Martinez v. Bynum: Facts of the Case
Roberto Morales, who was born in McAllen, Texas, was a citizen of the United States. After his birth, Roberto and his parents, Mexican citizens, returned to Mexico, where he lived until he was eight years old. When Roberto turned eight, his mother and father sent him to live with his sister, who had established legal residency in McAllen, Texas. The family’s goal was that Roberto would re-enter the United States and live with his sister in order to attend American public schools and to learn English.
Even though Roberto was a citizen, local school board officials denied Roberto a tuition-free education pursuant to a state statute that denied such an education to children who lived apart from their parents or guardians and who were present in districts merely to obtain an education. Roberto’s sister filed a lawsuit claiming this statute was unconstitutional, as it violated provisions of the Equal Protection Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the Privileges and Immunities Clause.
The lower courts ruled in favor of the school board on the ground that Texas had a substantial interest in assuring that services intended for the state’s residents were provided only to residents.