I don’t have much to say on the subject, except that it involves the question whether the particular language of two federal statutes (8 U.S.C. § 1623 and 8 U.S.C. § 1621) preempts Calif. Educ. Code § 68130.5. For instance, the main issue was whether the § 1623 statement that an illegal alien “shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit ... without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident” (emphasis added) preempted the California provision that allowed in-state tuition to anyone who “meets all of the following requirements”:
(1) High school attendance in California for three or more years.
(2) Graduation from a California high school or attainment of the equivalent thereof.
(3) Registration as an entering student at, or current enrollment at, an accredited institution of higher education in California not earlier than the fall semester or quarter of the 2001-02 academic year.
(4) In the case of a person without lawful immigration status, the filing of an affidavit with the institution of higher education stating that the student has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so.
This question, and the others in the case, shouldn’t be (and wasn’t) answered with reference to high constitutional or moral principles. Rather, the court should (and did) focus on the statutory text and related matters — have a look at the decision for that.