James v. Valtierra 402 U.S. 137 (1971)
JAMES v. VALTIERRA 402 U.S. 137 (1971)
The California state constitution required voter approval in a local referendum for the building of public low-rent housing projects. The Supreme Court, 5–3, sustained this requirement against an equal protection attack.
Justice hugo l. black wrote for the majority. It was not the business of the courts to analyze governmental structures to see whether they disadvantaged one group or another. In any case, advocates of low-rent housing had not been singled out for disadvantage; California required referenda for the adoption of a number of kinds of legislation. Black distinguished hunter v. erickson (1969), which had struck down a similar referendum requirement imposed on fair housing laws. Here no racial discrimination was shown.
Justice thurgood marshall, for the dissenters, argued that discrimination "between "rich' and "poor' as such" was forbidden, quoting Justice john marshall harlan's dissent in douglas v. california (1963). "[S]ingling out the poor to bear a burden not placed on any other class of citizens tramples the values that the fourteenth amendment was designed to protect."
Kenneth L. Karst