BLACK v. SULLIVAN

561 F. Supp. 1050 (1983) | Cited 0 times | D. Maine | April 13, 1983

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

CYR, J.

The present section 1983 action challenges the constitutionality of the administrative rules and regulations [Rules] of the University of Maine [University] governing the reclassification, as "residents," of University students previously classified as "nonresidents " for tuition purposes. The plaintiffs, former students of the University of Maine School of Law, assert that the Rules, on their face and as applied, are violative of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

The plaintiffs filed their complaint on June 2, 1980, prior to entering their third year of law school as nonresident students and after having been denied administrative reclassification for the preceding academic year (1979-80). In anticipation of the denial of their requests for reclassification for the 1980-81 academic year, plaintiffs moved, on July 2, 1980, for a preliminary injunction restraining the defendants from requiring plaintiffs to pay nonresident tuitions for the ensuing academic year. In order to obviate the need for preliminary injunctive relief, the parties agreed that the plaintiffs would remit the amount of the difference between resident and nonresident tuition rates for the 1980-81 academic year to the clerk of court for escrowing, subject to the understanding that the escrowed funds, with interest, would be paid over to the prevailing parties.

The case was tried before the Court, sitting without a jury.

Summary of Contentions

The plaintiffs argue that the University Rules violate the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment: (1) by imposing a substantially greater burden of proof upon students seeking reclassification as "residents" than is imposed upon students seeking classification as "residents" at the time of their initial admission to the University, and (2) by impermissibly discriminating against unmarried students, nonmilitary students and students who own no real property in Maine. Plaintiffs further allege denials of due process and equal protection resulting from the application of the Rules, due to the de facto existence of an irrebuttable presumption of nonresidency. Finally, plaintiffs assert that the rejections of their requests for reclassification were so arbitrary and irrational as to constitute denials of their due process rights.

Defendants deny plaintiffs' due process and equal protection claims; and further assert sovereign immunity under the eleventh amendment and that the individual defendants acted in good faith.

The University Rules

The University is a state-wide, public, post-secondary education system comprised of seven campuses, including the University of Southern Maine, of which the University of Maine School of Law is a part. The University derives its funding from legislative grants, tuitions and fees, for which it must account to its Board of Trustees.

On March 28, 1973 the Board of Trustees adopted "Rules Governing Residence," upon which the present Rules (Appendix A) are based, following amendments made on March 24, 1976 and on April 27, 1977.

On their face and as applied, the Rules permit attendance at the University upon payment of the lower, resident tuition rates by any student who has been "a bona fide domiciliary of the State for at least a year immediately prior to registration for the term for which resident status is claimed."

The Rules prescribe no explicit regulatory criteria for determining bona fide domiciliary status, except that a student who "has been here for at least a year primarily as a permanent resident and not merely as a student" is considered a domiciliary. 1" But the Rules do describe certain circumstances in which it will be presumed that the student is not a bona fide domiciliary, absent adequate proof to the contrary: "If the student is enrolled for a full academic program, as defined by the University, it will be presumed that the student is in Maine for educational purposes and the burden will be on the student to prove otherwise." The Rules further identify certain specific instances in which reclassification to "resident" status is considered essentially automatic: (1) where a student is a member, or a dependent of a member, of the Armed Forces currently on active duty in Maine; (2) where an unmarried minor student's parent or legal guardian is a bona fide Maine domiciliary; and (3) where a student is married to a "resident" of Maine. But for students not within any of these three categories the only indications of the types of proof required to overcome the presumption of nonresidency are found on the two-page questionnaire to be completed by applicants for reclassification (Appendix B). The information requested on the first page of the questionnaire appears to be aimed at enabling University officials to determine whether the student comes within one of the three categories just mentioned. The second page concerns whether the student: (1) has purchased "property" in Maine; (2) rents property in Maine; (3) is registered to vote in Maine; (4) has a Maine-registered motor vehicle; (5) pays Maine State Income Tax; (6) spends school and summer vacations in Maine; and (7) intends to remain in Maine after completion of his or her educational program.

From the testimony of University officials and from the letters sent to the plaintiffs informing them of the reasons for rejecting their requests for reclassification, it appears that a student's statement of intent to remain in Maine following graduation is insufficient, absent "objective confirmation of [the] statement of intent. . . ." Sullivan letter of May 19, 1981 [Joint Exhibit 1(R)]. Such objective factors as a Maine bank account, a Maine driver's license, a Maine-registered vehicle, an apartment in Maine, and the payment of Maine income taxes are generally considered insufficient to confirm a stated intention to remain in Maine after graduation, because these are considered normal incidents of a temporary Maine residency as well.

Among the more significant factors identified by University officials as indicative of a bona fide domiciliary status are marriage, full-time employment, home ownership, the presence of close family members in Maine, and personal or family connections with Maine antedating admission to the University; although none of these factors is necessarily dispositive.

Approximately 60% of those seeking reclassification in a given year are successful. Most successful applicants have had a prior affiliation with Maine, have been recently married, or have acquired real property in Maine. No evidence was offered as to the number or percentage of unmarried, apartment-dwelling students, with no preadmission connections with Maine, who have succeeded in obtaining reclassification as residents, although the defendants point to plaintiff Black as such a reclassified student.

The Rules provide that the initial administrative decision on reclassification is for the campus business manager. An unsuccessful applicant may then appeal: (1) to the campus Vice President for Finance and Administration; (2) to the campus President; and (3) finally, to the Treasurer of the University (Vice-Chancellor for Finance). Roughly six to eight reclassification requests reach the President of the University of Southern Maine and approximately eight to ten (of approximately 200) reach the University Treasurer each year from all seven campuses.

Plaintiffs' Reclassification Requests

Plaintiffs Black and Gildard applied on December 15, 1977 and February 2, 1978, respectively, for admission to the University of Maine School of Law for the 1978-79 academic year. In their applications they claimed that they were residents of New Jersey and Maryland, respectively, as the term "resident" was defined in the instructions. Both plaintiffs came to Portland, Maine prior to the commencement of the 1978 fall semester and resided in local apartments during their first year in law school.

A. Reclassification Requests for Academic Year 1979-80

Following her first year of law school, plaintiff Black, on July 31, 1979, filed a reclassification request with the business manager of the University of Southern Maine, the defendant William Bullock, in accordance with the Rules. In support of her request she stated that she considered herself a bona fide resident of Maine.

By letter dated August 22, 1979 Bullock denied the request for reclassification, explaining that Black had not satisfied the requirement that she "be in the state for at least a year primarily as a permanent resident and not merely as a student," since she had been in Maine "primarily for education purposes." [Joint Exhibit 1(j).]

Pursuant to the Rules, Black "appealed" Bullock's decision to the campus Vice President for Finance and Administration, the defendant Walter Fridinger, stating in a letter dated September 6, 1979 that she intended to remain in Maine following graduation. She also complained that the reclassification questionnaire, focusing primarily on the applicant's economic ties with Maine, was inapposite in her case because she lacked the financial resources to acquire such ties. She explained her reasons for deciding to become a permanent Maine resident, emphasizing her acceptance of Maine summer employment in the face of opportunities for similar employment in New Jersey. At a meeting with the defendant Fridinger, Black explained that she had not resided in New Jersey for a number of years and that before coming to Maine she had lived in Egypt for nearly two years. On September 11, 1979 Fridinger denied the request for reclassification, because Black was in Maine primarily for purposes of her education and she had not submitted "sufficient evidence" to warrant reclassification, despite her stated intention to remain in Maine following graduation. [Joint Exhibit 1(L), at 2.]

The campus president, defendant Robert Woodbury, next rejected her appeal for reclassification, citing the Rules to the effect that ". . . a student does not acquire a domicile in Maine until he or she has been here for at least a year primarily as a permanent resident. . . ." [Joint Exhibit 1(m), at 2.] Whereupon, Black unsuccessfully pursued a final appeal to the Treasurer of the University of Maine, the defendant William Sullivan, who noted, on April 25, 1980, that she had not "established objectively, that at [that] time [she was] a bona-fide domiciliary of the State of Maine." [Joint Exhibit 1(n).]

Plaintiff Gildard applied for reclassification as a Maine resident on June 30, 1979, stating that he had been a registered Maine voter since October, 1978, had rented an apartment in Portland, and had had state income taxes withheld from his summer work-study paychecks. He also attached a Maine driver's license issued to him on June 6, 1979. Following an interview with the defendant Bullock, Gildard's request was denied for the same reason ascribed by Bullock for the denial of Black's reclassification. In a letter to Fridinger, Gildard stated that his legal and financial ties to Maryland had been "broken" and that he had a Maine bank account. He stated that he had come to Maine with the intention of remaining in Maine as a permanent resident and that he had declined to attend a law school in Maryland even though he had been accepted there. At the interview with Fridinger, Gildard submitted a letter from the father of Gildard's former roommate at the University of Maryland, who was a Maine native. They also discussed the fact that Gildard's father had attended a summer camp in Maine during his youth. Fridinger denied Gildard's request and President Woodbury did likewise in a letter essentially identical with that which had been addressed to Black. [Joint Exhibit 1(m).]

Finally, the defendant Sullivan denied reclassification for lack of "external factual evidence" of Gildard's intention to permanently reside in Maine, except for paying rent, working part-time at the University, registering to vote in Maine, and obtaining a Maine driver's license. Sullivan also pointed to the fact that Gildard had applied to other law schools besides Maine, indicating that "there was no evidence of particular affiliation with Maine prior to [his] acceptance by the Law School." [Joint Exhibit 1(n), at 4.]

B. Reclassification Requests for Academic Year 1980-81

Plaintiff Black again requested reclassification on July 29, 1980, pointing particularly to her continuous occupancy of an apartment in Portland and her purchase of personal property in Maine. She also submitted an affidavit summarizing her Maine residential and employment history, advising that she had rejected an opportunity to attend Rutgers University School of Law, at the lower resident-tuition rate available to her there, because of her interest in living in Maine. She stated that she decided to become a permanent resident of Maine during the early part of 1979, and that she intended to seek full-time employment in Maine upon her graduation. She also described her involvement in the local community, including her participation in the Democratic Party caucus and her practice of donating blood to the Red Cross on a regular basis. Finally, she reported moving furniture from New Jersey to her Maine apartment.

Once again, by letter dated August 12, 1980 [Joint Exhibit 1(q)], Black's request was rejected by Bullock. On appeal to defendant Samuel Andrews, then the University of Southern Maine Vice President for Finance and Administration, Black's request was again rejected, with Andrews adopting Bullock's reasoning verbatim. President Woodbury in turn found that Black was "in Maine primarily for the purpose of education and [had] not been domiciled here for any other reason." [Joint Exhibit 1(q), at 6.] Finally, defendant Sullivan agreed, stating that "there is no objective evidence that you are in Maine for other than education purposes." [Joint Exhibit 1(q), at 8.]

Plaintiff Gildard again filed an application for reclassification on August 1, 1980, including a detailed affidavit explaining when he became interested in Maine and describing his present affiliation with Maine. Gildard's request was rejected by Bullock, Andrews, Woodbury, and Sullivan, with each ascribing precisely the same reasons given in support of their rejections of Black's second request for reclassification.

C. Black's Request for Reclassification for the Spring Semester 1981

Following Sullivan's rejection of her request for reclassification as a resident for the 1980 fall semester, Black wrote Bullock on November 10, 1980 informing him that she had accepted a position as law clerk to a state superior court justice and requesting Bullock to reconsider her application for reclassification. Apparently treating her letter as a request for reclassification for the 1981 spring semester, Bullock requested Black to submit responses to the questionnaire. Black complied and, following denials of her request by Bullock, Andrews, and Woodbury, she obtained reclassification as a resident from the defendant Sullivan on May 19, 1981, some 11 months after the filing of the present legal action in this Court.

Sullivan explained that Black's acceptance of employment as a law clerk in Maine was "objective confirmation" of her stated intention to remain in Maine, and that, because she had applied for this position approximately one year prior to the 1981 spring semester, she had shown that she had the requisite intent to remain in Maine during the intervening one-year period and, thus, was a "domiciliary" of Maine for one year prior to the 1981 spring semester.

DISCUSSION

Equal Protection Claims

The plaintiffs argue that the Rules, on their face and as applied, create classifications that impermissibly discriminate against: (1) out-of-state student applicants seeking reclassification as residents; (2) unmarried students; (3) nonmilitary students; and (4) nonhomeowning students.

The Equal Protection Clause directs that 'all persons similarly circumstanced shall be treated alike.' F.S. Royster Guano Co. v. Virginia, 253 U.S. 412, 415, 64 L. Ed. 989, 40 S. Ct. 560 (1920). But so too, 'The Constitution does not require things which are different in fact or opinion to be treated in law as though they were the same.' Tigner v. Texas, 310 U.S. 141, 147, 84 L. Ed. 1124, 60 S. Ct. 879 (1940). The initial discretion to determine what is 'different' and what is 'the same' resides in the legislatures of the States. A legislature must have substantial latitude to establish classifications that roughly approximate the nature of the problem perceived, that accommodate competing concerns both public and private, and that account for limitations on the practical ability of the State to remedy every ill. In applying the Equal Protection Clause to most forms of state action, we thus seek only the assurance that the classification at issue bears some fair relationship to a legitimate public purpose.

Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 216, 102 S. Ct. 2382, 72 L. Ed. 2d 786, 50 U.S.L.W. 4650, 4654 (1982).

The plaintiffs argue that it is not enough that defendants show a "reasonable basis," Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471, 485, 25 L. Ed. 2d 491, 90 S. Ct. 1153 (1970), for these classifications, which plaintiffs insist "involve a suspect classification based on wealth and affect the fundamental right to travel."

In support of their argument that persons who "lack wealth" constitute a "suspect" class, plaintiffs rely on a number of Supreme Court decisions which have struck down economic obstacles to the attainment or exercise of fundamental rights. See Bullock v. Carter, 405 U.S. 134, 31 L. Ed. 2d 92, 92 S. Ct. 849 (1972) [access to ballot for political candidates]; Boddie v. Connecticut, 401 U.S. 371, 28 L. Ed. 2d 113, 91 S. Ct. 780 (1971) [access to divorce court]; Turner v. Fouche, 396 U.S. 346, 24 L. Ed. 2d 567, 90 S. Ct. 532 (1970) [school board membership]; Cipriano v. City of Houma, 395 U.S. 701, 23 L. Ed. 2d 647, 89 S. Ct. 1897 (1969) (per curiam) [right to vote]; Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353, 9 L. Ed. 2d 811, 83 S. Ct. 814 (1963) [counsel on criminal appeal]; Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 100 L. Ed. 891, 76 S. Ct. 585 (1956) [transcript for criminal appeal]. Although certain classifications based on wealth may be considered "suspect," the Supreme Court has explained that these earlier cases involved individuals or groups of individuals who shared two distinguishing characteristics: "because of their impecunity they were completely unable to pay for some desired benefit, and as a consequence, they sustained an absolute deprivation of a meaningful opportunity to enjoy that benefit." San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1, 20, 36 L. Ed. 2d 16, 93 S. Ct. 1278 (1973) (emphasis added). The Rodriguez Court upheld a Texas public school financing system which resulted in a greater "per pupil" budget in property-rich districts, explaining that "this Court has never heretofore held that wealth discrimination alone provides an adequate basis for invoking strict scrutiny," id. at 28-29.

At least one indicator of a bona fide domiciliary intent identified by University officials, viz., ownership of a home or real property, may advantage the 'wealthier' student. But plaintiffs do not advance, nor would the evidence support, the argument that plaintiffs' impecunity rendered them completely unable to qualify for resident-student status, see id. at 20. Furthermore, home ownership is not a prerequisite to reclassification. Many nonhomeowning students, including the plaintiff Black, have been reclassified as residents in response to other reliable indicia of bona fide domiciliary intent.

Finally, it has not been shown or suggested that home ownership assures reclassification. Thus, even though home ownership may be considered a wealth-based indicator of domiciliary intent, a constitutionally "suspect" classification of nonresidents is not established.

The plaintiffs further argue that the Rules implicate their fundamental right to travel. See, e.g., Memorial Hospital v. Maricopa County, 415 U.S. 250, 39 L. Ed. 2d 306, 94 S. Ct. 1076 (1974) [durational residency requirements for free medical care excessively burden right to travel]; Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 31 L. Ed. 2d 274, 92 S. Ct. 995 (1972) [improper restriction of voter registration based on durational residency requirement] Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 89 S. Ct. 1322, 22 L. Ed. 2d 600 (1969) [durational residency requirement for welfare eligibility unjustifiably burdens right to interstate travel].

Plaintiffs misplace reliance on these cases in their attempt to demonstrate a constitutional connection between state post-secondary school tuition-rate residency classifications and the fundamental right to interstate travel. These cases

concerned state limitations on the right of new residents to receive basic necessities of life (Shapiro -- right to welfare assistance; Maricopa -- right to medical care), or to exercise the fundamental right to vote (Dunn). The Court in Shapiro expressly left open the question of the validity of waiting periods or residence requirements in relation to eligibility for tuition -- free education Shapiro, supra, 394 U.S. at 638 n. 21 . . . .

Montgomery v. Douglas, 388 F. Supp. 1139, 1143 (D. Colo. 1974) (emphasis added), aff'd mem., 422 U.S. 1030, 95 S. Ct. 2645, 45 L. Ed. 2d 687 (1975).

A state-subsidized, post-secondary education is not a fundamental constitutional right. See Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 102 S. Ct. 2382, 50 U.S.L.W. 4650, 4655, 72 L. Ed. 2d 786 (1982) [no fundamental right to state-financed public education]; accord San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1, 35, 36 L. Ed. 2d 16, 93 S. Ct. 1278 (1973); Hammond v. Marx, 406 F. Supp. 853, 856 (D. Me. 1975).

The Supreme Court recently refused to apply the "rational relationship" test in an equal protection challenge to a Texas statute withholding state funds for the education of illegal alien children. Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 102 S. Ct. 2382, 50 U.S.L.W. 4650, 72 L. Ed. 2d 786 (1982) (5-4). After acknowledging the existence of "a substantial 'shadow population' of illegal immigrants -- numbering in the millions -- within our borders" with illegal alien children being "special members of this underclass," 457 U.S. at 219, 102 S. Ct. at , the Court selected an intermediate standard of scrutiny, requiring Texas to demonstrate a "substantial interest" in its discriminatory classification, see Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190, 50 L. Ed. 2d 397, 97 S. Ct. 451 (1976). Although the Court reiterated that public education is not a fundamental right, it concluded that complete denial of access to public education "imposes a lifetime of hardship on a discrete class of children not accountable for their disabling status[,] [and the] stigma of illiteracy." 457 U.S. at 223, 102 S. Ct. at . The present case involves no such "discrete class" or unusual "hardship".

There being no "fundamental right" or "suspect class" implicated here, the appropriate "equal protection" test is whether the residency criteria bear a rational relationship to some legitimate state interest. Lister v. Hoover, 655 F.2d 123, 127 (7th Cir. 1981); Hooban v. Boling, 503 F.2d 648, 650 (6th Cir. 1974) (and cases cited therein). As the Supreme Court has explained --

In the area of economics and social welfare, a State does not violate the Equal Protection Clause merely because the classifications made by its laws are imperfect. If the classification has some 'reasonable basis,' it does not offend the Constitution simply because the classification 'is not made with mathematical nicety or because in practice it results in some inequality.' Lindsley v. Natural Carbonic Gas Co., 220 U.S. 61, 78 [31 S. Ct. 337, 340, 55 L. Ed. 369]. 'The problems of government are practical ones and may justify, if they do not require, rough accommodations -- illogical, it may be, and unscientific.' Metropolis Theatre Co. v. City of Chicago, 228 U.S. 61, 69-70 [33 S. Ct. 441, 443, 57 L. Ed. 730]. 'A statutory discrimination will not be set aside if any state of facts reasonably may be conceived to justify it.' McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 426 [81 S. Ct. 1101, 1105, 6 L. Ed. 2d 393].

Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471, 485, 25 L. Ed. 2d 491, 90 S. Ct. 1153 (1970).

The purpose of the Rules is to permit practicable administrative distinctions between students who are in Maine primarily for the purpose of their education and students who are bona fide domiciliaries entitled to attend the University at the preferential tuition rate subsidized by Maine taxpayers. 2" In Vlandis v. Kline, 412 U.S. 441, 37 L. Ed. 2d 63, 93 S. Ct. 2230 (1973), which invalidated a Connecticut statute irreversibly classifying certain students, at the time of their admission, as "out-of-state" students, the Court nonetheless recognized that

a State has a legitimate interest in protecting and preserving the quality of its colleges and universities and the right of its own bona fide residents to attend such institutions on a preferential tuition basis . . . . The State can establish such reasonable criteria for in-state status as to make virtually certain that students who are not, in fact, bona fide residents of the State, but who have come there solely for educational purposes, cannot take advantage of the in-state rates.

412 U.S. at 452-54.

A. Spouses of Maine Residents

Plaintiffs challenge the "resident" status automatically accorded by the Rules to a nonresident student, male or female, 3" who marries a Maine resident. A similar provision has been said to "accord with valid state interests in granting resident tuition to dependents and family members of state residents." Lister v. Hoover, 655 F.2d 123, 128 (7th Cir. 1981).

It seems reasonable to suppose that marriages between out-of-state students and Maine residents are not often arranged to buttress requests for tuition-rate reclassification. Furthermore, and as a general rule, it is not unreasonable to view marriage to a Maine resident as a significant indicator of the strength of one's ties to Maine, as opposed to another state, and thus as substantiation of a stated intention to remain in Maine indefinitely. Given the reasonableness of its predicate, this provision of the Rules finds further rational foundation in its administrative convenience.

B. Exemption for Military Personnel & Dependents

The establishment of in-state tuition rates for members of the armed forces on active duty in Maine and for their dependents is a reasonable attempt to further Maine's legitimate interest in supporting all United States citizens who serve their country in the military. The Rules contribute to the fabric of an informal interstate system of reciprocity which benefits Maine citizens serving in the military in other states. In discussing a similar provision, the Seventh Circuit concluded that "valid state interests [were] involved in all of the challenged exemptions." Lister v. Hoover, supra, 655 F.2d at 127 n.7.

C. Home Ownership

The plaintiffs argue that the Rules impermissibly discriminate against students who do not own real estate in Maine, particularly homes. Automatic reclassification is neither granted nor denied under the Rules, either on their face or as applied, on the basis of home ownership. At most, home ownership is considered significant corroborative evidence of intent to remain in Maine indefinitely.

Plaintiffs maintain that a factor such as home ownership may not be considered at all, because it is dependent, at least in part, upon "wealth". Plaintiffs have not demonstrated that consideration of home ownership implicates a fundamental right or a suspect classification. Thus, the consideration of home ownership as a significant indicator of bona fide domiciliary intent is permissible provided it is reasonable. Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. at 485. The Court believes it reasonable for University officials, as a general rule, to consider that a student who owns a home in Maine is more likely than his nonhomeowning-student counterpart to have formed the requisite intent to remain in Maine beyond graduation.

D. Initial Classification v. Reclassification

As their final equal protection challenge, plaintiffs assert that a student claiming resident status at the time of admission to the University is subjected to a less rigorous standard than a student seeking reclassification after having been classified a nonresident.

It is not at all clear that a less rigorous classification standard is applied at the time of admission. The presumption of nonresidency applicable to out-of-state students enrolling in the University "for a full academic program" is not expressly rendered inapplicable to students claiming resident status at the time of admission. The instructions provided to applicants for admission to the School of Law [Joint Exhibit 1(c)] state that in order "to establish clearly the residency status of each student before registering" the University of Maine School of Law will apply the Rules governing residence. These instructions go on to quote the Rules verbatim. The fact that the student is asked to specify his state of residence on the application for admission does not mean that a claim of residence is accepted without question.

The plaintiffs point to an inter-office memorandum of the University of Maine School of Law stating that a student's residence is "based normally on that state which is given as state of residency by the applicant on the application form," Joint Exhibit 1(d), but the memorandum further states: "If there is a question regarding [residency] it is raised at an Admissions Committee meeting and finally decided upon there," id.

Students seeking reclassification must complete a questionnaire. Applicants for admission to the School of Law are also asked to explain the basis for claiming a Maine residence. The existence of different information-gathering procedures does not mean that more or less scrutiny is given the information gathered.

Even if a satisfactory showing had been made that a less onerous burden of going forward with the evidence is imposed on those who claim a Maine residence at the time of their admission to the University, the Court would consider such a practice reasonable. Most students claiming to be Maine residents at the time of their initial application for admission are likely to do so on the basis of readily verifiable preadmission affiliations with Maine; whereas most students requesting reclassification as residents would have to rely upon postadmission affiliations with Maine, often mere incidents of their presence in Maine for the primary purpose of attending the University. Preadmission connections with Maine, on the other hand, are reasonably considered more reliable indicators of domiciliary intent, even without other corroborative evidence. Finally, scrutiny of the residency claim of every applicant for University admission would impose a much heavier administrative burden without commensurate improvement in the reliability of the decisionmaking results.

Due Process Claims

Plaintiffs' due process challenge comprises three components. First, plaintiffs say that they were denied substantive due process in that the rejections of their requests for reclassification were "arbitrary and irrational" in light of the evidence and the reasons given. Second, they argue that the Rules, although purporting to permit rebuttal of the presumption of nonresidency, are applied in such a way by University officials that the presumption is in fact irrebuttable for "individuals such as Plaintiffs who are single and who do not own property in any state." Plaintiffs' Trial Brief at 8. Finally, plaintiffs assert that the requirement that a student seeking reclassification demonstrate that he has been a bona fide domiciliary of the state for the preceding calendar year violates the due process standards enunciated in Vlandis v. Kline, 412 U.S. 441, 37 L. Ed. 2d 63, 93 S. Ct. 2230 (1973).

A. Arbitrariness of Reclassification Decisions

The several administrative decisions refusing to reclassify plaintiffs as Maine residents are attacked as arbitrary and irrational. Plaintiffs point to their questionnaire responses, which are consistent with plaintiffs' assertions that they are Maine domiciliaries, and they cite the failure of University officials to assign specific reasons for refusing reclassification. Plaintiffs further complain that one of the reasons identified by a University official for refusing a requested reclassification reflects that consideration was given to an inappropriate factor. Finally, plaintiffs maintain that the decisions of the University officials must be deemed arbitrary in light of the "overwhelming" evidence presented.

"The touchstone of due process is protection of the individual against arbitrary action of government, Dent v. West Virginia, 129 U.S. 114, 123, 32 L. Ed. 623, 9 S. Ct. 231 (1889)." Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 558, 41 L. Ed. 2d 935, 94 S. Ct. 2963 (1974). Although constitutionally-adequate procedures govern the determination of entitlements to state-created benefits, it is a further requirement of substantive due process that decision makers may not act in a manner which is "wholly arbitrary or irrational," Martinez v. California, 444 U.S. 277, 282, 62 L. Ed. 2d 481, 100 S. Ct. 553 (1980). See Kelley v. Johnson, 425 U.S. 238, 248, 47 L. Ed. 2d 708, 96 S. Ct. 1440 (1976); Drown v. Portsmouth School District, 451 F.2d 1106 (1st Cir. 1971); Martin v. Harrah Independent School District, 579 F.2d 1192 (10th Cir. 1978); Kindem v. City of Alameda, 502 F. Supp. 1108 (N.D. Calif. 1980); Beatham v. Manson, 369 F. Supp. 783, 789-792 (D. Conn. 1973). Cf. Willens v. University of Massachusetts, 570 F.2d 403, 406 (1st Cir. 1978). As a matter of due process, officialdom may not preempt a constitutionally-protected interest by ignoring "well settled rules and understandings [or by] disregard[ing] facts. . . ." Martin v. Harrah Independent School District, supra, 579 F.2d at 1200. The reasons underlying a decision may not be "arbitrary or capricious;" that is, the decision may not be "wholly unsupported" by fact, and its rationale may not be either trivial or irrelevant. See Drown v. Portsmouth School District, supra, 451 F.2d at 1108. See also Wishart v. McDonald, 500 F.2d 1110, 1115 (1st Cir. 1974); Fisher v. Snyder, 476 F.2d 375, 377 (8th Cir. 1973). In order to establish that an administrative decision is so arbitrary as to amount to a denial of substantive due process "the plaintiffs must show that there is no rational basis for the . . . decision . . . or that the decision was motivated by bad faith or ill will. . . ." Stevens v. Hunt, 646 F.2d 1168, 1170 (6th Cir. 1981) (citations omitted). See also Stratford v. State-House Inc., 542 F. Supp. 1008, 1015-16 (E.D. Ky. 1982) [substantial evidence is not required so long as decision is "supportable on any rational basis" and is not a result of "willful and unreasoning action, without consideration and in disregard of the facts"].

The state-created benefit presently at issue is a significantly reduced tuition rate. n4 Although a state university is not required to provide its "residents" with a lower tuition rate than "nonresidents," where a statutory or regulatory scheme purports to confer such a benefit to "bona fide domiciliaries," the due process clause is implicated. See Vlandis v. Kline, 412 U.S. 441, 37 L. Ed. 2d 63, 93 S. Ct. 2230 (1973). 5" See also Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Company, 455 U.S. 422, 102 S. Ct. 1148, 71 L. Ed. 2d 265, 50 U.S.L.W. 4247, 4250 (1982); Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480, 490-91 n.6, 63 L. Ed. 2d 552, 100 S. Ct. 1254 (1980). n4 The relevant tuition differentials were as follows: Academic Year 1979-80 1980-81 Nonresident $2,980 $3,190Resident 1,250 1,450 $1,730 $1,740

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