McClellan v. Shapiro, Civ. No. 13267.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
Writing for the CourtHAYS, Circuit and BLUMENFELD and ZAMPANO
Citation315 F. Supp. 484
PartiesEvelyn McCLELLAN et al. v. Bernard SHAPIRO, Commissioner of Welfare, State of Connecticut. Bertha DUNDY et al. v. Bernard SHAPIRO, Commissioner of Welfare, State of Connecticut. Lula Mae STANLEY et al. v. Bernard SHAPIRO, Commissioner of Welfare, State of Connecticut.
Decision Date16 April 1970
Docket NumberCiv. No. 13267.

315 F. Supp. 484

Evelyn McCLELLAN et al.
v.
Bernard SHAPIRO, Commissioner of Welfare, State of Connecticut.

Bertha DUNDY et al.
v.
Bernard SHAPIRO, Commissioner of Welfare, State of Connecticut.

Lula Mae STANLEY et al.
v.
Bernard SHAPIRO, Commissioner of Welfare, State of Connecticut.

Civ. No. 13267.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut.

April 16, 1970.


315 F. Supp. 485
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
315 F. Supp. 486
William H. Clendenen, Jr., and David M. Lesser, New Haven, Conn., for plaintiffs

James M. Higgins, Asst. Atty. Gen., State of Connecticut, East Hartford, Conn., for defendant.

Before HAYS, Circuit Judge and BLUMENFELD and ZAMPANO, District Judges.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

BLUMENFELD, District Judge.

Plaintiffs in this class action1 are nineteen year old AFDC recipients whose welfare benefits were discontinued by Section 5 of Public Act 730, a 1969 amendment to Connecticut's state welfare statutes.2 Section 5 defines a dependent child, for purposes of AFDC eligibility,3 as follows:

"`dependent child' means a needy child under the age of nineteen, or who attains the age of nineteen while in full-time attendance in a secondary school during a school year, who has been deprived of parental support or care * * *."4

They attack the statute on two grounds: first, that it denies them the equal protection of the laws as guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution; and second, that it contravenes the federal Social Security Act. Since they have prayed for affirmative injunctive relief on a statewide basis, a three-judge district court was convened. 28 U.S.C. § 2281.

315 F. Supp. 487

Jurisdiction

Plaintiffs' first contention is that by denying welfare assistance to them when they reached the age of nineteen because they were not then in fulltime attendance at a secondary school, while granting such aid to those who were, the statute subjects them to a discrimination so invidious as to deprive them of their right to equal protection of the laws. Plaintiffs rely upon 42 U.S.C. § 19835 for a cause of action and upon its implementing counterpart 28 U.S.C. § 1343 (3)6 for jurisdiction.

These two statutes and their interrelationship have received recent and careful analysis in this circuit. See Eisen v. Eastman, 421 F.2d 560 (2d Cir. 1969); McCall v. Shapiro, 416 F.2d 246 (2d Cir. 1969). Where, as here, deprivations of constitutional rights are alleged, both sections require the same interpretation. Eisen, supra, at nn. 5 & 8.7 Accordingly, if a complaint alleging such a deprivation meets the substantive requirements of § 1983, the federal court will have jurisdiction under § 1343(3). However, "whether the complaint states a cause of action on which relief could be granted * * * must be decided after and not before the court has assumed jurisdiction over the controversy." Bell v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678, 682, 66 S.Ct. 773, 776, 90 L.Ed. 939 (1946); cf. Olson v. Board of Educ., 250 F.Supp. 1000, 1004 (E.D.N.Y.), appeal dismissed, 367 F.2d 565 (2d Cir. 1966).8

To meet the jurisdictional requirements of § 1343(3) (or the substantive requirements of § 1983) plaintiffs must allege the deprivation not of just any right, but of a "right or immunity which * * * is one of personal liberty, not dependent for its existence upon the infringement of property rights." Hague v. CIO, 307 U.S. 496, 518, 531, 59 S.Ct. 954, 971, 83 L.Ed. 1423 (1939) (opinion of Mr. Justice Stone). See Eisen, supra, 421 F.2d at 566 (adopting Mr. Justice Stone's formulation "generously construed" as the law of this circuit); McCall, supra, 416 F.2d at 250. See also, Bradford Audio Corp. v. Pious, 392 F.2d 67, 72 (2d Cir. 1968). Since "right" is a multifaceted concept which takes on different meanings for different purposes, the particular concept defined by Mr. Justice Stone is not always easy to apply. Eisen, supra, 421 F.2d at 565 and 566. Real difficulty arises in trying to fit it to claims arising under state welfare statutes such as this one. Id. at 566 n. 10. The least that can be said is that it is not settled that every claim to welfare benefits must be regarded as a right involving personal liberty in the general sense of an inalienable right which belongs to every one. See McCall, supra, 416 F.2d at 251 (concurring opinion of Judge Kaufman).

315 F. Supp. 488
Cf. Gold v. Lomenzo, 425 F.2d 959 (2d Cir. 1970) (dissenting opinion of Judge Hays). A more careful analysis of the plaintiffs' claims are thus in order

Were it not for King v. Smith, 392 U.S. 309, 88 S.Ct. 2128, 20 L.Ed.2d 1118 (1968), we would be inclined to dismiss this suit for want of jurisdiction. In that case, jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3) was accepted over a claim which, indiscriminately considered, might be said to be indistinguishable from this one. Judge Friendly has suggested that Alabama's application of its man-in-the-house rule challenged in King may have been regarded by the Supreme Court as having "infringed the plaintiffs' `liberty' to grow up with financial aid for their subsistence * * *," Eisen, supra, 421 F.2d at 564, and thus supported jurisdiction under § 1343(3). It is not impossible that it is over-stretching that concept of "personal liberty", even "generously construed" to embrace a right of a nineteen year old to obtain welfare allowances from the state for food, clothing, shelter, medical attention and child care.9 We would be loath to extend the concept of "liberty" that far to support federal jurisdiction in this case were it not that the very statute in issue, by its own terms, defines a nineteen year old who is also a student as a "dependent child"10 under some circumstances to whom AFDC benefits will be afforded.11

For the foregoing reasons we feel constrained to accept jurisdiction on the basis of the plaintiffs' constitutional claim. See also Rosado v. Wyman, 397 U.S. 397, 90 S.Ct. 1207, 25 L.Ed.2d 442 (1970), where, as in King v. Smith, the Court found, without discussion, federal jurisdiction under § 1343 over a claim for welfare benefits. Since the constitutional claim is neither insubstantial, cf. McCall v. Shapiro, 292 F.Supp. 268, 276 (D.C.Conn.1968), aff'd, 416 F.2d 246 (2d Cir. 1969), nor moot, cf. Rosado v. Wyman, supra, there is also jurisdiction over their other federal claim that Connecticut's statute is invalid because it is inconsistent with the Social Security Act. King v. Smith, supra, 392 U.S. at 312 n. 3, 88 S.Ct. 2128.

The Plaintiffs

The milieu in which Section 5 has an impact is fairly reflected by the circumstances of the several plaintiffs who have joined in this suit.

Plaintiffs represent four subclasses of nineteen year olds who are excluded by application of Section 5: (1) those who have been graduated from secondary school and are now attending college (Douglas Losty, Madeline Dundy, Jordan Langley, LeRoy Shields); (2) those who have been graduated from secondary school and are now attending a post-graduate vocational training course (Marabelle Stanley); (3) those who have attained the age of nineteen while in full-time attendance in a secondary school, but before the start of a school year (Leonard Bartel); and (4) those not now in school but who have been graduated from secondary school and would, if their AFDC benefits were restored, attend post-graduate courses, either vocational (Gail Sadler), or collegiate (Arthur Jones).12

315 F. Supp. 489

Plaintiffs claim that there is no rational basis for distinguishing all or any of them from those who are eligible under Section 5: i. e. (1) those under the age of nineteen; and (2) those who turn nineteen while in full-time attendance in a secondary school during a school year. The effect of granting them the relief they seek would of course be to reinstate them on the welfare rolls.

The Statutory Claim

Before reaching the plaintiffs' constitutional claim we are obliged first to consider and dispose of the case on the statutory ground, if possible. King v. Smith, supra at 313, 88 S.Ct. 2128. Cf. Harmon v. Brucker, 355 U.S. 579, 581, 78 S.Ct. 433, 2 L.Ed.2d 503 (1958); United States v. Minor, 398 F.2d 511, 514 (1968), aff'd, 396 U.S. 87, 90 S.Ct. 284, 24 L.Ed.2d 283 (1969).

Plaintiffs' statutory argument is that Section 5 contravenes the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 606(a). Cf. King v. Smith, supra. Individuals eligible for AFDC aid are broadly defined by § 601 of the Act as "needy dependent children and the parents or relatives with whom they are living." At issue here is the proper interpretation of § 606(a) which defines a dependent child as:

"a needy child (1) who has been deprived of parental support * * *, and (2) who is (A) under the age of eighteen, or (B) under the age of twenty-one and (as determined by the State in accordance with standards prescribed by the Secretary) a student regularly attending a school, college, or university, or regularly attending a course of vocational or technical training designed to fit him for gainful employment."

Obviously, if part (2) (B) of the quoted section is not regarded as an optional alternative to (2) (A) instead of an enlargement of it, Section 5 of Connecticut's P.A. 730 conflicts with § 606(a). The question then is whether the federal statute requires the state of Connecticut to provide AFDC benefits to the plaintiff students up to the age of twenty-one.

Because the language of the federal statute may be looked upon as not wholly free from doubt, it is appropriate to look beyond its language for further guidance in ascertaining the intent of Congress. Cf. Caminetti v. United States, 242 U.S. 470, 485, 37 S.Ct. 192, 61 L.Ed. 442 (1917).

The Senate Report accompanying the 1964 bill which provided continued AFDC eligibility for students up to the age of twenty-one explained: "The extension of the program in this manner would be optional with the States." Senate Finance Comm. S.Rep. No. 1517, 1964 U.S.Code Cong. & Adm. News (2), p. 3925. See also, Senate Finance Comm. S.Rep...

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18 practice notes
  • Wilczynski v. Harder, Civ. No. 13382.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • February 16, 1971
    ...Eisen v. Eastman, 421 F.2d 560 (2d Cir. 1969); see, e. g., Campagnuolo v. Harder, 319 F.Supp. 414 (D.Conn.1970); McClellan v. Shapiro, 315 F.Supp. 484 (D.Conn.1970) (three-judge district court), have now been resolved for the district courts in this circuit.8 In Johnson v. Harder, 438 F.2d ......
  • Hunt v. Edmunds, No. 5-70 Civ. 36.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • April 7, 1971
    ...294 F.Supp. 893 (S.D.N.Y.1968). See also King v. Smith, supra; Dullea v. Ott, 316 F.Supp. 1273 (D.Mass.1970); McClellan v. Shapiro, 315 F.Supp. 484 (D.Conn.1970); Roberge v. Philbrook, 313 F.Supp. 608 In this case, the plaintiffs allege the deprivation not of merely $140, but of constitutio......
  • Francis v. Davidson, Civ. No. 71-853-K.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • January 28, 1972
    ...§ 1337.19a Less than two years earlier, Judge Hays, concurring specially in a three-judge district court case, in McClellan v. Shapiro, 315 F.Supp. 484, 494 (D.Conn. 1970), expressed similar views in stating his disagreement with the majority's assumption of jurisdiction in a suit challengi......
  • In re Conley, Bankruptcy No. 382-00990.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Sixth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Middle District of Tennessee
    • January 26, 1983
    ...210 (2d Cir.1962); Cornelius v. Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks, 382 F.Supp. 1182, 1201 (D.Conn.1974); McClellan v. Shapiro, 315 F.Supp. 484, 487 n. 7 (D.Conn.1970). And, even assuming § 1331 did confer jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases to district courts, this grant of jurisdictio......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
18 cases
  • Wilczynski v. Harder, Civ. No. 13382.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • February 16, 1971
    ...Eisen v. Eastman, 421 F.2d 560 (2d Cir. 1969); see, e. g., Campagnuolo v. Harder, 319 F.Supp. 414 (D.Conn.1970); McClellan v. Shapiro, 315 F.Supp. 484 (D.Conn.1970) (three-judge district court), have now been resolved for the district courts in this circuit.8 In Johnson v. Harder, 438 F.2d ......
  • Hunt v. Edmunds, No. 5-70 Civ. 36.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • April 7, 1971
    ...294 F.Supp. 893 (S.D.N.Y.1968). See also King v. Smith, supra; Dullea v. Ott, 316 F.Supp. 1273 (D.Mass.1970); McClellan v. Shapiro, 315 F.Supp. 484 (D.Conn.1970); Roberge v. Philbrook, 313 F.Supp. 608 In this case, the plaintiffs allege the deprivation not of merely $140, but of constitutio......
  • Francis v. Davidson, Civ. No. 71-853-K.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • January 28, 1972
    ...§ 1337.19a Less than two years earlier, Judge Hays, concurring specially in a three-judge district court case, in McClellan v. Shapiro, 315 F.Supp. 484, 494 (D.Conn. 1970), expressed similar views in stating his disagreement with the majority's assumption of jurisdiction in a suit challengi......
  • In re Conley, Bankruptcy No. 382-00990.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Sixth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Middle District of Tennessee
    • January 26, 1983
    ...210 (2d Cir.1962); Cornelius v. Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks, 382 F.Supp. 1182, 1201 (D.Conn.1974); McClellan v. Shapiro, 315 F.Supp. 484, 487 n. 7 (D.Conn.1970). And, even assuming § 1331 did confer jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases to district courts, this grant of jurisdictio......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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