Saenz v. Roe

526 U.S. 489, 119 S. Ct. 1518 (1999)



The right to travel embraces at least three different components. It protects the right of a citizen of one state to enter and to leave another state, the right to be treated as a welcome visitor rather than an unfriendly alien when temporarily present in the second state, and, for those travelers who elect to become permanent residents, the right to be treated like other citizens of that state. 


Respondents filed suit challenging the durational residency requirements of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, contending that the residency requirements imposed an unconstitutional burden on a certain class of citizens based upon their length of residency. The district court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the statute's implementation after concluding that it placed a penalty on new citizens and failed to treat them on an equal basis with existing residents. After the appellate court affirmed, petitioners sought further review.


Can a state limit the availability of welfare benefits to families residing in the state for less than twelve months with regard to the Privileges and Immunities Clause?




The Supreme Court noted the protections afforded to citizens under U.S. Const. amend. XIV imposed a limitation on the states' powers and concluded that the statute impermissibly affected the rights of newly arrived citizens as to the same privileges and immunities enjoyed by other citizens of the same state, in violation of U.S. Const. amend. XIV. The statute discriminated against citizens new to the state, and since the right to travel embraced a citizen's right to be treated equally in his or her new state of residence, the discriminatory classification was itself a penalty.

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