Article Title

Zoning Discrimination Affecting Retarded Persons

Publication Title

Washington University Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law


The Cleburne Court's opinion leaves readers uninformed as to why it subjected the Cleburne City Council's action to the more searching inquiry that resulted in its being held unconstitutional. Perhaps, as Justice Marshall has been arguing for years, the decision is sensible when one considers and balances the following three factors: the character of the classification in question, the relative importance to the individual of the right affected and the importance of the governmental interest supporting the classification.61 Mentally retarded persons evidence several indicia of a suspect class; the right to housing is very important; and the city's denying CLC a permit only served a limited public purpose. The real problem with the Cleburne decision, though, lies in the fact that the court fails to provide any clear direction as to when, if ever, zoning discrimination against retarded persons is constitutional.