less than 1 minute read

Ambach v. Norwick

Only Citizens Can Perform The Basic Tasks Of Government

Justice Powell began by reviewing previous cases involving aliens. He noted that the Court had permitted states to bar aliens from state employment under certain circumstances. States may practice forms of discrimination that are forbidden to individuals. "The distinction between citizens and aliens, though ordinarily irrelevant to private activity, is fundamental to the definition and government of a state."

In particular, aliens might be forbidden those jobs that require a high degree of responsibility and discretion in the fulfillment of a basic governmental obligation. For example, a state might bar aliens from the police force, a group charged with performing the most fundamental task of government. In all such cases, the state needed only to show "some rational relationship" between the discrimination and a valid state interest.

Like policemen, teachers exercise great discretion in performing a basic task of government. Teachers have direct, often unsupervised, day-to-day contact with students. They act as role models for students, "exerting a subtle but important influence over their perceptions and values." They influence attitudes toward "government, the political process, and a citizen's social responsibility."

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Ambach v. Norwick - Significance, Only Citizens Can Perform The Basic Tasks Of Government, They Want To Teach, But They Don't Want To Be Americans