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Village of Belle Terre v. Borass

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 22 Ill.416 U.S. 1, 94 S. Ct. 1536, 39 L. Ed. 2d 797, 6 ERC 1417 (1974)

Brief Fact Summary. Belle Terre is a village on Long Island, New York, which is home to 220 homes and 700 people. The Village restricted land use to single family dwellings. The Appellees are lessors and lessees of a house in the village where six college students lived, none of them related.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. A law does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment if the law is “reasonable and not arbitrary”, and bears “a rational relationship to a permissible state objective.”


Facts. Belle Terre is a village on Long Island, New York, which is home to 220 homes and 700 people. The Village restricted land use to single family dwellings. “Family” is defined under the zoning ordinance as one or more people related by blood, adoption or marriage living as a single housekeeping unit, or not more than two persons living together as a unit not related by blood, adoption or marriage. The Appellees are lessors and lessees of a house in the village where six college students lived, none of them related. The Village served Appellees with an “Order to Remedy Violations” of the ordinance. The Appellees filed suit under 42 U.S.C. Section: 1983 for an injunction and a declaration that the ordinance was unconstitutional. The federal district court held the ordinance was constitutional. The court of appeals reversed and held that the ordinance was unconstitutional. The Village appealed.

Issue. Is the ordinance constitutional?
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