Plyler v. Doe (1982)

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Facts: In 1975, Texas passed a law authorizing school districts to stop admitting children who were not "legally admitted" into the United States. The state government of Texas would simply withhold money from school districts that educated the children of unauthorized immigrants.

Issues: Did the Texas law violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment?

Holding: Yes. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the law violated the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment's equal protection clause specifically guarantees that "no State shall...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." An undocumented person is a "person" and, therefore, is covered by the 14th Amendment. The court acknowledged that education is not a fundamental right. The court also reasoned that the immigrant children are not responsible for their own undocumented status. Therefore, the court held that the equal protection clause requires the state to provide free public schooling to children of undocumented workers on an equal basis with other children in the state.