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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Gordon M. Ambach
Susan M. W. Norwick and Tarja U. K. Dachinger
(argued the cause for the appellant)
(argued the cause for the appellees)
Facts of the Case 

Susan Norwick and Tarja Dachinger were both foreign nationals who had resided in the United States for many years and were married to United States citizens. Both were eligible for citizenship, but had refused to apply. Both had applied for certification as public school teachers in New York State. New York law prohibited the certification of non-citizen teachers who had not sought citizenship. Both applications were denied certification solely on that ground. Norwick filed suit in federal district court, which Dachinger later joined. The three-judge district court ruled in their favor, arguing that the statute as "overbroad."


Did the New York statute violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Decision: 5 votes for Ambach, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Equal Protection

No. In a 5-4 opinion, the Court reversed the District Court and held that states could be justified in barring aliens from certain positions in government. Justice Lewis F. Powell's majority opinion asserted the state's interest in charging teachers with "an obligation to promote civic virtues and understanding in their classes, regardless of the subject taught." The statute furthered this interest, in that it affected only non-citizens who did not want to seek citizenship. This interest satisfied the "rational relationship" required by _Foley v. Connelie

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AMBACH v. NORWICK. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <>.
AMBACH v. NORWICK, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 25, 2015).
"AMBACH v. NORWICK," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015,