Plyer v. Doe Case Brief

Summary of Plyer v. Doe


Texas statute denies free public education to illegal alien children.

Issue and Holding:

Does denying public education to illegal aliens violate the EPC? Yes.


Alienage isn’t a suspect class because it’s the product of a conscious and unlawful action.

Public education isn’t a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitutional, but neither is it like other forms of social welfare because it has a lasting importance in the life of the child and it is important to maintain our basis institutions.

Therefore, to be rational it needs to further some substantial goal of the state


  1. State shouldn’t have to benefit those who enter the state illegally. BUT, you shouldn’t punish the children who have no effect over their parents’ illegal/immoral conduct (compare to discrimination against illegitimates).
  2. State has an interest in protecting from an influx of illegal immigrants. BUT, there’s no evidence suggesting that illegal entrants impose any significant burden on the economy (in fact, the opposite is true)
  3. Undocumented children impose special burdens on the state’s ability to provide high-quality education. BUT, in terms of educational costs and need, undocumented children are basically the same as legal residents.
  4. Alien children are less likely than others to remain within the boundaries of the State and to put their education to productive social use within the state. BUT, the same could be said of all other children.

It is irrational to create a subclass of illiterates (which would add to the problems of unemployment and crime) in order to make little savings. Absent congressional policy favoring the rule, it violates the EPC.



Burger dissent:

Since the majority says there is no suspect class, they shouldn’t be using a quasi-suspect class analysis. Instead, they should use a RR test. The law passes the RR test.


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