Brief Fact Summary. Appellees brought suit challenging the constitutionality of a law that restricted lad use to one-family dwellings.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The restrictive land ordinance did not impinge on any fundamental constitutional interests and was rationally related to a permissible state objective.
Issue. Is the restricted land use statute unconstitutional?
Held. The majority held that the statute did not violate the Equal Protection Clause.
This case differs from previous zoning ordinances reviewed by the Court. The present ordinance is challenged on the following grounds: that it interferes with a person’s right to travel, that it interferes with the right to migrate to and settle within a State; that it bars people who are uncongenial to the present residences; that it expresses the social preferences of the residents for groups that will be congenial to them; that social homogeneity is not a legitimate interest of the government; that the restriction of those whom the neighbors do not like trenches on the newcomers’ rights of privacy; that it is of no rightful concern to villagers whether the residents are married or unmarried; that the ordinance is antithetical to the Nation’s experience, ideology, and self-perception as an open, egalitarian, and integrated society.
This Court finds none of the previous reasons in the record before it. The legislation is not aimed at transients, involves no procedural disparity inflicted on some but not others, and involves no fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution. The law is thus examined under the Equal Protection Clause to determine if it is reasonable, not arbitrary, and bears a rational relationship to a permissible state objective.
The Appellees argue that if two unmarried people may constitute a family, there is no reason that four may not. However, every line drawn by a legislature leaves some out that might well have been included. That exercise of discretion is a legislative, not a judicial, function. The regimes of boarding houses, fraternity houses, and the like present urban problems. A quiet place where yards are wide, people are few, and motor vehicles restricted are legitimate guidelines in a land-use project. This goal is a permissible one.
It may indeed be the most essential function performed by local government, for it is one of the primary means by which we protect that sometimes difficult to define concept of quality of life.View Full Point of Law