Thursday, November 14, 2013

City of Cleburne, Texas v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc. case brief

City of Cleburne, Texas v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc. case brief summary
473 U.S. 432 (1985)

Petitioner city sought review of the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit which held that mental retardation was a quasi-suspect classification and that the zoning ordinance of petitioner violated the Equal Protection Clause because it did not substantially further an important government purpose.

Respondent sought to open a home for the mentally retarded in petitioner city. Under the zoning ordinance, petitioner refused to give respondent the permit. The zoning ordinance specifically restricted the home because the occupants were mentally retarded even though the home complied with space requirements for the occupants. Respondent alleged that the ordinance was unconstitutional and in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.

  • The Court held that the mentally retarded were not a quasi-suspect class. 
  • The Court held that to withstand equal protection review, legislation that distinguished between the mentally retarded and others must be rationally related to a legitimate governmental purpose. 
  • As no rational purpose was present, the Court held that the ordinance was invalid and remanded the action to the lower court.

The court affirmed the appellate court's judgment that petitioner's zoning ordinance was invalid as it applied to respondent, vacated the judgment that mental retardation was a quasi-suspect class, and held that mental retardation was a characteristic that the government may legitimately take into account.

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