Citation. 467 U.S. 216, 104 S.Ct. 2312, 81 L.Ed.2d 175 (1984).
Brief Fact Summary.
Plaintiff challenged a Texas law which did not allow resident aliens to become notary publics.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
An alien-based classification can only be upheld if it furthers a compelling state interest by the least restrictive means practically available.
Plaintiff, a native of Mexico, was working as a paralegal for a legal aid group, helping farmers with employment and civil rights matters. Through the course of his job, he applied to become a notary. Under Texas law, a notary could authenticate written instruments, administer oaths, and take out-of-court depositions. Defendant denied Plaintiff’s application because he failed to satisfy the statutory requirement of U.S. citizenship. Plaintiff challenged the decision on Equal Protection grounds.
Whether a law which denies applications for notary publics on the basis of alienage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Yes. A law which denies applications for notary publics on the basis of alienage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
There is a narrow exception to exclude aliens from positions intimately related to the process of democratic self-government. It does not apply here because notary public hardly go at the heart of representative government. Nor do they exercise any sort of wide discretion.
Moreover, there is nothing in the record that indicates resident aliens, as a class, are so incapable of familiarizing themselves with Texas law as to justify the state’s absolute and class-wide exclusion. If the state’s interest was truly compelling, one would expect at test actually measuring a person’s familiarity with the law. The state, however, administers no such test. Without a factual underpinning, the state’s asserted interest lacks the weight we have required of interests properly denominated as compelling. Judgement reversed and remanded.