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Martinez v. Regents of the Univ. of California, S167791

By FindLaw Staff on November 16, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Suit challenging exemption for unlawful aliens from paying nonresident tuition

Martinez v.  Regents of the Univ. of California, S167791, concerned a suit brought by U.S. citizens, who are or were students paying nonresident tuition at a California public university or college, claiming that they have been illegally denied exemption from nonresident tuition under California Education Code section 68130.5, in violation of 8 U.S.C. section 1623, 42 U.S.C. section 1983, the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, the privileges and immunities clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and other legal provisions.

In reversing and remanding the judgment of the court of appeal, the court held that, because the exemption is given to all who have attended high school in California for at least three years, and not all who have done so qualify as California residents for purposes of in-state tuition, and because not all unlawful aliens who would qualify as residents but for their unlawful status are eligible for the exemption, the exemption is not based on residence in California, and thus, section 68130.5 does not violate section 1623.  The court also held that plaintiffs' remaining challenges to section 68130.5 lack merit as section 68130.5 does not violate another federal statute, is not impliedly preempted by federal law, and does not violate the privileges and immunities clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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