut.

With respect to married students, § 126(a)(3) of the Act provides that such a student, if living with his spouse, shall be classified as

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"out of state" if his "legal address at the time of his application for admission to such a unit was outside of Connecticut." These classifications are permanent and irrebuttable for the whole time that the student remains at the university, since § 126(a)(5) of the Act commands that:

The status of a student, as established at the time of his application for admission at a constituent unit of the state system of higher education under the provisions of this section, shall be his status for the entire period of his attendance at such constituent unit.

The present case concerns the constitutional validity of this conclusive and unchangeable presumption of nonresident status from the fact that, at the time of application for admission, the student, if married, was then living outside of Connecticut, or, if single, had lived outside the State at some point during the preceding year.

One appellee, Margaret Marsh Kline, is an undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut. In May, 1971, while attending college in California, she became engaged to Peter Kline, a lifelong Connecticut resident. Because the Klines wished to reside in Connecticut after their marriage, Mrs. Kline applied to the University of Connecticut from California. In late May, she was accepted and informed by the University that she would be considered an in-state student. On June 26, 1971, the appellee and Peter Kline were married in California, and soon thereafter took up residence in Storrs, Connecticut, where they have established

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a permanent home. Mrs. Kline has a Connecticut driver's license, her car is registered in Connecticut, and she is registered as a Connecticut voter. In July, 1971, Public Act No. 5 went into effect. Accordingly, the appellant, Director of Admissions at the University of Connecticut, irreversibly classified Mrs. Kline as an out-of-state student, pursuant to § 126(a)(3) of that Act. As a consequence, she was required to pay $150 tuition and a $200 nonresident fee for the first semester, whereas a student classified as a Connecticut resident paid no tuition; and upon registration for the second semester, she was required to pay $425 tuition plus another $200 nonresident fee, while a student classified as a Connecticut resident paid only $175 tuition.2

The other appellee, Patricia Catapano, is an unmarried graduate student at the same University. She applied for admission from Ohio in January, 1971, and was accepted in February of that year. In August, 1971, she moved her residence from Ohio to Connecticut and registered as a full-time student at the University. Like Mrs. Kline, she has a Connecticut driver's license, her car is registered in Connecticut, and she is registered as a Connecticut voter. Pursuant to § 126(a)(2) of the 1971 Act, the appellant classified her permanently as an out-of-state student. Consequently, she, too, was required to pay $150 tuition and a $200 nonresident fee for her first semester, and $425 tuition plus a $200 nonresident fee for her second semester.

Appellees then brought suit in the District Court pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, contending that they were bona fide residents of Connecticut, and that § 126 of Public Act No. 5, under which they were classified as nonresidents for purposes of their tuition and fees, infringed their rights to due process of law

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and equal protection of the laws, guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.3 After the convening of a three-judge District Court, that court unanimously [93 S.Ct. 2233] held §§ 126(a)(2), (a)(3), and (a)(5) unconstitutional, as violative of the Fourteenth Amendment, and enjoined the appellant from enforcing those sections. 346 F.Supp. 526 (1972). The court also found that, before the commencement of the spring semester in 1972, each appellee was a bona fide resident of Connecticut; and it accordingly ordered that the appellant refund to each of them the amount of tuition and fees paid in excess of the amount paid by resident students for that semester. On December 4, 1972, we noted probable jurisdiction of this appeal. 409 U.S. 1036.

The appellees do not challenge, nor did the District Court invalidate, the option of the State to classify students as resident and nonresident students, thereby obligating nonresident students to pay higher tuition and fees than do bona fide residents. The State's right to make such a classification is unquestioned here. Rather, the appellees attack Connecticut's irreversible and irrebuttable statutory presumption that, because a student's legal address was outside the State at the time of his application for admission or at some point during the preceding year, he remains a nonresident for as long as he is a student there. This conclusive presumption, they say, is invalid in that it allows the State to classify as "out-of-state students" those who are, in fact, bona fide residents of the State. The appellees claim that they have a constitutional right to controvert

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that presumption of nonresidence by presenting evidence that they are bona fide residents of Connecticut. The District Court agreed:

Assuming that it is permissible for the state to impose a heavier burden of tuition and fees on nonresident than on resident students, the state may not classify as "out of state students" those who do not belong in that class.

346 F.Supp. at 528. We affirm the judgment of the District Court.

Statutes creating permanent irrebuttable presumptions have long been disfavored under the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. In Heiner v. Donnan, 285 U.S. 312 (1932), the Court was faced with a constitutional challenge to a federal statute that created a conclusive presumption that gifts made within two years prior to the donor's death were made in contemplation of death, thus requiring payment by his estate of a higher tax. In holding that this irrefutable assumption was so arbitrary and unreasonable as to deprive the taxpayer of his property without due process of law, the Court stated that it had

held more than once that a statute creating a presumption which operates to deny a fair opportunity to rebut it violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Id. at 329. See, e.g., Schlesinger v. Wisconsin, 270 U.S. 230 (1926); Hoeper v. Tax Comm'n, 284 U.S. 206 (1931). See also Tot v. United States, 319 U.S. 463, 468-469 (1943); Leary v. United States, 395 U.S. 6, 29-53 (1969). Cf. Turner v. United States, 396 U.S. 398, 418-419 (1970).

The more recent case of Bell v. Burson, 402 U.S. 535 (1971), involved a Georgia statute which provided that, if an uninsured motorist was involved in an accident and could not post security for the amount of...

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