Callahan v. Woods, No. 83-1688

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore GOODWIN, PREGERSON and NELSON; NELSON
Citation736 F.2d 1269
PartiesRobert Dale CALLAHAN, Plaintiff/Appellant, v. Marion WOODS, Director of California Department of Benefit Payments, and Margaret Heckler, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Defendants/Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 83-1688
Decision Date05 July 1984

Page 1269

736 F.2d 1269
87 A.L.R.Fed. 897
Robert Dale CALLAHAN, Plaintiff/Appellant,
v.
Marion WOODS, Director of California Department of Benefit
Payments, and Margaret Heckler, Secretary of
Health and Human Services, Defendants/Appellees.
No. 83-1688.
United States Court of Appeals,
Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted Jan. 13, 1984.
Decided March 30, 1984.
As Amended July 5, 1984.

Page 1270

Alan Jaroslovsky, Santa Rosa, Cal., for plaintiff/appellant.

Page 1271

Winifred Smith, Deputy Atty. Gen., San Francisco, Cal., Peter R. Maier, Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for defendants/appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Before GOODWIN, PREGERSON and NELSON, Circuit Judges.

NELSON, Circuit Judge:

Out of a sincere religious belief that universal numbers are "the mark of the beast" by which the Antichrist endeavors to control mankind, Robert Dale Callahan seeks to receive Aid to Families with Dependent Children benefits without having to obtain a social security number for his infant daughter. The district court granted summary judgment against Callahan, ruling that the burden on Callahan's religious exercise was outweighed by the government's compelling interest in having aid recipients classified by number, and that the number requirement was the least restrictive means of administering the AFDC program. On appeal, Callahan asks this court to reverse the summary judgment and instruct the district court to enter judgment in his favor on the ground that "administrative viability" cannot constitute the compelling state interest required to override a protected religious belief. Because neither party is entitled to summary judgment on the facts presented, we remand to the district court for further proceedings.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

State participation in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program ("AFDC"), 42 U.S.C. Sec. 601 et seq., is optional. To participate, a state must submit to the Secretary of Health and Human Services ("HHS") a plan that meets all the requirements of the federal statute, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 602(a), and the implementing federal regulations, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 602(b); 45 C.F.R. Sec. 201.2.

Section 602(a)(25), added in 1974, provides:

(A) that, as a condition of eligibility under the plan, each applicant for or recipient of aid shall furnish to the State agency his social security account number (or numbers, if he has more than one such number), and (B) that such State agency shall utilize such account numbers, in addition to any other means of identification it may determine to employ in the administration of such plan....

(Emphasis added.) "Applicant" and "recipient" are defined in the implementing regulation as including "the caretaker relative, the children, and any other individual whose needs are considered in determining the amount of assistance." 45 C.F.R. Sec. 232.10(f). Accordingly, the State of California has adopted regulations which comply with the federal social security number ("SSN") requirement. See E.A.S. (eligibility and assistance standards) Sec. 40-105.2.

In 1979 Robert Dale Callahan sought to enjoin the Director of the California Department of Social Services and the Secretary of HHS from requiring him to obtain a social security number for his infant daughter, Serena, in order to receive AFDC benefits to which his family was otherwise entitled. Callahan claimed that compliance with the regulation requiring an SSN would impermissibly burden his first amendment right to free exercise of his religious beliefs. Specifically, he claimed that the Book of Revelation condemns the use of a universal number to designate a human being because such a number is the "mark of the beast" through which the Antichrist seeks to control mankind. 1 Callahan

Page 1272

therefore refused to force his daughter to assume that mark.

Earlier in this lawsuit, the district court held that while Callahan's beliefs were sincere, they were not entitled to first amendment protection because they arose in a purely secular context and were not therefore "rooted in religious belief." Callahan v. Woods, 479 F.Supp. 621, 622 (N.D.Cal.1979). This court reversed the award of summary judgment, holding that Callahan's beliefs were religious and therefore protected by the first amendment. It remanded the case to the district court to consider: 1) the extent to which Callahan's beliefs are burdened by the government's SSN requirement; and 2) whether the government regulation is the least restrictive means of achieving some compelling state interest. Callahan v. Woods, 658 F.2d 679, 687 (9th Cir.1981).

On remand, the district court, 559 F.Supp. 163, determined that the burden on Callahan, although substantial, was heavily outweighed by the government's compelling interest in having aid recipients classified by SSNs, and that the requirement is the least restrictive means of administering efficiently an enormous social welfare program. The court based its grant of summary judgment for the government on the detailed affidavits of two HHS officials which describe the origins, use, and operation of the SSN system in the AFDC program. Callahan appeals.

ISSUE

Was the district court correct in ruling as a matter of law that a regulation requiring the assignment of a number to every social security recipient is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling state interest?

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Grants of summary judgment are reviewable by this court de novo. National Union Fire Insurance Co. v. Argonaut Insurance Co., 701 F.2d 95, 96 (9th Cir.1983). Summary judgment has been properly granted when it appears that there was no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In this case, Callahan did not argue below and does not argue here that disputed issues of fact precluded summary judgment. Rather, he contends that the government cannot prevail as a matter of law. We must therefore accept the uncontested government affidavits as the facts of this case to which the law must be applied.

DISCUSSION

I. Formulating the Applicable Test

The government must shoulder a heavy burden to defend a regulation affecting religious actions. It is usually said that the challenged regulation must be the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling state interest. See, e.g., Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 92 S.Ct. 1526, 32 L.Ed.2d 15 (1972); Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398, 83 S.Ct. 1790, 10 L.Ed.2d 965 (1963).

Commentators have observed that, because of its broad...

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44 practice notes
  • American Baptist Churches in the USA v. Meese, No. C-85-3255 RFP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • March 24, 1989
    ...626 F.2d 477, 488 (5th Cir.1980), cert. denied, 453 U.S. 912, 101 S.Ct. 3143, 69 L.Ed.2d 994 (1981)); see also Callahan v. Woods, 736 F.2d 1269, 1273 (9th Cir.1984). The court concluded that criminal prosecutions under 8 U.S.C. section 1324 bear a close "proximity and necessity" (Callahan v......
  • Grove v. Mead School Dist. No. 354, Nos. 83-3690
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • April 15, 1985
    ...that burden, and (3) the extent to which accommodation of the complainant would impede the state's objectives. Callahan v. Woods, 736 F.2d 1269, 1273 (9th The burden on Grove's free exercise of religion was minimal. Cassie was assigned an alternate book as soon as she and Grove objected to ......
  • E.E.O.C. v. Townley Engineering & Mfg. Co., No. 87-2272
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • September 19, 1988
    ...means" of furthering the state's goal. We have said that this is "the critical aspect of the free exercise analysis." Callahan v. Woods, 736 F.2d 1269, 1272 (9th Cir.1984). Callahan teaches that we measure the importance of regulation by ascertaining the marginal benefit of applying it to a......
  • Listecki v. Official Comm. of Unsecured Creditors (In re Milwaukee), Bankruptcy No. 11–20059–SVK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Wisconsin
    • July 29, 2013
    ...then a regulation which denies an exemption is not the least restrictive means of furthering the state interest.” Callahan v. Woods, 736 F.2d 1269, 1272–73 (9th Cir.1984). Once again, as the Eighth Circuit explained: “we cannot see how the recognition of what is in effect a free exercise ex......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
43 cases
  • American Baptist Churches in the USA v. Meese, No. C-85-3255 RFP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • March 24, 1989
    ...626 F.2d 477, 488 (5th Cir.1980), cert. denied, 453 U.S. 912, 101 S.Ct. 3143, 69 L.Ed.2d 994 (1981)); see also Callahan v. Woods, 736 F.2d 1269, 1273 (9th Cir.1984). The court concluded that criminal prosecutions under 8 U.S.C. section 1324 bear a close "proximity and necessity" (Callahan v......
  • Grove v. Mead School Dist. No. 354, Nos. 83-3690
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • April 15, 1985
    ...that burden, and (3) the extent to which accommodation of the complainant would impede the state's objectives. Callahan v. Woods, 736 F.2d 1269, 1273 (9th The burden on Grove's free exercise of religion was minimal. Cassie was assigned an alternate book as soon as she and Grove objected to ......
  • E.E.O.C. v. Townley Engineering & Mfg. Co., No. 87-2272
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • September 19, 1988
    ...means" of furthering the state's goal. We have said that this is "the critical aspect of the free exercise analysis." Callahan v. Woods, 736 F.2d 1269, 1272 (9th Cir.1984). Callahan teaches that we measure the importance of regulation by ascertaining the marginal benefit of applying it to a......
  • Listecki v. Official Comm. of Unsecured Creditors (In re Milwaukee), Bankruptcy No. 11–20059–SVK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Wisconsin
    • July 29, 2013
    ...then a regulation which denies an exemption is not the least restrictive means of furthering the state interest.” Callahan v. Woods, 736 F.2d 1269, 1272–73 (9th Cir.1984). Once again, as the Eighth Circuit explained: “we cannot see how the recognition of what is in effect a free exercise ex......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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