Kremens v. Bartley, No. 75-1064

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtREHNQUIST
Citation97 S.Ct. 1709,431 U.S. 119,52 L.Ed.2d 184
Decision Date16 May 1977
Docket NumberNo. 75-1064
PartiesJack B. KREMENS, etc., et al., Appellants, v. Kevin BARTLEY et al

431 U.S. 119
97 S.Ct. 1709
52 L.Ed.2d 184
Jack B. KREMENS, etc., et al., Appellants,

v.

Kevin BARTLEY et al.

No. 75-1064.
Argued Dec. 1, 1976.
Decided May 16, 1977.
Syllabus

Appellees, five mentally ill individuals who were between 15 and 18 years old at the time the complaint was filed, were the named plaintiffs in an action challenging the constitutionality of a 1966 Pennsylvania statute governing the voluntary admission and voluntary commitment to state mental health institutions of persons aged 18 or younger. Appellees sought to vindicate their constitutional rights and to represent a class consisting of all persons under 18 "who have been, are, or, may be admitted or committed" to state mental health facilities. The statute provided, inter alia, that a juvenile might be admitted upon a parent's application, and that, unlike an adult, the admitted person was free to withdraw only with the consent of the parent admitting him. After the commencement of the action, regulations were promulgated substantially increasing the procedural safeguards afforded minors aged 13 or older. After those regulations had become effective, and notwithstanding the differentiation therein between juveniles of less than 13 and those 13 to 18, the District Court certified the class to be represented by the plaintiffs as consisting of all persons 18 or younger who have been or may be admitted or committed to Pennsylvania mental health facilities pursuant to the challenged provisions. The District Court later issued a decision holding those provisions violative of due process. In July 1976, after that decision, and after this Court had noted probable jurisdiction, a new statute was enacted, repealing the provisions held to be unconstitutional except insofar as they relate to the mentally retarded. Under the 1976 Act a person 14 or over may voluntarily admit himself, but his parents may not do so; thus those 14 to 18 who were subject to commitment by their parents under the 1966 Act are treated as adults by the 1976 Act. Children 13 and younger may still be admitted for treatment by a parent. Those 14 and over may withdraw from voluntary treatment by giving written notice. Those under 14 may be released on the parent's request, and "any responsible party" may petition for release. Held:

1. The enactment of the 1976 Act, which completely repealed and replaced the challenged provisions vis-a-vis the named appellees, clearly

Page 120

moots the claims of the named appellees, who are treated as adults totally free to leave the hospital and who cannot be forced to return unless they consent to do so. Pp. 128-129.

2. The material changes in the status of those included in the class certified by the District Court that resulted from the 1976 Act and the regulations preclude an informed resolution of that class' constitutional claims. Pp. 129-133.

(a) Though the mootness of the claims of named plaintiffs does not "inexorably" require dismissal of the claims of the unnamed members of the class, Sosna v. Iowa, 419 U.S. 393, 95 S.Ct. 553, 42 L.Ed.2d 532; Franks v. Bowman Transportation Co., 424 U.S. 747, 96 S.Ct. 1251, 47 L.Ed.2d 444, this Court has never adopted a flat rule that the mere fact of certification by a district court requires resolution of the merits of the claims of the unnamed members of the class when those of the named parties had become moot. Pp. 129-130.

(b) Here the status of all members of the class, except those individuals who are younger than 13 and mentally retarded, has changed materially since this suit began; the intervening legislation has fragmented the class. The propriety of the class certification is thus a matter of gravest doubt. Cf. Indianapolis School Comm'rs v. Jacobs, 420 U.S. 128, 95 S.Ct. 848, 43 L.Ed.2d 74. Pp. 130-133.

(c) Moreover, the issue in this case with respect to a properly certified class is not one that is "capable of repetition, yet evading review." Sosna, supra, distinguished. P. 133.

3. Since none of the critical factors that might allow adjudication of the claims of a class after mootness of the named plaintiffs are present here, the case must be remanded to the District Court for reconsideration of the class definition, exclusion of those whose claims are moot, and substitution of class representatives with live claims. Pp. 133-135. 402 F.Supp. 1039, vacated and remanded.

Norman J. Watkins, Harrisburg, Pa., for the appellants by

Page 121

Bernard G. Segal, Philadelphia, Pa., for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court.

David Ferleger, Philadelphia, Pa., for the appellees.

Mr. Justice REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

I

Appellees Bartley, Gentile, Levine, Mathews, and Weand were the named plaintiffs in a complaint challenging the constitutionality of Pennsylvania statutes governing the voluntary admission and voluntary commitment to Pennsylvania mental health institutions of persons 18 years of age or younger. The named plaintiffs alleged that they were then being held at Haverford State Hospital, a Pennsylvania mental health facility, and that they had been admitted or committed pursuant to the challenged provisions of the

Page 122

Pennsylvania Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act of 1966, Pa.Stat.Ann., tit. 50, § 4101 et seq. (1969). Various state and hospital officials were named as defendants. 1

Plaintiffs sought to vindicate not only their own constitutional rights, but also sought to represent a class consisting of

"all person under eighteen years of age who have been, are, or, may be admitted or committed to Haverford State Hospital and all other state mental health facilities under the challenged provisions of the state statute." App. 10a-11a (complaint, P 7).

A three-judge United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania struck down the statutes as violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 402 F.Supp. 1039 (1975). The court also entered a broad order requiring the implementation of detailed procedural protections for those admitted under the Pennsylvania statutes. On December 15, 1975, this Court granted appellants' application for a stay of the judgment of the District Court. On March 22, 1976, we noted probable jurisdiction. 424 U.S. 964, 96 S.Ct. 1457, 47 L.Ed.2d 731.

In general, the 1966 Act, which has been superseded to a significant degree, provides for three types of admission to a mental health facility for examination, treatment, and care: voluntary admission or commitment (§§ 402 and 403), emergency commitment (§ 405), and civil court commitment (§ 406). At issue here was the constitutionality of the voluntary admission and commitment statutes,2 §§ 402 and 403,

Page 123

as those statutes regulate the admission of persons 18 years of age or younger. The statutes 3 provide that juveniles may be admitted upon the application of a parent, guardian,

Page 124

or individual standing in loco parentis and that, unlike adults, the admitted person is free to withdraw only with the consent of the parent or guardian admitting him.4

There have been two major changes in the Pennsylvania statutory scheme that have materially affected the rights of juveniles: the promulgation of regulations under the 1966 Act, and the enactment of the Mental Health Procedures Act in 1976. At the time the complaint was filed, the 1966 Act

Page 125

made little or no distinction between older and younger juveniles. Each of the named plaintiffs was at that time between 15 and 18 years of age. After the commencement of this action, but before class certification or decision on the merits by the District Court, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare promulgated regulations which substantially increased the procedural safeguards afforded to minors 13 years of age or older. The regulations, promulgated pursuant to statutory authority,5 became effective September 1, 1973. The major impact of the regulations 6 upon this litigation stems from the fact that the regulations accord significant procedural protections to those 13 and older, but not to those less than 13. The older juveniles are given notification of their rights, the telephone number of counsel, and the right to institute a § 406 involuntary commitment proceeding in court within two business days. Under § 406,7 a judicial hearing is held after notice to the parties. The younger juveniles are not given the right to a hearing and are still remitted to relying upon the admitting parent or guardian.

Although the regulations sharply differentiate between juveniles of less than 13 years of age and those 13 to 18, on April 29, 1974, the District Court nonetheless certified the following class to be represented by the plaintiffs:

"This action shall be maintained as a class action under Rule 23(b)(1) and (2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on behalf of the class comprised of all persons eighteen years of age or younger who have been, are or may be admitted or committed to mental health facilities in Pennsylvania pursuant to the challenged

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provisions of the state mental health law (i. e., 50 P.S. §§ 4402 and 4403). This definition of the class is without prejudice to the possibility that it may be amended or altered before the decision on the merits herein." App. 270a.

On July 9, 1976, after the decision below and after this Court had noted probable jurisdiction, Pennsylvania enacted a new statute substantially altering its voluntary admission procedures. Mental Health Procedures Act, Pa. Act No. 143. The new Act completely repeals the provisions declared unconstitutional below except insofar as they relate to mentally retarded persons. § 502. Under the new Act, any person 14 years of age or over may voluntarily admit himself, but his parents may not do so; those 14 to 18 who were subject to commitment by their parents under the 1966 Act, are treated essentially as...

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250 practice notes
  • Barley v. Riley, CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:10-CV-798-WC [WO]
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • September 11, 2013
    ...of an allegedly unconstitutional statute moots legal challenges to the legitimacy of the repealed legislation."); Kremens v. Bartley, 431 U.S. 119, 128-29 (1977) (holding moot a constitutional challenge to a state statute governing the involuntary commitment of mentally ill minors, because ......
  • NAACP v. State of Cal., Civ.No. S-79-857 MLS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • April 3, 1981
    ...an issue would benefit the general public does not, in and of itself, establish an Article III "case or controversy." Kremens v. Bartley, 431 U.S. 119, 136, 97 S.Ct. 1709, 1718, 52 L.Ed.2d 184 The concept of "standing" is an integral part of the Article III "case or controversy" requirement......
  • Clarke v. U.S., No. 88-5439
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • October 2, 1990
    ...named members of a plaintiff class--it has viewed the constitutional character of the decision as compelling vacatur. Kremens v. Bartley, 431 U.S. 119, 133-34 & n. 15, 97 S.Ct. 1709, 1717 & n. 15, 52 L.Ed.2d 184 (1977) (citing Justice Brandeis's concurring opinion in Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U......
  • Cordes Financial Services v. A.G. Edwards & Sons, Docket No. 06-2143-cv.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • September 11, 2007
    ...Court referred to a possible connection between standing to represent a class, Rule 23(a), and Article III standing in Kremens v. Bartley, 431 U.S. 119, 131 n. 12, 97 S.Ct. 1709, 52 L.Ed.2d 184 (1977). See also O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 494, 94 S.Ct. 669, 38 L.Ed.2d 674 (1974) ("[I......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
249 cases
  • Barley v. Riley, CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:10-CV-798-WC [WO]
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • September 11, 2013
    ...of an allegedly unconstitutional statute moots legal challenges to the legitimacy of the repealed legislation."); Kremens v. Bartley, 431 U.S. 119, 128-29 (1977) (holding moot a constitutional challenge to a state statute governing the involuntary commitment of mentally ill minors, because ......
  • NAACP v. State of Cal., Civ.No. S-79-857 MLS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • April 3, 1981
    ...an issue would benefit the general public does not, in and of itself, establish an Article III "case or controversy." Kremens v. Bartley, 431 U.S. 119, 136, 97 S.Ct. 1709, 1718, 52 L.Ed.2d 184 The concept of "standing" is an integral part of the Article III "case or controversy" requirement......
  • Clarke v. U.S., No. 88-5439
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • October 2, 1990
    ...named members of a plaintiff class--it has viewed the constitutional character of the decision as compelling vacatur. Kremens v. Bartley, 431 U.S. 119, 133-34 & n. 15, 97 S.Ct. 1709, 1717 & n. 15, 52 L.Ed.2d 184 (1977) (citing Justice Brandeis's concurring opinion in Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U......
  • Cordes Financial Services v. A.G. Edwards & Sons, Docket No. 06-2143-cv.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • September 11, 2007
    ...Court referred to a possible connection between standing to represent a class, Rule 23(a), and Article III standing in Kremens v. Bartley, 431 U.S. 119, 131 n. 12, 97 S.Ct. 1709, 52 L.Ed.2d 184 (1977). See also O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 494, 94 S.Ct. 669, 38 L.Ed.2d 674 (1974) ("[I......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • MANUFACTURING SOVEREIGN STATE MOOTNESS.
    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 63 Nbr. 1, October 2021
    • October 1, 2021
    ...at 1185-87. (38.) See DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312, 316 (1974) (per curiam). (39.) See id. at 318. (40.) But see Kremens v. Bartley, 431 U.S. 119, 134 n.15 (1977) ("The availability of thoroughly prepared attorneys to argue both sides of a constitutional question, and of numerous amici......

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