Harris v. Rosario, No. 79-1294

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; BRENNAN; MARSHALL
PartiesPatricia R. HARRIS, Secretary of Health and Human Services v. Awilda Santiago ROSARIO et al
Decision Date27 May 1980
Docket NumberNo. 79-1294

446 U.S. 651
100 S.Ct. 1929
64 L.Ed.2d 587
Patricia R. HARRIS, Secretary of Health and Human Services

v.

Awilda Santiago ROSARIO et al.

No. 79-1294.
May 27, 1980.
Rehearing Denied Aug. 11, 1980.
See 448 U.S. 912, 101 S.Ct. 27.

PER CURIAM.

The Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (AFDC), 49 Stat. 627, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 601 et seq., provides federal financial assistance to States and Territories to aid families with needy dependent children. Puerto Rico receives less assistance than do the States, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1308(a)(1), 1396d(b) (1976 ed. and Supp. II). Appellees, AFDC recipients residing in Puerto Rico, filed this class action against the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (now the Secretary of Health and Human Services) in March 1977 in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico; they challenged the constitutionality of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1308 and 1396d(b), claiming successfully that the lower level of AFDC reimbursement provided to Puerto Rico violates the Fifth Amendment's equal protection guarantee.

We disagree. Congress, which is empowered under the Territory Clause of the Constitution, U.S.Const., Art. IV, § 3, cl. 2, to "make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory . . . belonging to the United States," may treat Puerto Rico differently from States so long as there is a

Page 652

rational basis for its actions. In Califano v. Torres, 435 U.S. 1, 98 S.Ct. 906, 55 L.Ed.2d 65 (1978) (per curiam ), we concluded that a similar statutory classification was rationally grounded on three factors: Puerto Rican residents do not contribute to the federal treasury; the cost of treating Puerto Rico as a State under the statute would be high; and greater benefits could disrupt the Puerto Rican economy. These same considerations are forwarded here in support of §§ 1308 and 1396d(b), Juris. Statement 12-14,* and we see no reason to depart from our conclusion in Torres that they suffice to form a rational basis for the challenged statutory classification.

We reverse.

So ordered.

Mr. Justice BRENNAN and Mr. Justice BLACKMUN, not now being persuaded that the Court's summary disposition in Califano v. Torres, 435 U.S. 1, 98 S.Ct. 906, 55 L.Ed.2d 65 (1978), so clearly controls this case, would note probable jurisdiction and set the case for oral argument.

Mr. Justice MARSHALL, dissenting.

The Court today rushes to resolve important legal issues without full briefing or oral argument. The sole authority cited for the majority's result is another summary decision by this Court. The need for such haste is unclear. The dangers of such decisionmaking are clear, however, as the Court's analysis is, in my view, ill-conceived in at least two respects.

The first question that merits plenary attention is whether Congress, acting pursuant to the Territory Clause of the Constitution, U.S.Const., Art. IV, § 3, cl. 2, "may treat Puerto

Page 653

Rico differently from States so long as there is a rational basis for its actions." Ante, at 651-652. No authority is cited for this proposition. Our prior decisions do not support such a broad statement.

It is important to remember at the outset that Puerto Ricans are United States citizens, see 8 U.S.C. § 1402, and that different treatment to Puerto Rico under AFDC may well affect the benefits paid to these citizens.1 While some early opinions of this Court suggested that various protections of the Constitution do not apply to Puerto Rico, see, e. g. Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 244, 21 S.Ct. 770, 45 L.Ed. 1088 (1901); Balzac v. Porto Rico, 258 U.S. 298, 42 S.Ct. 343, 66 L.Ed. 627 (1922), the present validity of those decisions is questionable. See Torres v. Puerto Rico, 442 U.S. 465, 475-476, 99 S.Ct. 2425, 2431-2432, 61 L.Ed.2d 1 (1979) (BRENNAN, J., concurring in judgment). We have already held that Puerto Rico is subject to the Due Process Clause of either the Fifth or Fourteenth Amendment, Calero-Toledo v. Pearson Yacht Leasing Co., 416 U.S. 663, 668-669, n. 5, 94 S.Ct. 2080, 2084, n. 5, 40 L.Ed.2d 452 (1974), and the equal protection guarantee of either the Fifth or the Fourteenth Amendment, Examining Board v. Flores de Otero, 426 U.S. 572, 599-601, 96 S.Ct. 2264, 2279-2280, 49 L.Ed.2d 65 (1976). The Fourth Amendment is also fully applicable to Puerto Rico, either directly or by operation of the Fourteenth Amendment, Torres v. Puerto Rico, supra, at 471, 99 S.Ct. at 2429. At least four Members of this Court are of the view that all provisions

Page 654

of the Bill of Rights apply to Puerto Rico. 442 U.S., at 475-476, 99 S.Ct., at 2431-2432 (BRENNAN, J., joined by STEWART, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., concurring in judgment).

Despite these...

To continue reading

Request your trial
81 practice notes
  • Wal-Mart Puerto Rico, Inc. v. Zaragoza-Gomez, Civil No. 3:15-CV-03018 (JAF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • March 28, 2016
    ...art. I, § 9, cl. 3 ). The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, however, is a Territory, not a State, of the United States. Harris v. Rosario , 446 U.S. 651, 651, 100 S.Ct. 1929, 64 L.Ed.2d 587 (1980) (per curiam); see also Lebrón – Caceres , supra .It appears to be an open question whether the Bill......
  • Trailer Marine Transport Corp. v. Rivera Vazquez, No. 91-2172
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — First Circuit
    • June 1, 1992
    ...laws that make different provision for Puerto Rico than for the states, limited only by a rational basis requirement. Harris v. Rosario, 446 U.S. 651, 100 S.Ct. 1929, 64 L.Ed.2d 587 (1980). While fundamental constitutional rights are protected in Puerto Rico, not all federal constitutional ......
  • U.S. v. Sanchez, No. 90-5749
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • June 4, 1993
    ...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 Court and Puerto Rico, The Doctrine of Separate and Unequal 11 ......
  • Rabang v. I.N.S., No. 91-16125
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • September 20, 1994
    ...143, 24 S.Ct. at 810 (Congress has "refrained from incorporating the Philippines into the United States"). 19 See also Harris v. Rosario, 446 U.S. 651, 653, 100 S.Ct. 1929, 1930-31, 64 L.Ed.2d 587 (1980) (Marshall, J., dissenting) ("the present validity of those decisions [in the Insular Ca......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
80 cases
  • Wal-Mart Puerto Rico, Inc. v. Zaragoza-Gomez, Civil No. 3:15-CV-03018 (JAF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • March 28, 2016
    ...art. I, § 9, cl. 3 ). The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, however, is a Territory, not a State, of the United States. Harris v. Rosario , 446 U.S. 651, 651, 100 S.Ct. 1929, 64 L.Ed.2d 587 (1980) (per curiam); see also Lebrón – Caceres , supra .It appears to be an open question whether the Bill......
  • Trailer Marine Transport Corp. v. Rivera Vazquez, No. 91-2172
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — First Circuit
    • June 1, 1992
    ...laws that make different provision for Puerto Rico than for the states, limited only by a rational basis requirement. Harris v. Rosario, 446 U.S. 651, 100 S.Ct. 1929, 64 L.Ed.2d 587 (1980). While fundamental constitutional rights are protected in Puerto Rico, not all federal constitutional ......
  • U.S. v. Sanchez, No. 90-5749
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • June 4, 1993
    ...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 Court and Puerto Rico, The Doctrine of Separate and Unequal 11 ......
  • Rabang v. I.N.S., No. 91-16125
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • September 20, 1994
    ...143, 24 S.Ct. at 810 (Congress has "refrained from incorporating the Philippines into the United States"). 19 See also Harris v. Rosario, 446 U.S. 651, 653, 100 S.Ct. 1929, 1930-31, 64 L.Ed.2d 587 (1980) (Marshall, J., dissenting) ("the present validity of those decisions [in the Insular Ca......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 firm's commentaries
2 books & journal articles
  • Indigenous Subjects.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 Nbr. 8, June 2022
    • June 1, 2022
    ...250 (1901); Gonzalez v. Williams, 192 U.S. 1,10 (1904); Balzac v. Porto Rico, 258 U.S. 298,304-05 (1922) ; see also Harris v. Rosario, 446 U.S. 651, 651-52 (1980) (applying the Insular Cases's extraterritoriality doctrine to an equal-protection claim arising in Puerto (128.) Tuaua v. United......
  • The Insular Cases Run Amok: Against Constitutional Exceptionalism in the Territories.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 Nbr. 8, June 2022
    • June 1, 2022
    ...or lacking the votes to overrule them. See Reid, 354 U.S. at 14; Torres, 442 U.S. at 475-76 (Brennan, J., concurring); Harris v. Rosario, 446 U.S. 651, 652-53 (Marshall, J., dissenting) ; Fin. Oversight & Mgmt. Bd. for P.R. v. Aurelius Inv., LLC, 140 S. Ct. 1649, 1665 (2020); United Sta......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT