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GRAHAM v.

RICHARDSON
403 U.S. 365 (1971)
FACTS:
This case is concerned with the state of Arizonas federal categorical assistance programs
which are supported in part by federal grants-in-ain and are administered by the States under
federal guidelines. One program provides assistance to persons who are permanently and totally
disabled (APTD). However Arizona policy required that to be able to obtain this assistance, a
person must be a United States citizen or has resided in the country for at least 15 years.
Appellee Carmen Richardson, a lawfully admitted resident alien, emigrated from Mexico
in 1956 and has subsequently resided continuously in Arizona. She applied for said program after
she became permanently and totally disabled. Appelle applied for benefits of APTD and was able
to meet all the requirements for eligibility except for the 15-year residency rule. Her application
was denied solely because of the residency rule. Richardson filed an action against the
Commissioner of the States Department of Public Welfare seeking declaratory relief and the
award of amounts due. Richardson claimed that such residency provision is unconstitutional as it
violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The three-judge court ruled
in favour of Richardson. The Commissioner appealed on the ground that the States may favour
US citizens over aliens in the distribution of welfare benefits.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the Arizonas policy which necessitates an individual to be a citizen of the
United States or, in lieu of citizenship, to have resided in the United States for a total of fifteen
years as a requirement to be eligible for welfare benefits in the State of Arizona is
unconstitutional.
RULING:
The Supreme Court AFFIRMED the lower courts decision. The Fourteenth Amendment
provides that Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due
process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of laws.
Justice Harry Blackmun noted that the word person used in the Fourteenth Amendment does
not distinguish between citizens and aliens. Enacting provisions or restrictions based on alienage
are comparable classifications based on nationality and/or race and are therefore subject to strict
scrutiny. Furthermore, the SC reiterated that States cannot add nor take from the conditions
lawfully imposed by Congress upon admission, naturalization and residence of aliens in the
United States or the several states. State laws which impose discriminatory burdens upon the
entrance or residence of aliens lawfully within the United States conflict with this
constitutionally derived federal power to regulate immigration, and have accordingly been held
invalid. Not only does Arizonas residency provision violate the Equal Protection Clause, but it
also encroaches upon the federal power over the entrance and residence of aliens.