City Of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc.

473 U.S. 432 (1985)


Hannah purchased a building in Cleburne, Texas (D), intending to lease it to the Cleburne Living Center (P) as a group home for the mentally retarded. P intended to comply with all applicable state and federal regulations. D informed P that it would be required to obtain a special use permit to operate the group home. D had classified the group home as a 'hospital for the feeble-minded,' which required P to obtain the special use permit and to renew it annually. P applied for the permit, which D denied after a public hearing. P filed suit, alleging that the ordinance which required the permit was invalid on its face, and as applied, as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause in that it discriminated against the mentally retarded. The District Court rejected P's claim, holding that no fundamental right was indicated; that mental retardation was neither a suspect nor a quasi-suspect classification; and that the ordinance was rationally related to a legitimate government interest. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that mental retardation was a quasi-suspect classification, and the ordinance should be evaluated under intermediate-level scrutiny. The Court found that the ordinance was invalid on its face, in that it did not further any important government interests. D appeals.