• Last updated on November 11, 2022

In striking down an Arizona law requiring citizenship or long-term residency to receive welfare benefits, the Supreme Court increased protections for noncitizens residing in the United States.

The Supreme Court unanimously struck down Arizona’s law requiring welfare beneficiaries to be either U.S. citizens or residents of the United States for a certain number of years. The Court classified aliens as a suspect category under the Fourteenth Amendment, which meant that laws affecting them as a group would be subject to strict scrutiny. The Court went beyond the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to state that the Arizona law also interfered with the federal government’s right to establish rules for immigration and thus violated the supremacy clause in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. Subsequent decisions suggested that the Court may not examine federal regulations as closely as state regulations, but they indicate that a refusal to provide essential benefits, such as Medicare, is likely to receive close scrutiny.Alien rights and naturalization;Graham v. Richardson[Graham v. Richardson]

Alien rights and naturalization

Equal protection clause


Immigration law

Judicial scrutiny

Suspect classifications

Categories: History