Kadrmas v. Dickinson Pub. Schs., 487 U.S. 450 (1988)

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Author: John Paul Stevens

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Kadrmas v. Dickinson Pub. Schs., 487 U.S. 450 (1988)

JUSTICE STEVENS, with whom JUSTICE BLACKMUN joins, dissenting.

When the sovereign applies different rules to different segments of its jurisdiction, it must have a rational basis for doing so.

The term "rational," of course, includes a requirement that an impartial lawmaker could logically believe that the classification would serve a legitimate public purpose that transcends the harm to the members of the disadvantaged class.

Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc., 473 U.S. 432, 452 (1985) (STEVENS, J., concurring) (footnote omitted). In this case, JUSTICE MARSHALL accurately explicates the harm to certain members of the disadvantaged class. And since the Supreme Court of the State of North Dakota has unequivocally identified the actual purpose of the geographic discrimination, I would not second-guess that conclusion and presume that the harm JUSTICE MARSHALL describes has been imposed for other reasons.

The State Supreme Court explained:

The obvious purpose of such legislation is to encourage school district reorganization with a concomitant tax base expansion and an enhanced and more effective school system. The legislation provides incentive for the people to approve school district reorganization by alleviating parental concerns regarding the cost of student transportation in the reorganized district.

402 N.W.2d 897, 903 (1987).

This explanation of the state legislative purpose makes two propositions perfectly clear. First, free bus transportation is an important component of public education in a sparsely populated State; otherwise, the alleviation of parental concerns regarding the cost of student transportation in a reorganized district could not have been expected to motivate a significant number of voters. Second, after the voters in a school district have had a fair opportunity to decide whether or not to reorganize,* there is no longer any justification at all for allowing the nonreorganized districts to place an obstacle in the paths of poor children seeking an education in some parts of the State that has been removed in other parts of the State. Cf. G. D. Searle & Co. v. Cohn, 455 U.S. 404, 420 (1982) (STEVENS, J., dissenting) ("[T]he Constitution requires a rational basis for the special burden imposed on the disfavored class as well as a reason for treating that class differently").

Thus, the State Supreme Court’s explanation of the purpose of this discrimination does not include the "elements of legitimacy and neutrality that must always characterize the performance of the sovereign’s duty to govern impartially." Cleburne, supra, at 452 (footnote omitted). Accordingly, I respectfully dissent.

* As the majority recognizes, the North Dakota Legislature has encouraged reorganization since 1947. See ante at 453.

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Chicago: John Paul Stevens, "Stevens, J., Dissenting," Kadrmas v. Dickinson Pub. Schs., 487 U.S. 450 (1988) in 487 U.S. 450 487 U.S. 473. Original Sources, accessed April 24, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CKEKXTZGDALLXDU.

MLA: Stevens, John Paul. "Stevens, J., Dissenting." Kadrmas v. Dickinson Pub. Schs., 487 U.S. 450 (1988), in 487 U.S. 450, page 487 U.S. 473. Original Sources. 24 Apr. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CKEKXTZGDALLXDU.

Harvard: Stevens, JP, 'Stevens, J., Dissenting' in Kadrmas v. Dickinson Pub. Schs., 487 U.S. 450 (1988). cited in 1988, 487 U.S. 450, pp.487 U.S. 473. Original Sources, retrieved 24 April 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CKEKXTZGDALLXDU.