Truax v. Raich 1915

Author:Daniel Brannen, Richard Hanes, Elizabeth Shaw

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Appellants: William Truax, Sr., Wiley E. Jones, W.G. Gilmore

Appellee: Mike Raich

Appellants' Claim: That an alien had no legal right to sue the state of Arizona or prevent enforcement of Arizona's Anti Alien Act.

Chief Lawyers for Appellants: Wiley E. Jones, Leslie C. Hardy, George W. Harben

Chief Lawyers for Appellee: Alexander Britton, Evans Browne, Francis W. Clements

Justices for the Court: Louis D. Brandeis, William Rufus Day, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Charles E. Hughes, Joseph McKenna, Mahlon Pitney, Willis Van Devanter, Edward D. White

Justices Dissenting: James C. McReynolds

Date of Decision: November 1, 1915

Decision: Ruled in favor of Raich by finding that Arizona's law denied him his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the laws and was therefore unconstitutional and unenforceable.

Significance: By declaring Arizona's law unconstitutional, the Supreme Court identified the right to earn a living as a basic freedom protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision reaffirmed the Yick Wo decision that the Equal Protection Clause applied to any person, citizen or alien, living within the United States and that only the U.S. Congress could enact immigration law.

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Between 1870 and 1920, twenty-six million people arrived at immigration stations in New York City. Ships as far as the eye could see would be lined up for days in New York Harbor until a space to dock opened at the immigrant processing center on Ellis Island. After leaving Ellis Island many headed for New York but others bought tickets for Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis, and other cities throughout the United States. All were searching for jobs and a new better life in America.

Equal Protection for Immigrants

Only the U.S. Congress has the authority to determine who may enter the United States. Once an immigrant is admitted to the United States, he or she is entitled to equal protection of the law. The Equal Protection Clause is found in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and provides that no state shall "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law [fair legal proceedings]; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction [geographical area over which a government has authority] the equal protection of the laws." Equal protection means that persons or groups of persons in similar situations must be treated equally by the laws.

Extension of equal protection to new immigrants or aliens (citizen or subject of a foreign country living in the United States) was firmly established in the Supreme Court case Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886). The Court ruled that Equal Protection Clause applied "to all persons within the territorial jurisdiction, without regard to any differences of race, of color, or...

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