Norwick and Daschinger were
both non-US citizens, but were permanent residents.
They applied to be teachers in
New York, but their applications were denied.
New York law at the time (New
York Education Law §3001(3))
required that all teachers be either US citizens or be "manifesting
an intention to apply for citizenship."
Norwick and Daschinger sued,
claiming that the citizenship requirement was an unconstitutional
violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Specifically, the Equal
Protection Clause says that "no person shall be denied equal protection under the
laws...," it does not say "citizen."
The US Supreme Court found for
New York and found the citizenship requirement to be constitutionally
The US Supreme Court found
that while strict scrutiny is the
general level of judicial review for cases in which non-citizens are
making claims based on equal protection (aka alienage
classifications), there is an
exception for cases related to self-government and the democratic
In those cases, the much
lower rational basis review is to
Basically, a State may deny
aliens the right to vote, hold political office, or serve on juries, as
long as they can show a rational basis.
The Court found that being a
teacher "goes to the heart of representative government,"(since
they teach US history, political, and social studies subjects) and so
there was a rational basis for the
In a dissent it was argued
that the fear of non-citizens was irrational xenophobia, and that in many
cases a person who had lived abroad would make a better teacher than a US
citizen who had never traveled.