Constitutional Law Keyed to Cohen
Zobel v. Williams
In 1967, Alaska discovered large oil reserves on state owned land, which resulted in substantial income for the state. In order to efficiently utilize this income from the mineral reserves, the state amended its constitution to include the Permanent Fund to be used as a depository for at least 25% of the income each year. “The amendment prohibits the legislature from appropriating any of the principle of the fund but permits use of the fund’s earnings for general governmental purposes.” A dividend program was created by the legislature in 1980, which provided annual distributions to the State’s adult residents. The Appellants, Ronald M. Zobel and Patricia L. Zobel (Appellants), residents of Alaska since 1978, brought this suit in 1980. The suit challenged the dividend distribution plan as violative of their right to equal protection guarantees and their constitutional right to migrate to Alaska, to establish residency their and therefore to enjoy the full rights of Alaska citi zenship on the same terms as all other citizens of the state. Particularly, the Appellants challenge the preference given to people who were residents when Alaska became a state in 1959 over all those who have arrived since that year. The Alaska Supreme Court determined that the statute was constitutional.
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