Califano v. Gautier Torres Califano v. Bracero Colon, Nos. 77-88

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; BRENNAN; MARSHALL
Citation55 L.Ed.2d 65,98 S.Ct. 906,435 U.S. 1
Decision Date27 February 1978
Docket Number77-126,Nos. 77-88
PartiesJoseph A. CALIFANO, Jr., Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare v. Cesar GAUTIER TORRES. Joseph A. CALIFANO, Jr., Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare v. Carmelo BRACERO COLON et al

435 U.S. 1
98 S.Ct. 906
55 L.Ed.2d 65
Joseph A. CALIFANO, Jr., Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare

v.

Cesar GAUTIER TORRES. Joseph A. CALIFANO, Jr., Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare v. Carmelo BRACERO COLON et al.

Nos. 77-88, 77-126.
Feb. 27, 1978.

PER CURIAM.

Certain benefits under the Social Security Act, as amended in 1972, are payable only to residents of the United States, defined as the 50 States and the District of Columbia. The District Court for the District of Puerto Rico held in these

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cases that this geographic limitation is unconstitutional as applied to persons who upon moving to Puerto Rico lost the benefits to which they were entitled while residing in the United States. The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, responsible for the administration of the Social Security Act, has appealed.1

I

One of the 1972 amendments to the Social Security Act created a uniform program, known as the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, for aid to qualified aged, blind, and disabled persons. 86 Stat. 1465, 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et seq. (1970 ed., Supp. V). This federally administered program replaced the federal-state programs of Old Age Assistance, 49 Stat. 620, 42 U.S.C. § 301 et seq.; Aid to the Blind, 49 Stat. 645, 42 U.S.C. § 1201 et seq.; Aid to the Disabled, 64 Stat. 555, 42 U.S.C. § 1351 et seq.; and Aid to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled, 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et seq.

The exclusion of Puerto Rico in the amended program is apparent in the definitional section. Section 1611(f) of the Act, as set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 1382(f) (1970 ed., Supp. V), states that no individual is eligible for benefits during any month in which he or she is outside the United States. The Act defines "the United States" as "the 50 States and the District of Columbia." § 1614(e), as set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(e) (1970 ed., Supp. V). The repeal of the pre-existing programs did not apply to Puerto Rico. Thus persons in Puerto Rico are not eligible to receive SSI benefits, but are eligible to receive benefits under the pre-existing programs.2

Appellee Torres received SSI benefits while residing in Connecticut; the benefits were discontinued when he moved

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to Puerto Rico. Similarly, appellees Colon and Vega received benefits as residents of Massachusetts and New Jersey, respectively, but lost them on moving to Puerto Rico.3

Torres filed a complaint in the District Court of Puerto Rico claiming that the exclusion of Puerto Rico from the SSI program was unconstitutional, and a three-judge court was convened to adjudicate the suit. Viewing the geographic limitations in the law as an interference with the constitutional right of residents of the 50 States and the District of Columbia to travel, the court searched for a compelling governmental interest to justify such interference. Finding none, the court held §§ 1611(f) and 1614(e) unconstitutional as applied to Torres. Torres v. Mathews, 426 F.Supp. 1106.4 Soon after that decision, appellees Colon and Vega also sued in the Puerto Rico District Court. Relying on the Torres decision, a single judge enjoined the Social Security Administration from discontinuing their SSI benefits on the basis of their change of residency to Puerto Rico.5

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II

In Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 89 S.Ct. 1322, 22 L.Ed.2d 600 (1969), and Memorial Hospital v. Maricopa County, 415 U.S. 250, 94 S.Ct. 1076, 39 L.Ed.2d 306 (1974), this Court held that laws prohibiting newly arrived residents in a State or county from receiving the same vital benefits as other residents unconstitutionally burdened the right of interstate travel. As the Court said in Memorial Hospital, "the right of interstate travel must be seen as insuring new residents the same right to vital governmental benefits and privileges in the States to which they migrate as are enjoyed by other residents." Id., at 261, 94 S.Ct. at 1084.

In the present cases the District Court altogether transposed that proposition. It held that the Constitution requires that a person who travels to Puerto Rico must be given benefits superior to those enjoyed by other...

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120 practice notes
  • Tarhuni v. Holder, No. 3:13–cv–00001–BR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Oregon)
    • March 26, 2014
    ...within the bounds of due process.' ” Haig v. Agee, 453 U.S. 280, 307, 101 S.Ct. 2766, 69 L.Ed.2d 640 (1981) (quoting Califano v. Torres, 435 U.S. 1, 4 n. 6, 98 S.Ct. 906, 55 L.Ed.2d 65 (1978) ). Thus, this Court rejects the Official Capacity Defendants' argument that the right to internatio......
  • Long v. Barr, Civil No. 1:15-cv-1642
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • April 2, 2020
    ..."this ‘right’ ... can be regulated within the bounds of due process." Haig , 453 U.S. at 307, 101 S.Ct. 2766 (citing Califano v. Torres , 435 U.S. 1, 4 n.6, 98 S.Ct. 906, 55 L.Ed.2d 65 (1978) ); see also Kent v. Dulles , 357 U.S. 116, 125, 78 S.Ct. 1113, 2 L.Ed.2d 1204 (1958) ("The right to......
  • Alexander v. Schweicker, No. H-80-2.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • March 23, 1981
    ...because "Congress should have discretion in deciding how to expend necessarily limited resources," Id. See also, e. g., Califano v. Torres, 435 U.S. 1, 5, 98 S.Ct. 906, 908, 55 L.Ed.2d 65 In a reply memorandum on the issue of jurisdiction, plaintiffs appear to add to the substantive due pro......
  • U.S. v. Sanchez, No. 90-5749
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • June 4, 1993
    ...rational basis discrimination against residents of Puerto Rico in entitlement programs. 831 F.2d at 1175, citing Califano v. Torres, 435 U.S. 1, 98 S.Ct. 906, 55 L.Ed.2d 65 (1978); Harris v. Rosario, 446 U.S. 651, 100 S.Ct. 1929, 64 L.Ed.2d 587 (1980). See also, Juan Torruella, The Supreme ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
118 cases
  • Tarhuni v. Holder, No. 3:13–cv–00001–BR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Oregon)
    • March 26, 2014
    ...within the bounds of due process.' ” Haig v. Agee, 453 U.S. 280, 307, 101 S.Ct. 2766, 69 L.Ed.2d 640 (1981) (quoting Califano v. Torres, 435 U.S. 1, 4 n. 6, 98 S.Ct. 906, 55 L.Ed.2d 65 (1978) ). Thus, this Court rejects the Official Capacity Defendants' argument that the right to internatio......
  • Long v. Barr, Civil No. 1:15-cv-1642
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • April 2, 2020
    ..."this ‘right’ ... can be regulated within the bounds of due process." Haig , 453 U.S. at 307, 101 S.Ct. 2766 (citing Califano v. Torres , 435 U.S. 1, 4 n.6, 98 S.Ct. 906, 55 L.Ed.2d 65 (1978) ); see also Kent v. Dulles , 357 U.S. 116, 125, 78 S.Ct. 1113, 2 L.Ed.2d 1204 (1958) ("The right to......
  • Alexander v. Schweicker, No. H-80-2.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • March 23, 1981
    ...because "Congress should have discretion in deciding how to expend necessarily limited resources," Id. See also, e. g., Califano v. Torres, 435 U.S. 1, 5, 98 S.Ct. 906, 908, 55 L.Ed.2d 65 In a reply memorandum on the issue of jurisdiction, plaintiffs appear to add to the substantive due pro......
  • U.S. v. Sanchez, No. 90-5749
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • June 4, 1993
    ...rational basis discrimination against residents of Puerto Rico in entitlement programs. 831 F.2d at 1175, citing Califano v. Torres, 435 U.S. 1, 98 S.Ct. 906, 55 L.Ed.2d 65 (1978); Harris v. Rosario, 446 U.S. 651, 100 S.Ct. 1929, 64 L.Ed.2d 587 (1980). See also, Juan Torruella, The Supreme ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
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