Outraged Over Immigration: Rethinking Doctrinal Responses

Corinna Barrett Lain, University of Richmond


This Note argues that the Supreme Court should take the opportunity presented by Proposition 187 to rethink its position in Plyler v. Doe, and that it should abandon Plyler for a more doctrinally sound equal protection approach to state discrimination against undocumented aliens. Part I reviews the Supreme Court's major documented alien cases, concluding that notions of sovereignty determine when discrimination against aliens is constitutional and when it is not. Part II examines the Supreme Court's two major undocumented alien cases in an attempt to reconcile them with the cases discussed in Part I. Part III argues that the Supreme Court should overrule Plyler v. Doe, restoring doctrinal coherence to its equal protection approach to alien classifications while realigning the Court's documented and undocumented alien decisions. The Conclusion returns to Proposition 187 and the opportunity it presents for the Supreme Court to overrule Plyler v. Doe.