526 U.S. 489 (1999), 98-97, Saenz v. Roe

Docket Nº:Case No. 98-97
Citation:526 U.S. 489, 119 S.Ct. 1518, 143 L.Ed.2d 689, 67 U.S.L.W. 4291
Party Name:SAENZ, DIRECTOR, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, et al. v. ROE et al., on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated
Case Date:May 17, 1999
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 489

526 U.S. 489 (1999)

119 S.Ct. 1518, 143 L.Ed.2d 689, 67 U.S.L.W. 4291



ROE et al., on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated

Case No. 98-97

United States Supreme Court

May 17, 1999

Argued January 13, 1999



California, which has the sixth highest welfare benefit levels in the country, sought to amend its Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program in 1992 by limiting new residents, for the first year they live in the State, to the benefits they would have received in the State of their prior residence. Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code Ann. § 11450.03. Although the Secretary of Health and Human Services approved the change—a requirement for it to go into effect—the Federal District Court enjoined its implementation, finding that, under Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, and Zobel v. Williams, 457 U.S. 55, it penalized "the decision of new residents to migrate to [California] and be treated [equally] with existing residents," Green v. Anderson, 811 F.Supp. 516, 521. After the Ninth Circuit invalidated the Secretary's approval of § 11450.03 in a separate proceeding, this Court ordered Green to be dismissed. The provision thus remained inoperative until after Congress enacted the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), which replaced AFDC with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). PRWORA expressly authorizes any State receiving a TANF grant to pay the benefit amount of another State's TANF program to residents who have lived in the State for less than 12 months. Since the Secretary no longer needed to approve § 11450.03, California announced that enforcement would begin on April 1, 1997. On that date, respondents filed this class action, challenging the constitutionality of § 11450.03's durational residency requirement and PRWORA's approval of that requirement. In issuing a preliminary injunction, the District Court found that PRWORA's existence did not affect its analysis in Green. Without reaching the merits, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the injunction.


1. Section 11450.03 violates § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 498-507.

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(a) In assessing laws denying welfare benefits to newly arrived residents, this Court held in Shapiro that a State cannot enact durational residency requirements in order to inhibit the migration of needy persons into the State, and that a classification that has the effect of imposing a penalty on the right to travel violates the Equal Protection Clause absent a compelling governmental interest. Pp. 498-500.

(b) The right to travel embraces three different components: the right to enter and leave another State; the right to be treated as a welcome visitor while temporarily present in another State; and, for those travelers who elect to become permanent residents, the right to be treated like other citizens of that State. Pp. 500-502.

(c) The right of newly arrived citizens to the same privileges and immunities enjoyed by other citizens of their new State—the third aspect of the right to travel—is at issue here. That right is protected by the new arrival's status as both a state citizen and a United States citizen, and it is plainly identified in the Fourteenth Amendment's Privileges or Immunities Clause, see Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36, 80. That newly arrived citizens have both state and federal capacities adds special force to their claim that they have the same rights as others who share their citizenship. Pp. 502-504.

(d) Since the right to travel embraces a citizen's right to be treated equally in her new State of residence, a discriminatory classification is itself a penalty. California's classifications are defined entirely by the period of residency and the location of the disfavored class members' prior residences. Within the category of new residents, those who lived in another country or in a State that had higher benefits than California are treated like lifetime residents; and within the broad sub-category of new arrivals who are treated less favorably, there are 45 smaller classes whose benefit levels are determined by the law of their former States. California's legitimate interest in saving money does not justify this discriminatory scheme. The Fourteenth Amendment's Citizenship Clause expressly equates citizenship with residence, Zobel, 457 U.S., at 69, and does not tolerate a hierarchy of subclasses of similarly situated citizens based on the location of their prior residences. Pp. 504-507.

2. PRWORA's approval of durational residency requirements does not resuscitate § 11450.03. This Court has consistently held that Congress may not authorize the States to violate the Fourteenth Amendment. Moreover, the protection afforded to a citizen by that Amendment's Citizenship Clause limits the powers of the National Government as well as the States. Congress' Article I powers to legislate are limited not only by the scope of the Framers' affirmative delegation, but also by the principle that the powers may not be exercised in a way that violates

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other specific provisions of the Constitution. See Williams v. Rhodes, 393 U.S. 23, 29. Pp. 507-511.

134 F.3d 1400, affirmed.

Stevens, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined. Rehnquist, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Thomas, J., joined, post, p. 511. Thomas, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Rehnquist, C.J., joined, post, p. 521.

Theodore Garelis, Deputy Attorney General of California, argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs were Daniel E. Lungren, Attorney General, Charlton G. Holland III, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Frank S. Furtek, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, and JanieL. Daigle, Deputy Attorney General.

Solicitor General Waxman argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae in support of petitioners in part and respondents in part. With him on the brief were Assistant Attorney General Hunger, Deputy Solicitor General Kneedler, Edward C. DuMont, Mark B. Stern, Kathleen Moriarty Mueller, and Peter J. Smith.

Mark D. Rosenbaum argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were David S. Schwartz, Daniel P. Tokaji, Evan H. Caminker, Laurence H. Tribe, Martha F. Davis, Karl Manheim, Steven R. Shapiro, Alan L. Schlosser, Richard Rothschild, Clare Pastore, and Jordan C. Budd.[*]

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Justice Stevens delivered the opinion of the Court.

In 1992, California enacted a statute limiting the maximum welfare benefits available to newly arrived residents. The scheme limits the amount payable to a family that has resided in the State for less than 12 months to the amount payable by the State of the family's prior residence. The questions presented by this case are whether the 1992 statute was constitutional when it was enacted and, if not, whether an amendment to the Social Security Act enacted by Congress in 1996 affects that determination.


California is not only one of the largest, most populated, and most beautiful States in the Nation; it is also one of the most generous. Like all other States, California has participated in several welfare programs authorized by the Social Security Act and partially funded by the Federal Government. Its programs, however, provide a higher level of benefits and serve more needy citizens than those of most other States. In one year the most expensive of those programs, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), which was replaced in 1996 with Temporary Assistance to

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Needy Families (TANF), provided benefits for an average of 2,645,814 persons per month at an annual cost to the State of $2.9 billion. In California the cash benefit for a family of two—a mother and one child—is $456 a month, but in the neighboring State of Arizona, for example, it is only $275.

In 1992, in order to make a relatively modest reduction in its vast welfare budget, the California Legislature enacted § 11450.03 of the state Welfare and Institutions Code. That section sought to change the California AFDC program by limiting new residents, for the first year they live in California, to the benefits they would have received in the State of their prior residence.[1] Because in 1992 a state program either had to conform to federal specifications or receive a waiver from the Secretary of Health and Human Services in order to qualify for federal reimbursement, § 11450.03 required approval by the Secretary to take effect. In October 1992, the Secretary issued a waiver purporting to grant such approval.

On December 21, 1992, three California residents who were eligible for AFDC benefits filed an action in the Eastern District of California challenging the constitutionality

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of the durational residency requirement in § 11450.03. Each plaintiff alleged that she had recently moved to California to live with relatives in order to escape abusive family circumstances. One returned to California after living in Louisiana for seven years, the second had been living in Oklahoma for six weeks and the third came from Colorado. Each alleged that her monthly AFDC grant for the ensuing 12 months would be substantially lower under § 11450.03 than if the statute were not in effect. Thus, the former residents of Louisiana and Oklahoma would receive $190 and $341 respectively for a family of three even though the full California grant was $641; the former resident of Colorado, who had just one child, was limited to $280 a month as opposed to the full California grant of $504 for a family of two.

The District Court issued a temporary restraining order and, after a hearing, preliminarily enjoined implementation of the statute. District...

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