Sugarman v. Dougall 8212 1222, No. 71

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBLACKMUN
Citation37 L.Ed.2d 853,413 U.S. 634,93 S.Ct. 2842
Docket NumberNo. 71
Decision Date25 June 1973
PartiesJule M. SUGARMAN, etc., et al., Appellants, v. Patrick McL. DOUGALL et al. —1222

413 U.S. 634
93 S.Ct. 2842
37 L.Ed.2d 853
Jule M. SUGARMAN, etc., et al., Appellants,

v.

Patrick McL. DOUGALL et al.

No. 71—1222.
Argued Jan. 8, 1973.
Decided June 25, 1973.

Syllabus

Section 53 of the New York Civil Service Law provides that only United States citizens may hold permanent positions in the competitive class of the state civil service. The District Court concluded that the statute was violative of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Supremacy Clause, and granted injunctive relief. Held:

1. Section 53 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment since, in the context of New York's statutory civil service scheme, it sweeps indiscriminately and is not narrowly limited to the accomplishment of substantial state interests. Pp. 638—643.

2. The 'special public interest' doctrine has no applicability in this case. Pp. 643—645.

3. Nor can the citizenship requirement be justified on the unproved premise that aliens are less permanent employees than citizens, or on other grounds asserted by appellants. Pp. 645—646.

4. While the State has an interest in defining its political community, and in corresponding interest in establishing the qualifications for persons holding state elective or important nonelective executive, legislative, and judicial positions, the broad citizenship requirement established by § 53 cannot be justified on this basis. Pp. 646—649.

339 F.Supp. 906, affirmed.

Samuel A. Hirshowitz, New York City, for appellants.

Page 635

Lester Evens, New York City, for appellees.

Mr. Justice BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.

Section 53(1) of the New York Civil Service Law reads:

'Except as herein otherwise provided, no person shall be eligible for appointment for any position in the competitive class unless he is a citizen of the United States.'1

Page 636

The four appellees, Patrick McL. Dougall, Esperanza Jorge, Teresa Vargas, and Sylvia Castro, are federally registered resident aliens. When, because of their alienage, they were discharged in 1971 from their competitive civil service positions with the city of New York, the appellees instituted this class action challenging the constitutionality of § 53. The named defendants, and appellants here, were the Administrator of the city's Human Resources Administration (HRA), and the city's Director of Personnel and Chairman of its Civil Service Commission. The appellees sought (1) a declaration that the statute was invalid under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, (2) injunctive relief against any refusal, on the ground of alienage, to appoint and employ the appellees, and all persons similarly situated, in civil service positions in the competitive class, and (3) damages for lost earnings. A defense motion to dismiss for want of jurisdiction was denied by Judge Tenney, 330 F.Supp. 265 (SDNY 1971). A three-judge court was convened. That court ruled that the statute was violative of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Supremacy Clause, and granted injunctive relief. 339 F.Supp. 906 (SDNY 1971).2 Judge Lumbard joined the court's opinion and judgment, but wrote separately in concurrence. Id., at 911. Probable jurisdiction was noted. 407 U.S. 908, 92 S.Ct. 2434, 32 L.Ed.2d 682 (1972).

Page 637

I

Prior to December 28, 1970, the appellees were employed by nonprofit organizations that received funds through HRA from the United States Office of Economic Opportunity. These supportive funds ceased to be available about that time and the organizations, with approximately 450 employees, including the appellees and 16 other noncitizens, were absorbed by the Manpower Career and Development Agency (MCDA) of HRA.3 The appellant Administrator advised the transferees that they would be employed by the city.4 The appellees in fact were so employed in MCDA. In February, however, they were informed that they were ineligible for employment by the city and that they would be dismissed under the statutory mandate of § 53(1). Shortly thereafter, they were discharged from MCDA solely because of their alienage.5

Appellee Dougall was born in Georgetown, Guyana, in September 1927. He has been a resident of New York City since 1964. He was employed by MCDA as an administrative assistant in the staff Development Unit.

Appellee Jorge was born in November 1948 in the Dominican Republic. She has been a resident of New

Page 638

York City since 1967. She was employed by the Puerto Rican Forum as a clerk-typist and, later, as a human resources technician. She worked in the latter capacity for MCDA.

Appellee Vargas was born in the Dominican Republic in June 1946. She has been a resident of New York City since 1963. She worked as a clerk-typist for the Puerto Rican Forum and in the same capacity for MCDA.

Appellee Castro was born in El Salvador in June 1944. She has resided in New York City since 1967. She was employed by the Puerto Rican Forum as an assistant counselor and then as a human resources technician and worked in the latter capacity for MCDA.

The record does not disclose that any of the four appellees ever took any step to attain United States citizenship.

The District Court, in reaching its conclusion that § 53 was unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment, placed primary reliance on this Court's decisions in Graham v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 365, 91 S.Ct. 1848, 29 L.Ed.2d 534 (1971), and Takahashi v. Fish Comm'n, 334 U.S. 410, 68 S.Ct. 1138, 92 L.Ed. 1478 (1948), and, to an extent, on Purdy & Fitzpatrick v. State, 71 Cal.2d 566, 79 Cal.Rptr. 77, 456 P.2d 645 (1969). On the basis of these cases, the court also concluded that § 53 was in conflict with Congress' comprehensive regulation of immigration and naturalization because, in effect, it denied appellees entrance to, and abode in, New York. Accordingly, the court held, § 53 encroached upon an exclusive federal power and was constitutionally impermissible under Art. VI, cl. 2, of the Constitution.

II

As is so often the case, it is important at the outset to define the precise and narrow issue that is here presented. The Court is faced only with the question

Page 639

whether New York's flat statutory prohibition against the employment of aliens in the competitive classified civil service is constitutionally valid. The Court is not asked to decide whether a particular alien, any more than a particular citizen, may be refused employment or discharged on an individual basis for whatever legitimate reason the State might possess.

Neither is the Court reviewing a legislative scheme that bars some or all aliens from closely defined and limited classes of public employment on a uniform and consistent basis. The New York scheme, instead, is indiscriminate. The general standard is enunciated in the State's Constitution, Art. V, § 6, and is to the effect that appointments and promotions in the civil service 'shall be made according to merit and fitness to be ascertained, as far as practicable, by examination which, as far as practicable, shall be competitive.' In line with this rather flexible constitutional measure, the classified service is divided by statute into four classes. New York Civil Service Law § 40. The first is the exempt class. It includes, generally, the higher offices in the state executive departments, certain municipal officers, certain judicial employees, and positions for which a competitive or noncompetitive examination may be found to be impracticable. The exempt class contains no citizenship restriction whatsoever. § 41. The second is the noncompetitive class. This includes positions, not otherwise classified, for which a noncompetitive examination would be practicable. There is no citizenship requirement. § 42. The third is the labor class. This includes unskilled laborers holding positions for which competitive examinations would be impracticable. No alienage exclusion is imposed. § 43. The fourth is the competitive class with which we are here concerned. This includes all positions for which it is practicable to determine merit and fitness by a competitive examination.

Page 640

s 44. Only citizens of the United States may hold positions in this class. § 53. The limits of these several classes, particularly the competitive class from which the appellees were deemed to be disqualified, are not readily defined. It would appear, however, that, consistent with the broad scope of the cited constitutional provision, the competitive class reaches various positions in nearly the full range of work tasks, that is, all the way from the menial to the policy making.

Apart from the classified civil service, New York has an unclassified service. § 35. This includes, among others, all elective offices, offices filled by legislative appointment, employees of the legislature, various offices filled by the Governor, and teachers. No citizenship requirement is present there.

Other constitutional and statutory citizenship requirements round out the New York scheme. The constitution of the State provides that voters, Art. II, § 1, members of the legislature, Art. III, § 7, the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor, Art. IV, § 2, and the Comptroller and Attorney-General, Art. V, § 1, are to be United States citizens. And Public Officers Law § 3 requires that any person holding 'a civil office' be a citizen of the United States. A 'civil office' is apparently one that 'possesses any of the attributes of a public officer or . . . involve(s) some portion of the soverign (sic) power.' 1967 Op.N.Y.Atty.Gen. 60; New York Post Corp. v. Moses, 12 A.D.2d 243, 250, 210 N.Y.S.2d 88, 95, rev'd on other grounds, 10 N.Y.2d 199, 219 N.Y.S.2d 7, 176 N.E.2d 709 (1961).

We thus have constitutional provisions and a number of statutes that, together, constitute New York's scheme for the exclusion of aliens from public employment. The present case concerns only § 53 of the Civil Service Law. The section's constitutionality, however, is to be judged in...

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301 practice notes
  • Chula Vista Citizens for Jobs & Fair Competition v. Norris, No. 12–55726.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • April 3, 2015
    ...conception of a political community. We recognize, too, the State's broad power to define its political community.” Sugarman v. Dougall, 413 U.S. 634, 642–43, 93 S.Ct. 2842, 37 L.Ed.2d 853 (1973) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). For example, bona fide residence requirements ......
  • League of Women Voters v. Diamond, Civ. No. 96-0052-B.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maine
    • February 19, 1997
    ...Tashjian v. Republican Party of Connecticut, 479 U.S. 208, Page 99 217, 107 S.Ct. 544, 550, 93 L.Ed.2d 514 (1986); Sugarman v. Dougall, 413 U.S. 634, 647, 93 S.Ct. 2842, 2850, 37 L.Ed.2d 853 (1973). In addition, there is no fight to vote for a particular candidate. E.g., Burdick v. Takushi,......
  • Boatswain v. Ashcroft, No. 99-CV-8517(FB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • June 9, 2003
    ...of the Constitution of the United States, and disposition to the good order and happiness of the United States." Sugarman v. Dougall, 413 U.S. 634, 660, 93 S.Ct. 2842, 37 L.Ed.2d 853 (1973) (Rehnquist, J. dissenting). As noted, the Court may consider a petitioner's prior acts "to determine ......
  • Trimble v. Gordon, No. 75-5952
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 26, 1977
    ...warrant similar treatment. See Graham v. Richard- Page 781 son, 403 U.S. 365, 91 S.Ct. 1848, 29 L.Ed.2d 534 (1971); Sugarman v. Dougall, 413 U.S. 634, 93 S.Ct. 2842, 37 L.Ed.2d 853 (1973); In re Griffiths, 413 U.S. 717, 93 S.Ct. 2851, 37 L.Ed.2d 910 (1973). While there may be individual dis......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
300 cases
  • Chula Vista Citizens for Jobs & Fair Competition v. Norris, No. 12–55726.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • April 3, 2015
    ...conception of a political community. We recognize, too, the State's broad power to define its political community.” Sugarman v. Dougall, 413 U.S. 634, 642–43, 93 S.Ct. 2842, 37 L.Ed.2d 853 (1973) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). For example, bona fide residence requirements ......
  • League of Women Voters v. Diamond, Civ. No. 96-0052-B.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maine
    • February 19, 1997
    ...Tashjian v. Republican Party of Connecticut, 479 U.S. 208, Page 99 217, 107 S.Ct. 544, 550, 93 L.Ed.2d 514 (1986); Sugarman v. Dougall, 413 U.S. 634, 647, 93 S.Ct. 2842, 2850, 37 L.Ed.2d 853 (1973). In addition, there is no fight to vote for a particular candidate. E.g., Burdick v. Takushi,......
  • Boatswain v. Ashcroft, No. 99-CV-8517(FB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • June 9, 2003
    ...of the Constitution of the United States, and disposition to the good order and happiness of the United States." Sugarman v. Dougall, 413 U.S. 634, 660, 93 S.Ct. 2842, 37 L.Ed.2d 853 (1973) (Rehnquist, J. dissenting). As noted, the Court may consider a petitioner's prior acts "to determine ......
  • Trimble v. Gordon, No. 75-5952
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 26, 1977
    ...warrant similar treatment. See Graham v. Richard- Page 781 son, 403 U.S. 365, 91 S.Ct. 1848, 29 L.Ed.2d 534 (1971); Sugarman v. Dougall, 413 U.S. 634, 93 S.Ct. 2842, 37 L.Ed.2d 853 (1973); In re Griffiths, 413 U.S. 717, 93 S.Ct. 2851, 37 L.Ed.2d 910 (1973). While there may be individual dis......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • THE IMAGINARY IMMIGRATION CLAUSE.
    • United States
    • Michigan Law Review Vol. 120 Nbr. 7, May 2022
    • May 1, 2022
    ...that aliens have a constitutional right to vote or to hold high public office under the Equal Protection Clause," Sugarman v. Dougall, 413 U.S. 634, 648 (1973), it has never suggested that Congress has the power to disenfranchise noncitizens. The distinction between states and Congress is s......

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