MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.
Belle Terre is a village on Long Island's north shore of about 220 homes inhabited by 700 people. Its total land area is less than one square mile. It has restricted land use to one-family dwellings excluding lodging houses, boarding houses, fraternity houses, or multiple-dwelling houses. The word "family" as used in the ordinance means, "[o]ne or more persons related by blood, adoption, or marriage, living and cooking together as a single housekeeping unit, exclusive of household servants. A number of persons but not exceeding two (2) living and cooking together as a single housekeeping unit though not related by blood, adoption, or marriage shall be deemed to constitute a family."
Appellees the Dickmans are owners of a house in the village and leased it in December 1971 for a term of 18 months to Michael Truman. Later Bruce Boraas became a colessee. Then Anne Parish moved into the house along with three others. These six are students at nearby State University at Stony Brook and none is
This case brings to this Court a different phase of local zoning regulations from those we have previously reviewed. Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365, involved a zoning ordinance classifying land use in a given area into six categories. The Dickmans' tracts fell under three classifications: U-2, which included two-family dwellings; U-3, which included apartments, hotels, churches, schools, private clubs, hospitals, city hall and the like; and U-6, which included sewage disposal plants, incinerators, scrap storage, cemeteries, oil and gas storage and so on. Heights of buildings were prescribed for each zone; also, the size of land areas required for each kind of use was specified. The land in litigation was vacant and being held for industrial development; and evidence was introduced showing that under the restricted-use
The Court sustained the zoning ordinance under the police power of the State, saying that the line "which in this field separates the legitimate from the illegitimate assumption of power is not capable of precise delimitation. It varies with circumstances and conditions." Id., at 387. And the Court added: "A nuisance may be merely a right thing in the wrong place,—like a pig in the parlor instead of the barnyard. If the validity of the legislative classification for zoning purposes be fairly debatable, the legislative judgment must be allowed to control." Id., at 388. The Court listed as considerations bearing on the constitutionality of zoning ordinances the danger of fire or collapse of buildings, the evils of overcrowding people, and the possibility that "offensive trades, industries, and structures" might "create nuisance" to residential sections. Ibid. But even those historic police power problems need not loom large or actually be existent in a given case. For the exclusion of "all industrial establishments" does not mean that "only offensive or dangerous industries will be excluded." Ibid. That fact does not invalidate the ordinance; the Court held:
Our decision in Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26, sustained a land-use project in the District of Columbia against a landowner's claim that the taking violated the Due Process Clause and the Just Compensation Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The essence of the argument against the law was, while taking property for ridding an area of slums was permissible, taking it "merely to develop a better balanced, more attractive community" was not, id., at 31. We refused to limit the concept of public welfare that may be enhanced by zoning regulations.
If the ordinance segregated one area only for one race, it would immediately be suspect under the reasoning of Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U.S. 60, where the Court invalidated a city ordinance barring a black from acquiring real property in a white residential area by reason of an 1866 Act of Congress, 14 Stat. 27, now 42 U. S. C. § 1982, and an 1870 Act, § 17, 16 Stat. 144, now 42 U. S. C. § 1981, both enforcing the Fourteenth Amendment. 245 U. S., at 78-82. See Jones v. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409.
In Seattle Trust Co. v. Roberge, 278 U.S. 116, Seattle had a zoning ordinance that permitted a " `philanthropic home for children or for old people' " in a particular district " `when the written consent shall have been obtained of the owners of two-thirds of the property within four hundred (400) feet of the proposed building.' " Id., at 118. The Court held that provision of the ordinance unconstitutional, saying that the existing owners could "withhold consent for selfish reasons or arbitrarily and
The present ordinance is challenged on several grounds: that it interferes with a person's right to travel; that it interferes with the right to migrate to and settle within a State; that it bars people who are uncongenial to the present residents; that it expresses the social preferences of the residents for groups that will be congenial to them; that social homogeneity is not a legitimate interest of government; that the restriction of those whom the neighbors do not like trenches on the newcomers' rights of privacy; that it is of no rightful concern to villagers whether the residents are married or unmarried; that the ordinance is antithetical to the Nation's experience, ideology, and self-perception as an open, egalitarian, and integrated society.
We find none of these reasons in the record before us. It is not aimed at transients. Cf. Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618. It involves no procedural disparity inflicted on some but not on others such as was presented by Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12. It involves no "fundamental" right guaranteed by the Constitution, such as voting, Harper v. Virginia Board, 383 U.S. 663; the right of association, NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449; the right of access to the courts, NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415; or any rights of privacy, cf. Griswold v. Connecticut,
It is said, however, that if two unmarried people can constitute a "family," there is no reason why three or four may not. But every line drawn by a legislature leaves some out that might well have been included.
It is said that the Belle Terre ordinance reeks with an animosity to unmarried couples who live together.
The regimes of boarding houses, fraternity houses, and the like present urban problems. More people occupy a given space; more cars rather continuously pass by; more cars are parked; noise travels with crowds.
A quiet place where yards are wide, people few, and motor vehicles restricted are legitimate guidelines in a land-use project addressed to family needs. This goal is a permissible one within Berman v. Parker, supra. The police power is not confined to elimination of filth, stench, and unhealthy places. It is ample to lay out zones where family values, youth values, and the blessings of quiet seclusion and clean air make the area a sanctuary for people.
The suggestion that the case may be moot need not detain us. A zoning ordinance usually has an impact on the value of the property which it regulates. But in spite of the fact that the precise impact of the ordinance sustained in Euclid on a given piece of property was not known, 272 U. S., at 397, the Court, considering the matter a controversy in the realm of city planning, sustained the ordinance. Here we are a step closer to the impact of the ordinance on the value of the lessor's property. He has not only lost six tenants and acquired only two in their place; it is obvious that the scale of rental values rides on what we decide today. When Berman reached us it was not certain whether an entire tract would be taken or only the buildings on it and a scenic easement. 348 U. S., at 36. But that did not make the case any the less a controversy in the constitutional sense. When Mr. Justice Holmes said for the Court in Block v. Hirsh, 256 U.S. 135, 155, "property rights may be cut down, and to that extent taken, without
MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, dissenting.
The constitutional challenge to the village ordinance is premised solely on alleged infringement of associational and other constitutional rights of tenants. But the named tenant appellees have quit the house, thus raising a serious question whether there now exists a cognizable "case or controversy" that satisfies that indispensable requisite of Art. III of the Constitution. Existence of a case or controversy must, of course, appear at every stage of review, see, e. g., Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 125 (1973); Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U.S. 452, 459 n. 10 (1974). In my view it does not appear at this stage of this case.
Plainly there is no case or controversy as to the named tenant appellees since, having moved out, they no longer have an interest, associational, economic or otherwise, to be vindicated by invalidation of the ordinance. Whether there is a cognizable case or controversy must therefore turn on whether the lessor appellees may attack the ordinance on the basis of the constitutional rights of their tenants.
The general "weighty" rule of practice is "that a litigant may only assert his own constitutional rights or immunities," United States v. Raines, 362 U.S. 17, 22 (1960). A pertinent exception, however, ordinarily limits a litigant to the assertion of the alleged denial of another's constitutional rights to situations in which there is: (1) evidence that as a direct consequence of the denial of constitutional rights of the others, the litigant faces substantial economic injury, Pierce v. Society of
In my view, lessor appellees do not, on the present record, satisfy either requirement of the exception. Their own brief negates any claim that they face economic loss. The brief states that "there is nothing in the record to support the contention that in a middle class, suburban residential community like Belle Terre, traditional families are willing to pay more or less than students with limited means like the Appellees." Brief for Appellees 54-55. And whether they face criminal prosecution for violations of the ordinance is at least unclear. The criminal summons served on them on July 19, 1972, was withdrawn because not preceded, as required by the village's procedure, by an order requiring discontinuance of violation within 48 hours. An order to discontinue violation was served thereafter on July 31, but was not followed by service of a criminal summons when the violation was not discontinued within 48 hours.
The Court argues that, because a zoning ordinance "has an impact on the value of the property which it regulates," there is a cognizable case or controversy. But
I dissent and would vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand to the District Court for further proceedings. If the District Court determines that a cognizable case or controversy no longer exists, the complaint should be dismissed. Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103 (1969).
MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL, dissenting.
This case draws into question the constitutionality of a zoning ordinance of the incorporated village of Belle Terre, New York, which prohibits groups of more than two unrelated persons, as distinguished from groups consisting of any number of persons related by blood, adoption, or marriage, from occupying a residence within the confines of the township.
I am in full agreement with the majority that zoning is a complex and important function of the State. It may indeed be the most essential function performed by local government, for it is one of the primary means by which we protect that sometimes difficult to define concept of quality of life. I therefore continue to adhere to the principle of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365 (1926), that deference should be given to governmental judgments concerning proper land-use allocation. That deference is a principle which has served this Court well and which is necessary for the continued development of effective zoning and land-use control mechanisms. Had the owners alone brought this suit alleging that the restrictive ordinance deprived them of their property or was an irrational legislative classification, I would agree that the ordinance would have to be sustained. Our role is not and should not be to sit as a zoning board of appeals.
I would also agree with the majority that local zoning authorities may properly act in furtherance of the objectives asserted to be served by the ordinance at issue here: restricting uncontrolled growth, solving traffic problems, keeping rental costs at a reasonable level, and making the community attractive to families. The police power which provides the justification for zoning is not narrowly
When separate but equal was still accepted constitutional dogma, this Court struck down a racially restrictive zoning ordinance. Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U.S. 60 (1917). I am sure the Court would not be hesitant to invalidate that ordinance today. The lower federal courts have considered procedural aspects of zoning,
My disagreement with the Court today is based upon my view that the ordinance in this case unnecessarily burdens appellees' First Amendment freedom of association and their constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy. Our decisions establish that the First and Fourteenth Amendments protect the freedom to choose one's associates. NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415, 430 (1963). Constitutional protection is extended, not only to modes of association that are political in the usual sense, but also to those that pertain to the social and economic benefit of the members. Id., at 430-431; Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Virginia Bar, 377 U.S. 1 (1964). See United Transportation Union v. State Bar of Michigan, 401 U.S. 576 (1971); Mine Workers v. Illinois State Bar Assn., 389 U.S. 217 (1967). The selection of one's living companions involves similar choices as to the emotional, social, or economic benefits to be derived from alternative living arrangements.
The freedom of association is often inextricably entwined with the constitutionally guaranteed right of privacy. The right to "establish a home" is an essential part of the liberty guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399 (1923); Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 495 (1965) (Goldberg, J., concurring). And the Constitution secures to an individual a freedom "to satisfy his intellectual and emotional needs in the privacy of his own home." Stanley
The instant ordinance discriminates on the basis of just such a personal lifestyle choice as to household companions. It permits any number of persons related by blood or marriage, be it two or twenty, to live in a single household, but it limits to two the number of unrelated persons bound by profession, love, friendship, religious or political affiliation, or mere economics who can occupy a single home. Belle Terre imposes upon those who deviate from the community norm in their choice of living companions significantly greater restrictions than are applied to residential groups who are related by blood or marriage, and compose the established order within the community.
This is not a case where the Court is being asked to nullify a township's sincere efforts to maintain its residential character by preventing the operation of rooming houses, fraternity houses, or other commercial or high-density residental uses. Unquestionably, a town is free to restrict such uses. Moreover, as a general proposition, I see no constitutional infirmity in a town's limiting the density of use in residential areas by zoning regulations which do not discriminate on the basis of constitutionally suspect criteria.
It is no answer to say, as does the majority, that associational interests are not infringed because Belle Terre residents may entertain whomever they choose. Only last Term MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS indicated in concurrence that he saw the right of association protected by the First Amendment as involving far more than the right to entertain visitors. He found that right infringed by a restriction on food stamp assistance, penalizing
Because I believe that this zoning ordinance creates a classification which impinges upon fundamental personal rights, it can withstand constitutional scrutiny only upon a clear showing that the burden imposed is necessary to protect a compelling and substantial governmental interest, Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 634 (1969). And, once it be determined that a burden has been placed upon a constitutional right, the onus of demonstrating that no less intrusive means will adequately protect the compelling state interest and that the challenged statute is sufficiently narrowly drawn, is upon the party seeking to justify the burden. See Memorial Hospital v. Maricopa County, 415 U.S. 250 (1974); Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513, 525-526 (1958).
A variety of justifications have been proffered in support of the village's ordinance. It is claimed that the ordinance controls population density, prevents noise, traffic and parking problems, and preserves the rent structure of the community and its attractiveness to families. As I noted earlier, these are all legitimate and substantial interests of government. But I think it clear that the means chosen to accomplish these purposes are both overinclusive and underinclusive, and that the asserted goals could be as effectively achieved by means of an ordinance that did not discriminate on the basis of constitutionally protected choices of lifestyle. The ordinance imposes no restriction whatsoever on the number
There are some 220 residences in Belle Terre occupied by about 700 persons. The density is therefore just above three per household. The village is justifiably concerned with density of population and the related problems of noise, traffic, and the like. It could deal with those problems by limiting each household to a specified number of adults, two or three perhaps, without limitation on the number of dependent children.
By limiting unrelated households to two person while placing no limitation on households of related individuals, the village has embarked upon its commendable course in a constitutionally faulty vessel. Cf. Marshall v. United States, 414 U.S. 417, 430 (1974) (dissenting opinion). I would find the challenged ordinance unconstitutional. But I would not ask the village to abandon its goal of providing quiet streets, little traffic, and a pleasant and reasonably priced environment in which families might raise their children. Rather, I would commend the village to continue to pursue those purposes but by means of more carefully drawn and even-handed legislation.
I respectfully dissent.
"When a legal distinction is determined, as no one doubts that it may be, between night and day, childhood and maturity, or any other extremes, a point has to be fixed or a line has to be drawn, or gradually picked out by successive decisions, to mark where the change takes place. Looked at by itself without regard to the necessity behind it the line or point seems arbitrary. It might as well or nearly as well be a little more to one side or the other. But when it is seen that a line or point there must be, and that there is no mathematical or logical way of fixing it precisely, the decision of the legislature must be accepted unless we can say that it is very wide of any reasonable mark." Louisville Gas Co. v. Coleman, 277 U.S. 32, 41 (dissenting opinion).