Rivera v. Dunn, Civ. No. 14517.

Decision Date29 July 1971
Docket NumberCiv. No. 14517.
Citation329 F. Supp. 554
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
PartiesMinerva RIVERA, individually and on behalf of her minor children and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. Daniel DUNN, Director of Welfare, City of New Haven, and Henry C. White, Commissioner of Welfare, State of Connecticut, Defendants.

David M. Lesser, William H. Clendenen, Jr., Stuart Bear, New Haven, Conn., for plaintiffs; John M. Creane, Bridgeport, Conn., of counsel for intervening plaintiffs.

James M. Higgins, Asst. Atty. Gen., Francis J. MacGregor, Asst. Atty. Gen., East Hartford, Conn. (Thomas F. Keyes, Jr., Stephen G. Friedler, New Haven Conn., of counsel), for defendants.

Before SMITH, Circuit Judge, and CLARIE and ZAMPANO, District Judges.


J. JOSEPH SMITH, Circuit Judge:

This action was brought in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut seeking a declaratory judgment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201, 2202 striking down as unconstitutional a statute recently enacted by the legislature of Connecticut requiring persons receiving public assistance to have been residents of the state for at least one year.1 The plaintiffs also seek a permanent injunction against the statute's enforcement and the payment of funds unconstitutionally withheld.

On July 16, 1971 a temporary restraining order was entered by the district court enjoining the continued enforcement of the statute. This three-judge court was then convened by the Chief Judge of this circuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2281 and 2284. The plaintiffs have moved that this action proceed as a class action in accordance with Rule 23(a), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, with the plaintiffs representing a class composed of all persons eligible for the receipt of public assistance except for their failure to meet the one-year residency requirement. The defendants have concurred in this motion, and the court therefore designates this as an appropriate class.

The members of this court are not unfamiliar with the issues raised by this case since two of its present members sat on the three-judge district court which invalidated a Connecticut statute virtually identical with that at issue here. Thompson v. Shapiro, 270 F. Supp. 331 (D.Conn.1967) The decision of that court was, of course, affirmed by the Supreme Court in Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 89 S.Ct. 1322, 22 L. Ed.2d 600 (1968), and Mr. Justice Brennan's opinion for the Court in that case is dispositive here.

The Court based its opinion in Shapiro squarely on the previously established right of citizens of the United States to travel between the several states "uninhibited by statutes, rules, or regulations which unreasonably burden or restrict this movement."2 The Court reviewed the long line of cases which established this right beginning with the Passenger Cases, Smith v. Turner, Norris v. Boston 7 How. 283, 492, 12 L.Ed. 702 (1849), and quoted with approval Mr. Justice Stewart's statement for the Court in United States v. Guest, 383 U. S. 745, 757-758, 86 S.Ct. 1170, 1178, 16 L.Ed.2d 239 (1966):

The constitutional right to travel from one State to another * * * occupies a position fundamental to the concept of our Federal Union. It is a right that has been firmly established and repeatedly recognized. * * * That right finds no explicit mention in the Constitution. The reason, it has been suggested, is that a right so elementary was conceived from the beginning to be a necessary concomitant of the stronger Union the Constitution created. In any event, freedom to travel throughout the United States has long been recognized as a basic right under the Constitution.

Since the Court found that the residency requirement acted to impede a "fundamental" right, its constitutionality would not be measured by the "rational connection" test usually employed for equal protection purposes. As the Court pointed out, the waiting period requirement based on classification by length of residence, touching as it does on a fundamental right of interstate movement, clearly violates the Equal Protection Clause of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment.3

The waiting-period provision denies welfare benefits to otherwise eligible applicants solely because they have recently moved into the jurisdiction. But in moving from State to State or to the District of Columbia appellees were exercising a constitutional right, and any classification which serves to penalize that right, unless shown to promote a compelling governmental interest, is unconstitutional. 394 U.S. at 634, 89 S.Ct. at 1331 (emphasis in original)

Whether reduction in benefits to all may result from furnishing aid to all, or whether the state can or should raise additional funds, or cut the level of assistance still further are questions for the governor and legislature. The state cannot, however, ignore the Constitution and the Supreme Court's decision in Shapiro v. Thompson, and alleviate its problems by an arbitrary discrimination against some of its people resident in the state by classification on the basis of length of residence.

Since the Court decided Shapiro, the lower courts have uniformly struck down all manner of attempts to establish durational residency requirements for state and local welfare.4 Only recently the Supreme Court in Graham v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 365, 91 S.Ct. 1848, 29 L. Ed.2d 534 (1971), (June 14, 1971) (Blackmun, J.) reaffirmed its continued adherence to the principles set forth in Shapiro in invalidating statutes which conditioned an alien's welfare eligibility upon his length of residence in this country.

Since an alien as well as a citizen is a "person" for equal protection purposes, a concern for fiscal integrity is no more compelling a justification for the questioned classification in these cases than it was in Shapiro.

The State of Connecticut attempts to argue, however, that there now exists a sufficiently compelling state interest to justify the minimum residency requirement in spite of its effect on constitutionally protected rights. The statute includes a long preamble which is here set forth in the margin in which the legislature explained why it felt such a compelling interest to exist.5


It appears from the testimony that applications for public assistance are made initially to local welfare departments, which may grant general assistance pending action on applications for state assistance in the categories eligible for such assistance. The state reimburses the local government for 90% of aid furnished.

Testimony based on a pre-audit of the records of welfare departments of the 8 towns of the 169 towns of the state which account for 82% of the welfare cases in the state was to the effect that approximately 17.6% of recent applicants had resided in the state less than one year. The pre-audit report itself was not produced, its makers were not subject to examination, and its weight is questionable. No showing was made that the percentage of recipients of aid would include any such percentage if the residency requirement were removed. Their reasons for coming to the state, whether to seek or accept employment, to be near relatives or friends, or to seek public relief or better accommodations were not developed. No showing was made by the state as to the effect of reverse migration, that is, the number or percentage of persons assisted who leave the rolls because of removal of residence to another state or commonwealth, claimed by plaintiffs to be of the order of 25% of discontinuances. Of course, a rise in relief case loads was testified to by the New Haven and Waterbury officials. This indicates that new cases, whether from increase in unemployment, disability, immigration or other causes, exceeds the number of discontinuances. But even if the pre-audit testimony be taken in the most favorable light to the state, it is insufficient.

The legislature, at the urging of the present Welfare Commissioner, followed the lead and essentially adopted the language of the New York legislature in attempting to justify the one-year residence requirement. The legislature also ended the open-end budget for welfare, budgeting specific amounts with a limited power in the Commissioner to lower or raise the level of aid to those on public assistance. We are told that if the one-year residency is found invalid, it will be necessary for the Commissioner to reduce the level of aid for all. In addition, an overall 11½% cut in budgeted expenditures apparently by executive order of the governor, will require an additional reduction in welfare expenditures. It is, of course, quite true as the legislature noted that the demands on state and local governments are increasing at a substantial rate while the financial resources available to meet these needs have failed to keep pace.6 The Supreme Court, however, has made it quite clear that conservation of the public fisc is not a sufficient ground to authorize a residency statute which also has the effect of limiting the right of certain citizens to travel freely throughout the United States.

We recognize that a State has a valid interest in preserving the fiscal integrity of its programs. It may legitimately attempt to limit its expenditures, whether for public assistance, public education, or any other program. But a State may not accomplish such a purpose by invidious distinctions between classes of its citizens. It could not, for example, reduce expenditures for education by barring indigent children from its schools. Similarly, in the cases before us, appellants must do more than show that denying welfare benefits to new residents saves money. The saving of welfare costs cannot justify an otherwise invidious classification. Shapiro v. Thompson, supra, at 633, 89 S. Ct. at 1330.

The attempt to throw up state fences to bar movement of people grows from an understandable fear of...

To continue reading

Request your trial
7 cases
  • Memorial Hospital v. Maricopa County 8212 847
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • February 26, 1974
    ...which, in effect, severely penalizes exercise of the right to freely migrate and settle in another State. See Rivera v. Dunn, 329 F.Supp. 554 (D.C.Conn.1971), aff'd, 404 U.S. 1054, 92 S.Ct. 742, 30 L.Ed.2d 743 Second, to the extent the purpose of the requirement is to inhibit the immigratio......
  • Serritella v. Engelman
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Jersey
    • February 24, 1972
    ...before us must reflect a consideration of the economic impact of Reg. 205.10 on the state see Shapiro v. Thompson, supra; Rivera v. Dunn, 329 F.Supp. 554 (D.Conn.1971), aff'd mem. 404 U.S. 1054, 92 S.Ct. 742, 30 L.Ed.2d 743 (U.S. Jan. 24, 1972), we are not persuaded that New Jersey cannot r......
  • Doe v. Gillman, 72-1605.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
    • June 6, 1973
    ...66 (1972); Grubb v. Sterrett, 315 F.Supp. 990 (N.D.Ind.1970), aff'd, 400 U.S. 922, 91 S.Ct. 187, 27 L.Ed.2d 182; cf. Rivera v. Dunn, 329 F.Supp. 554 (D.Conn. 1971), aff'd, 404 U.S. 1054, 92 S.Ct. 742, 30 L.Ed.2d 743 (1972). The issue of retroactive relief has definitely been raised before t......
  • Besaw v. Affleck, Civ. A. No. 4684.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Rhode Island
    • November 11, 1971
    ...on the fundamental right to travel as enunciated in Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 89 S.Ct. 1322, 22 L.Ed.2d 600. Rivera v. Dunn, 329 F.Supp. 554 (D.Conn. 1971). This legislation attempts to create two classes of needy residents, which are "indistinguishable from each other except that ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Federalism and Freedom
    • United States
    • Sage ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, The No. 574-1, March 2001
    • March 1, 2001
    ...1997); Cyberspace Com- 483 (W.D.N.Y. 1971), aff’d, 404 U.S. 1055 munications, Inc. v. Engler, 55 F. Supp. 3d 737 (1972); Rivera v. Dunn, 329 F. Supp. 554 (D. (E.D. Mich 1999). Cf. Consoidated Cigar Corp. Conn. 1971), affd, 404 U.S. 1054 (1972). v. Reilly, 218 F3d 30 (1st Cir. 2000). For an ......

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