Holding: Because the city had a rational basis for its distinction between homeowners who had paid their taxes in a lump sum and those who paid over time by installments, the city’s refusal to provide a refund to those who paid in a lump sum did not violate the Equal Protection Clause.
Plain English Summary: Governments pay for civic projects, like new sewers, by requiring property owners to pay their fair share. In Indiana, state law assures that such shares would be equal for homeowners as they connected to the city sewer system. But Indianapolis decided to let taxpayers either pay for their connection one month at a time, or all at once, in the beginning. Later, it switched its payment system, and forgave any amounts still owed by those paying on the installment plan. Those who had paid in full thought that was unfair, because they had paid everything they owed, while their neighbors had not. They asked for refunds to make them equal, as state law required. The Court ruled that, as long as the initial obligations to pay were the same, the city need not pay refunds to those who had paid in full because that would be a bureaucratic hassle, and state law did not guarantee refunds, anyway.
Judgment: Affirmed, 6-3, in an opinion by Justice Breyer on June 4, 2012. The Chief Justice filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Scalia and Alito joined.
Merits Briefs for the Petition
Amicus Briefs in Support of the Petitioner
Merits Briefs for the Respondent
Amicus Briefs in Support of the Respondents