That's the essence of today's opinion in Armour v. City of Indianapolis, No. 11-161 (June 4, 2012), in which a 6-3 majority upheld the City's decision to forgive the balance owing for homeowners who had not fully paid the assessement, while not issuing refunds to their neighbors who had already paid in full.
The majority held that the City had a "rational basis" in effect to charge Homeowner A nearly 30 times as much for the same service as Homeowner B because it would be too much "administrative hassle" (to quote CJ Roberts' dissent) to process refunds to those who had fully paid the assessment. Since no suspect classification was involved, the City's actions are reviewed only for minimum rationality. Which, as we know, means "any excuse."
For many years, an Indiana statute, the "Barrett Law," authorized Indiana’s cities to impose upon benefited lot owners the cost of sewer improvement projects. The Law also permitted those lot owners to pay either immediately in the form of a lump sum or over time in installments. In 2005, the city of Indianapolis (City) adopted a new assessment and payment method, the "STEP" plan, and it forgave any Barrett Law installments that lot owners had not yet paid.A group of lot owners who had already paid their entire Barrett Law assessment in a lump sum believe that the City should have provided them with equivalent refunds. And we must decide whether the City’s refusal to do so unconstitutionally discriminates against them in violation of the Equal Protection Clause, Amdt. 14, §1. We hold that the City had a rational basis for distinguishing between those lot owners who had already paid their share of project costs and those who had not. And we conclude that there is no equal protection violation.
Slip op. at 1. And the reward for the approximately 25% of the homeowners who did the right thing and paid in full? The City's thanks, and a big "SUCKER" stamp for their foreheads from the Court.