461 U.S. 321 (1983), 81-857, Martinez v. Bynum

Docket Nº:No. 81-857.
Citation:461 U.S. 321, 103 S.Ct. 1838, 75 L.Ed.2d 879
Party Name:Oralia MARTINEZ, as Next Friend of Roberto Morales, Petitioner v. Raymon L. BYNUM, etc., et al.
Case Date:May 02, 1983
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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461 U.S. 321 (1983)

103 S.Ct. 1838, 75 L.Ed.2d 879

Oralia MARTINEZ, as Next Friend of Roberto Morales, Petitioner

v.

Raymon L. BYNUM, etc., et al.

No. 81-857.

United States Supreme Court.

May 2, 1983

Argued Jan. 10, 1983.

[103 S.Ct. 1838] Syllabus[*]

SYLLABUS

Texas Education Code § 21.031(d) permits a school district to deny tuition-free admission to its public schools for a minor who lives apart from a "parent, guardian, or other person having lawful control of him" if his presence in the district is "for the primary purpose of attending the public free schools." Petitioner's brother left his parents' home in Mexico to live with petitioner in McAllen, Tex., for the primary purpose of attending school there. When the School District denied her brother's application [103 S.Ct. 1839] for tuition-free admission, petitioner, as his next friend, and other custodians of school-age children brought an action in Federal District Court, alleging that § 21.031(d) is unconstitutional on its face. The District Court granted judgment for the defendants, holding that § 21.031(d) was justified by the State's legitimate interests in protecting and preserving the quality of its educational system and the right of its bona fide residents to attend state schools on a preferred tuition basis. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: Section 21.031 is a bona fide residence requirement that satisfies constitutional standards. Pp. 1841-1845.

(a) A bona fide residence requirement, appropriately defined and uniformly applied, furthers the substantial state interest in assuring that services provided for the State's residents are enjoyed only by residents. Such a requirement with respect to attendance in public free schools does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment nor burden the constitutional right of interstate travel. A bona fide residence requirement simply requires that the person establish residence before demanding the services that are restricted to residents. Moreover, in the public-school context, the fact that provision for primary and secondary education is one of the most important functions of local government is an adequate justification for local residence requirements. Absent such requirements, the proper planning and operation of the schools would suffer significantly. Pp. 1841-1843.

(b) At the very least, a school district generally would be justified in requiring school-age children or their parents to satisfy the traditional, basic residence criteria--i.e., to live in the district with a bona fide intention of remaining there--before it treated them as residents. Section

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21.031 not only grants the benefits of residency to all who satisfy the traditional residence definition, but goes further and extends those benefits to many children even if they (or their families) do not intend to remain in the district indefinitely. As long as the child is not living in the district for the sole purpose of attending school, he satisfies the statutory test. Since there is no indication that this extension of the traditional definition has any impermissible basis, it cannot be said that § 21.031(d) violates the Constitution. Pp. 1843-1845.

648 F.2d 425 (5th Cir.1981), affirmed.

COUNSEL

Edward J. Tuddenham argued the cause and filed briefs for petitioner.

Richard L. Arnett, Special Assistant Attorney General of Texas, argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were Mark White, Attorney General, John W. Fainter, Jr., First Assistant Attorney General, Richard E. Gray III, Executive Assistant Attorney General, and C. Ed Davis.*

* Robert S. Ogden, Jr., and Charles S. Sims filed a brief for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. as amici curiae urging reversal.

David Crump filed a brief for the Texas Association of School Boards et al. asamici curiae urging affirmance.

Edward J. Tuddenham, Hereford, Tex., for petitioner.

Richard L. Arnett, Austin, Tex., for respondents.

OPINION

Justice POWELL delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case involves a facial challenge to the constitutionality of the Texas residency requirement governing minors who wish to attend public free schools while living apart from their parents or guardians.

I

Roberto Morales was born in 1969 in McAllen, Texas, and is thus a United States citizen by birth. His parents are Mexican citizens who reside in Reynosa, Mexico. He left Reynosa in 1977 and returned to McAllen to live with his sister, petitioner Oralia Martinez, for the primary purpose of attending

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school in the McAllen Independent School District. Although Martinez is now Morales's custodian, she is not--and does not desire to become--his guardian. 1 As a result, Morales is not entitled to tuition-free admission to the McAllen schools. Section 21.031(b) and (c) of the Texas Education Code would require the local school authorities to admit him if he or "his parent, guardian, or the person having lawful control of him" resided in the school district, Tex.Educ.Code Ann. § 21.031(b) and (c) (Supp.1982) [103 S.Ct. 1840] , but § 21.031(d) denies tuition-free admission for a minor who lives apart from a "parent, guardian, or other person having lawful control of him under an order of a court" if his presence in the school district is "for the primary purpose of attending the public free schools." 2 Respondent McAllen Independent School District

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therefore denied Morales's application for admission in the fall of 1977.

In December 1977 Martinez, as next friend of Morales, and four other adult custodians of school-age children instituted the present action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas against the Texas Commissioner of Education, the Texas Education Agency, four local school districts, and various local school officials in those districts. Plaintiffs initially alleged that § 21.031(d), both on its face and as applied by defendants, violated certain provisions of the Constitution, including the Equal Protection Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the Privileges and Immunities Clause. Plaintiffs also sought preliminary and permanent injunctive relief.

The District Court denied a preliminary injunction in August 1978. It found "that the school boards ... have been more than liberal in finding that certain children are not living away from parents and residing in the school district for the sole purpose of attending school." App. 20a. The evidence "conclusively" showed "that children living within the school districts with someone other than their parents or legal guardians will be admitted to school if any reason exists for such situation other than that of attending school only." Ibid. (emphasis in original).

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Plaintiffs subsequently amended the complaint to narrow their claims. They now seek only "a declaration that ... § 21.031(d) is unconstitutional on its face," App. 3a, an injunction prohibiting defendants from denying the children admission to school pursuant to § 21.031(d), restitution of certain tuition payments,3 costs, and attorney's fees. App. 3a, 7a. After a hearing on the merits, the District Court granted judgment for the defendants. Arredondo v. Brockette, 482 F.Supp. 212 (1979). The court concluded that § 21.031(d) was justified by the State's "legitimate interest [103 S.Ct. 1841] in protecting and preserving the quality of its educational system and the right of its own bona fide residents to attend state schools on a preferred tuition basis." 482 F.Supp., at 222. In an appeal by two plaintiffs, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed. 648 F.2d 425 (1981). In view of the importance of the issue,4 we granted Martinez's petition for certiorari. 457 U.S. 1131, 102 S.Ct. 2955, 73 L.Ed.2d 1347 (1982). We now affirm.

II

This Court frequently has considered constitutional challenges to residence requirements. On several occasions the Court has invalidated requirements that condition receipt of a benefit on a minimum period of residence within a jurisdiction, but it always has been careful to distinguish such durational residence requirements from bona fide residence requirements. In Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 89 S.Ct. 1322, 22 L.Ed.2d 600 (1969), for example, the Court invalidated one-year durational residence requirements that applicants for public assistance

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benefits were required to satisfy despite the fact that they otherwise had "met the test for residence in their jurisdictions," id., at 627, 89 S.Ct., at 1327. Justice BRENNAN, writing for the Court, stressed that "[t]he residence requirement and the one-year waiting-period requirement are distinct and independent prerequisites for assistance," id., at 636, 89 S.Ct., at 1322,and carefully "impl[ied] no view of the validity of waiting-period or residence requirements determining eligibility to vote, eligibility for tuition-free education, to obtain a license to practice a profession, to hunt or fish, and so forth," id., at 638, n. 21, 89 S.Ct., at 1333 n. 21. In Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 92 S.Ct. 995, 31 L.Ed.2d 274 (1972), the Court similarly invalidated Tennessee laws requiring a prospective voter to have been a state resident for one year and a county resident for three months, but it explicitly distinguished these durational residence requirements from bona fide residence requirements, id., at 334, 337, n. 7, 338, 343, 350, n. 20, 351-352, 92 S.Ct., at 999, 1000, n. 7, 1001, 1003, 1007, n. 20, 1008. This was not an empty distinction. Justice MARSHALL, writing for the Court, again emphasized that "States have the power to require that voters be bona fide...

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