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Plyler v. Doe

Law Dictionary
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Constitutional Law Keyed to Stone

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 457 U.S. 202, 102 S. Ct. 2382, 72 L. Ed. 2d 786, 1982 U.S. 124.

Brief Fact Summary. Pursuant to a Texas law, a local school district conditioned the enrollment in its schools of the children of illegal aliens on their payment of a “tuition fee.” The constitutionality of the statute was brought into question.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The denial of the free public education to the children of undocumented aliens within a state’s borders must be justified by a showing that such denial substantially furthers a substantial state interest.


Facts. A Texas statute authorized local school districts to deny free public education to the children of illegal aliens. Accordingly, a local school district conditioned the enrollment of such children in its schools on their payment of a “tuition fee”. The stated purpose of the alienage-based classification was to conserve limited governmental resources. Apellees, the children of illegal entrants, challenged the constitutionality of the classification on equal protection grounds.

Issue. By which standard of review should the courts evaluate the alienage-based classification at issue?
Was the policy of denying free public education to the children of undocumented aliens consistent with the mandates of equal protection?
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