523 F.2d 415 (7th Cir. 1975), 75-1083, Mandley v. Trainor

Docket Nº:75-1083, 75-1245.
Citation:523 F.2d 415
Party Name:Venus MANDLEY et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. James L. TRAINOR et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:September 25, 1975
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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523 F.2d 415 (7th Cir. 1975)

Venus MANDLEY et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,


James L. TRAINOR et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 75-1083, 75-1245.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

September 25, 1975

Argued June 6, 1975.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Joan Humphrey, James D. Weill, Stephen G. Seliger, Michael F. Lefkow, Lorelei Borland, Chicago, Ill., for plaintiffs-appellants.

Irving Jaffe, Acting Asst. Atty. Gen., David M. Cohen, Atty., Appellate Section, Civ. Div., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., Samuel K. Skinner, U. S. Atty., Thomas P. Sullivan, Gregory G. Wille, Chicago, Ill., for defendants-appellees.

Before MOORE, [*] Senior Circuit Judge, CUMMINGS and BAUER, Circuit Judges.

CUMMINGS, Circuit Judge.

This class action was brought by Illinois recipients of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program and the Illinois and Chicago Welfare Rights Organizations against the Illinois Department of Public Aid (the Department), its director and the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW). Plaintiffs alleged that the Department's revised program for emergency assistance to AFDC recipients violated Section 406(e) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 606(e)), regulations promulgated thereunder by HEW, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Illinois Public Aid Code (Ill.Rev.Stats. ch. 23, § 12-8 (1973)). Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief against the implementation and operation of the program and an injunction requiring expedited processing and delivery of emergency assistance to those eligible to receive it.

After a bench trial, the district court rendered a decision holding that the Illinois program for emergency assistance conforms to the requirements of federal and state law, except that the processing was too slow. Jurisdiction was refused with respect to the pendent state claim that the Illinois program violates the Illinois Public Aid Code. However, the State defendants were ordered to show cause with respect to expediting emergency assistance.

In its second memorandum opinion, the district court ordered the State defendants to show cause why emergency assistance checks could not be written in Chicago or in a district office other than Springfield, Illinois, or why some other method of payment could not be devised to eliminate delays from unnecessary Springfield mailings.

The district court's final decision was entered on March 14, 1975. This order specified the steps to be taken by the Department to speed up the delivery of assistance in Cook County. However, in practical effect the order did not require the state defendants to furnish emergency assistance in the 101 other Illinois counties by any means other than mailing from Springfield.

Plaintiffs appealed from the original and final orders of the district court insofar as they denied plaintiffs the requested relief. We find the Illinois emergency assistance scheme to be in conflict with the Social Security Act and therefore invalid by virtue of the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. Accordingly, we reverse that portion of the district court's order that is to the contrary. 1

In 1935, Congress enacted the AFDC program as Title IV-A of the Social Security Act. Provision for the economic security of children was made by offering substantial federal funds to states submitting plans complying with the Act and HEW regulations. In 1968, Congress enacted an emergency assistance

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program to enable states to meet the immediate needs of children. The present dispute concerns the mandatory scope of the program under the federal statute once a state decides to include emergency assistance in its plan.

The key provision of the Social Security Act with respect to emergency assistance to needy children is contained in 42 U.S.C. § 606(e) (Section 406(e) of the Act) which provides:

"(1) The term 'emergency assistance to needy families with children' means any of the following, furnished for a period not in excess of 30 days in any 12-month period, in the case of a needy child under the age of 21 who is (or, within such period as may be specified by the Secretary, has been) living with any of the relatives specified in subsection (a)(1) of this section in a place of residence maintained by one or more of such relatives as his or their own home, but only where such child is without available resources, the payments, care, or services involved are necessary to avoid destitution of such child or to provide living arrangements in a home for such child, and such destitution or need for living arrangements did not arise because such child or relative refused without good cause to accept employment or training for employment

"(A) money payments, payments in kind, or such other payments as the State agency may specify with respect to, or medical care or any other type of remedial care recognized under State law on behalf of, such child or any other member of the household in which he is living, and

"(B) such services as may be specified by the Secretary;

but only with respect to a State whose State plan approved under section 602 of this title (section 402 of the Act) includes provision for such assistance.

"(2) Emergency assistance as authorized under paragraph (1) may be provided under the conditions specified in such paragraph to migrant workers with families in the State or in such part or parts thereof as the State shall designate."

In summary, this statute authorizes emergency assistance to a needy child under 21, living with relatives specified in 42 U.S.C. § 606(a), who is without available resources, if the assistance is necessary to avoid destitution or to provide living arrangements in a home, and if the need did not arise because such child or relatives refused without good cause to accept training or employment.

Under the March 1971 Illinois emergency assistance plan, its first election of the reimbursement of provisions in 42 U.S.C. § 606(c), eligibility was limited to AFDC recipients and confined to the following needs:


"(a) Paying delinquent rent or property payments allowed in lieu of rent to prevent eviction;

"(b) Paying delinquent utilities bills to restore discontinued service; and

"(c) Meeting immediate, emergent needs for other items of basic need included in the Standards of Assistance."

Moving costs were later added, and needy families not eligible for AFDC were excluded unless their needs resulted from civil disorders.

Subsequently HEW suggested that Illinois should be more specific in the listing of the emergencies it did compensate. Therefore, on October 1, 1973, the Department revised its program and limited assistance to situations where an "emergent need" existed. The payments were still restricted to those eligible for AFDC and further restricted by the definition of "emergent need":

"An 'emergent need' exists when one of the following crisis situations occurs:

"1. The AFDC family is homeless (without shelter) as a result of damage

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to the building rendering it uninhabitable (example: fire, condemnation).

"2. A court-ordered eviction occurs for reasons other than the recipient's failure to pay rent.

"3. The AFDC family is potentially homeless due to damage to a portion of the building.

"4. The AFDC applicant, determined presumptively eligible for AFDC, is in emergent need of clothing and/or household furnishings and equipment."

(Ch. 6500 of the Categorical Assistance Manual of the Department.)

Since the eligibility provisions were severely restricted in the October 1973 revisions in the program, the Department has provided only about one-fifth of the total dollar aid provided to needy families under the prior program.

Plaintiffs challenge the Illinois program for administering reimbursable emergency assistance under 45 U.S.C. § 606(e), Section 406(e) of the Social Security Act, as invalid for both constitutional and non-constitutional reasons. In accord with the time-honored practice of avoiding constitutional questions where a non-constitutional ground exists for resolving the case, this Court deals first with plaintiffs' statutory argument. 2

Validity of Illinois Emergency Assistance Plan

Plaintiffs first argue that defendants' program unlawfully excludes persons made eligible by the emergency assistance provisions of the Social Security Act. Plaintiffs claim that the Illinois program has unlawfully established eligibility standards narrower than those in 42 U.S.C. § 606(e) because that program provides assistance only to persons whose emergency needs fall within four limited types of crisis situations and provides no emergency assistance for families who are not applicants for or recipients of AFDC. Thus needy families who are in danger of destitution within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 606(e), but who are not otherwise eligible for AFDC or whose destitution came about in a manner not enumerated in Chapter 6500 of the Department's Manual, are denied emergency assistance. Plaintiffs rely especially on Carleson v. Remillard, 406 U.S. 598, 92 S.Ct. 1932, 32 L.Ed.2d 352; Townsend v. Swank, 404 U.S. 282, 92

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S.Ct. 502, 30 L.Ed.2d 448; Lewis v. Martin, 397 U.S. 552, 90 S.Ct. 1282, 25 L.Ed.2d 561; and King v. Smith, 392 U.S. 309, 88 S.Ct. 2128, 20 L.Ed.2d 1118. 3 Those cases establish that a state program which restricts eligibility beyond what was intended by Congress is invalid for inconsistency with the Social Security Act. In Townsend, the Illinois defendants and HEW asserted that Congress authorized the states to vary eligibility requirements from federal standards. However, the Court held that once a state elected to extend benefits to 18-20 year-olds, it was required to include all those made eligible by 42 U.S.C. § 606(a)(2)(B), including college students....

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