Truax v. Raich, 239 U.S. 33; 36 S. Ct. 7; 60 L. Ed. 131 (1915)

Facts—Arizona passed a law providing that when any company, corporation, partnership, association, or individual employs more than five workers at any one time, not less than 80 percent must be qualified electors or native-born citizens of the United States or some subdivision thereof. Raich, a native of Austria living in Arizona, lost his job as a result of this legislation since his employer feared the penalty that might be incurred. Raich filed his suit, asserting that the act denied equal protection of the laws to him.

Question—Is the Arizona act repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution?


ReasonsJ. Hughes (8–1). Raich had been admitted to the United States under federal law. He was thus admitted with the privilege of entering and living anywhere in the United States. Being lawfully an inhabitant of Arizona, the complainant was entitled under the Fourteenth Amendment to the equal protection of its laws. The Fourteenth Amendment states that all persons within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States are entitled to the due process and equal protection clauses of the amendment. This includes aliens. Although this law did not totally exclude aliens from equal rights by setting down a percentage, it did give the state power to exclude aliens totally from equal protection within their borders. Thus the Arizona act was against aliens as such in competition with citizens of a defined category and clearly fell under the condemnation of the Constitution. The use of the state’s police power does not permit the state to deny to lawful inhabitants the ordinary means of earning a livelihood.

J. McReynolds argued in dissent that this suit against Arizona was precluded under the terms of the Eleventh Amendment.

Note—In an earlier case, Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886), the Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment protected persons, not just citizens. Truax amplified this decision. In Graham v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 365 (1971), the Court ruled that classifications based on alienage, like those based on nationality and race, are inherently suspect.

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