A large army base is located in Morgan County, North
Carolina. The children of soldiers who live on-base typically
attend schools funded and operated by the federal government.
However, soldiers who reside off-base have a total of 1000 children who
attend public schools in Morgan County. Most of those children
are not permanent residents of North Carolina, but only temporary
residents who live in Morgan County because one or both of their
parents are stationed there.
The Morgan County School District recently enacted a regulation that
requires that children who are out-of-state residents, but who are
living in Morgan County, must pay tuition to attend the Morgan County
public schools. The tuition charge is $2000 per year. The
School District argues that this amount is the uncompensated amount of
the extra burden on the school district due to the presence of this
large number of nonresident children. The school district
receives no federal impact aid at the present time. Its schools
are funded by a combination of state, federal and local money.
A lawsuit has been filed arguing that the District’s regulation is
preempted by the Supremacy Clause because of conflict with a general
policy embodied in the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940,
50 U.S.C. App. § 574(1), of relieving military personnel from
double state taxation.
The Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940 was enacted "to
provide for, strengthen, and expedite the national defense" by
suspending certain civil liabilities of military personnel "in order to
enable such persons to devote their entire energy to the defense needs
of the Nation." To this end, § 514 of the Act provides that
the residence or domicile of a person is not affected by absence from a
state in compliance with military or naval orders, and immunizes
military personnel from taxation of income or personal property where
such persons are not residents or domiciliaries.
In their suit, plaintiffs contend that this statute embodies a general
policy of relieving military personnel from multiple state taxation,
and that because the District's tuition requirement would result in
double taxation to support public schools, it must be preempted under
the Supremacy Clause of the federal Constitution. U.S. Const.,
art. VI, cl. 2.
Will the plaintiffs succeed in their lawsuit? You might want to
consult the review material on Preemption
in considering this question.