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Mathews v. Diaz

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Brief Fact Summary. The Appellees, Diaz and others (Appellees), were denied enrollment into a federal insurance plan solely on the basis that they were not citizens of the United States.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The federal government may restrict aliens from receiving or qualifying for benefits enjoyed by United States citizens.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

The reasons that preclude judicial review of political questions also dictate a narrow standard of review of decisions made by the Congress or the President in the area of immigration and naturalization.

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Facts. The Appellees were denied enrollment in the Medicare Part B supplemental medical insurance program and therefore, challenge the constitutionality of this denial. Specifically, the Appellees challenge the requirement that aliens can only qualify for the federal medical insurance program if he or she becomes a permanent resident and resides in the United States for at least five years. The District Court held the eligibility condition to be unconstitutional. The judgment of the court is reversed.

Issue. Whether Congress may, under the United States Constitution (Constitution), condition an alien’s eligibility for participation in a federal medical insurance program on continuous residence in the United States for a five-year period and admission for permanent residence.

Held. Justice John Paul Stevens (J. Stevens). Yes. The Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution protects aliens and citizens. However, this protection does not lead to the conclusion that “all aliens are entitled to enjoy all the advantages of citizenship . . . .” Also, The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution concerns relationships between aliens and states, not between aliens and the federal government. The judgment is reversed.

Discussion. The Constitution allows the federal government more freedom in its exercise of power over aliens then that of the states.

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