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U.S. Supreme Court

Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas, 416 U.S. 1 (1974)

Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas

No. 73-191

Argued February 19-20, 1974

Decided April 1, 1974

416 U.S. 1


A New York village ordinance restricted land use to one-family dwellings, defining the word "family" to mean one or more persons related by blood, adoption, or marriage, or not more than two unrelated persons, living and cooking together as a single housekeeping unit and expressly excluding from the term lodging, boarding, fraternity, or multiple dwelling houses. After the owners of a house in the village, who had leased it to six unrelated college students, were cited for violating the ordinance, this action was brought to have the ordinance declared unconstitutional as violative of equal protection and the rights of association, travel, and privacy. The District Court held the ordinance constitutional, and the Court of Appeals reversed.


1. Economic and social legislation with respect to which the legislature has drawn lines in the exercise of its discretion will be upheld if it is "reasonable, not arbitrary," and bears "a rational relationship to a [permissible] state objective," Reed v. Reed, 404 U. S. 71, 404 U. S. 76, and here the ordinance -- which is not aimed at transients and involves no procedural disparity inflicted on some but not on others or deprivation of any "fundamental" right -- meets that constitutional standard, and must be upheld as valid land use legislation addressed to family needs. Berman v. Parker, 348 U. S. 26. Pp. 416 U. S. 7-9. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 416 U. S. 2

2. The fact that the named tenant appellees have vacated the house does not moot this case, as the challenged ordinance continues to affect the value of the property. Pp. 416 U. S. 9-10.

476 F.2d 806, reversed.

DOUGLAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., post, p. 416 U. S. 10, and MARSHALL, J., post, p. 416 U. S. 12, filed dissenting opinions.

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