403 U.S. 365 (1971)
Appellants, the States of Arizona and Pennsylvania, had statutes which conditioned welfare benefits either upon the beneficiary's possession of United States citizenship or, if the beneficiary was an alien, upon his having resided in this country for a specified number of years. Appellees were aliens denied benefits under these statutes. Appellees instituted actions against the states. The district courts found that the statutes were violative of the Equal Protection Clause of U.S. Constitutional Amendment XIV. Appellants sought review.
- The Court found that classifications based on alien status were inherently suspect and subject to close judicial scrutiny.
- A state statute that denied welfare benefits to resident aliens, and one that denied them to aliens who had not resided in the United States for a specified number of years, violated the Equal Protection Clause.
- Appellants' desires to preserve limited welfare benefits for its own citizens were inadequate to justify appellants making noncitizens ineligible for public assistance and restricting benefits to citizens and longtime resident aliens.
The Court affirmed the district courts' judgments. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prevented a state from conditioning welfare benefits on possession of United States citizenship or, if an alien, upon a beneficiary residing in the U.S. for a certain number of years.