The opinion of the court was delivered by: PORT
Memorandum-Decision and Order
The plaintiffs in the above-entitled action are applicants for low income housing in Syracuse, New York under the jurisdiction of the Syracuse Housing Authority. In their complaint they seek the convention of a three-judge court and a judgment:
1. Declaring the regulations set forth in 9 NYCRR 1627-3.1(a)
and § 3.02C2
of the Syracuse Housing Authority Management Resolutions unconstitutional and violative of the First and Fourteenth Amendments;
2. Enjoining the defendants Syracuse Housing Authority and its Director, McGarry, from enforcing the one year residency requirement for occupancy in Syracuse Housing Authority housing; and
3. Enjoining defendant Urstadt, Commissioner of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal of New York State from promulgating regulations in the future imposing "a durational residency requirement."
Jurisdiction is based on 28 U.S.C. §§ 2281, 2284; 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3)(4) and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Escalera v. New York City Housing Authority, 425 F.2d 853 (2d Cir. 1970); Holmes v. New York City Housing Authority, 398 F.2d 262 (2d Cir. 1968).
Upon the return of an order to show cause, I denied applications for the convention of a three-judge court
and for a temporary restraining order. At that time, I reserved decision on the motion to dismiss made by defendant Urstadt, which motion was subsequently granted.
The case was submitted to the court for decision against the remaining defendants upon a stipulation of facts set forth in full as Appendix A attached hereto.
The central theme of plaintiffs' argument is that the one year requirement of § 3.02C2 of the Syracuse Housing Authority Management Resolutions sets up an arbitrary and invidious discrimination between residents of New York of a year or more and those of less than a year thus "denying the latter group equal protection of the laws"
in violation of their constitutional rights.
Since the parties have stipulated that the plaintiffs' applications were denied by the Syracuse Housing Authority "solely on the grounds that the applicants did not meet the durational residency requirements set forth in § 3.02C2 of the Syracuse Housing Authority Management Resolutions," the question is squarely presented.
Before a determination of the constitutional validity of the classification can be made, it is necessary to establish the standard by which the classification is to be judged.
The plaintiffs, relying upon Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 89 S. Ct. 1322, 22 L. Ed. 2d 600 (1969), argue that the standard is "a compelling state interest" because "the classification here touches on the fundamental right of interstate movement * * *." 394 U.S. at 638, 89 S. Ct. at 1333. If, however, the classification does not "unreasonably burden or restrict this movement,"
or "penalize the exercise of that right,"
the compelling state interest standard does not apply.
The standard then applicable is the traditional one that "equal protection is denied only if the classification is 'without any reasonable basis.'"
While theoretically, any durational residential classification could be found to have an effect on the right to travel, i.e. some one or few persons might refrain from traveling because of it, such classification does not necessarily result in a penalty being imposed "upon the exercise of the constitutional right of interstate travel."
The insubstantiality of the impact of the classification on the right to travel is a factor to be considered in determining whether that right is being penalized. See 394 U.S. at 652, 89 S. Ct. 1322, 22 L. Ed. 2d 600, Warren, C.J., dissenting. To construe the impact of the resolution in issue here as anything other than insubstantial is fanciful and "far more theoretical than real."
The same insubstantiality attaches to the claimed interference with plaintiffs' first amendment rights ...