Sparked by a former California congressman who felt victimized, a class-action lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Yolo County challenging a state law that allows undocumented immigrants to pay resident tuition fees at public colleges.
The actual problem behind this lawsuit is that illegal immigrants can pay resident tuition fees while out-of-state students, genuine red-blooded American citizens, pay out-of-state tuition, which is significantly higher.
Here again, we're asking the courts to play the role of the legislature. I'll grant that out-of-staters can have a legitimate beef about having to pay a higher tuition than someone who lives in the state illegally, but is it against the law for the legislature to create this situation? Yes, it's against federal law for the people to be here, but must it be against state law for them to go to school, or to pay in-state tuition?
Suits against the state shouldn't be for issues that are unfair, they should be for issues that are unlawful. Some things that are unfair are also unlawful, violating equal protection laws or due process or First Amendment rights, etc. But I doubt that in-state and out-of-state tuition is an unlawful concept, and since the legislature created it, shouldn't the legislature be able to identify who pays one amount and who pays another?
I'm counting on my readers to help me make up my mind on this, but I'm actually leaning towards the legislature on this one. This is an area that is clearly in the legal realm of the legislature to direct, and it has done so. Is there a legal argument here, or just a fairness argument? If it's just fairness, I'm sticking with the current law.