Graham v. Richardson 403 U.S. 365 (1971)
GRAHAM v. RICHARDSON 403 U.S. 365 (1971)
Arizona denied certain welfare benefits to aliens who had not lived in the country fifteen years. Pennsylvania denied similar benefits to all aliens. The Supreme Court unanimously held these restrictions unconstitutional. Justice harry a. blackmun, for the Court, said that alien-age, like race, was a suspect classification, demanding strict scrutiny by the Court of its justification. The state argued that its "special public interest" in aiding its own citizens justified discriminating against aliens, but the Court, citing takahashi v. fish and game commission (1948), rejected the argument. The discrimination thus denied aliens the equal protection of the laws.
Again citing Takahashi, the Court concluded that the two state laws invaded the province of Congress to regulate aliens, encroaching on an area of "exclusive federal power." Justice john marshall harlan concurred only as to this federalism ground, refusing to join in the equal protection ground.
Kenneth L. Karst