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CABELL V. CHAVEZ-SALIDO, 454 U. S. 432 (1982)

U.S. Supreme Court

Cabell v. Chavez-Salido, 454 U.S. 432 (1982)

Cabell v. Chavez-Salido

No. 80-990

Argued November 3, 1981

Decided January 12, 1982

454 U.S. 432


Section 1031(a) of the Cal.Gov't Code Ann. (West 1980) requires "public officers or employees declared by law to be peace officers" to be United States citizens; § 830.5 of the Cal.Penal Code Ann. (West Supp.1981) declares probation officers and deputy probation officers to be "peace officers." Appellees, lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens, after unsuccessfully applying for positions as Deputy Probation Officers in Los Angeles County, filed suit in Federal District Court challenging the statutory citizenship requirement under, inter alia, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and seeking declaratory, injunctive, and other relief. The District Court held the requirement unconstitutional both on its face and as applied to appellees.

Held: The statutory citizenship requirement is valid. Pp. 454 U. S. 436-447.

(a) While a restriction on lawfully resident aliens that primarily affects economic interests is subject to strict judicial scrutiny, such scrutiny is out of place when the restriction primarily serves a political function. A claim that a particular restriction on legally resident aliens serves political, and not economic, goals is to be evaluated in a two-step process. Sugarman v. Dougall, 413 U. S. 634. First, the specificity of the classification will be examined: a classification that is substantially overinclusive or underinclusive tends to undercut the governmental claim that the classification serves legitimate political ends. Second, even if the classification is sufficiently tailored, it may be applied in the particular case only to "persons holding state elective or important nonelective executive, legislative, and judicial positions." Sugarman v. Dougall, supra, at 413 U. S. 647. Pp. 454 U. S. 436-441.

(b) The statutes in question are an attempt to limit the exercise of the sovereign's coercive police powers over the community to citizens. They are sufficiently tailored in light of that aim to withstand a facial challenge when reviewed under the appropriate equal protection standard for such an exercise of sovereign power. Pp. 454 U. S. 441-444.

Page 454 U. S. 433

(c) Probation officers sufficiently partake of the sovereign's power to exercise coercive force over the individual that they may be required to be citizens. Although the range of individuals over whom such officers exercise supervisory authority is limited, the officers' power with respect to those individuals is broad. A citizenship requirement is an appropriate limitation on those who exercise and, therefore, symbolize this power of the political community over those who fall within its jurisdiction. Pp. 454 U. S. 441-447.

490 F.Supp. 984, reversed and remanded.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and POWELL, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 454 U. S. 447.

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