Shapiro v. Thompson Washington v. Legrant Reynolds v. Smith 34, s. 9

Citation22 L.Ed.2d 600,394 U.S. 618,89 S.Ct. 1322
Decision Date21 April 1969
Docket NumberNos. 9,33,s. 9
PartiesBernard SHAPIRO, Commissioner of Welfare of the State of Connecticut, Appellant, v. Vivian THOMPSON. Walter E. WASHINGTON et al., Appellants, v. Clay Mae LEGRANT et al. Roger A. REYNOLDS et al., Appellants, v. Juanita SMITH et al. , and 34. Re
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

[Syllabus from pages 618-620 intentionally omitted] Francis J. MacGregor, Fairfield, Conn., Richard W. Barton, Washington, D.C., and William C. Sennett, Harrisburg, Pa., for appellants.

Archibald Cox, Washington, D.C., for appellees.

Lorna L. Williams, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Des Moines, Iowa, for State or Iowa, as amicus curiae.

[The balance of this page intentionally left blank] Mr. Justice BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

These three appeals were restored to the calendar for reargument. 392 U.S. 920, 88 S.Ct. 2272, 20 L.Ed.2d 1381 (1968). Each is an appeal from a decision of a three-judge District Court holding unconstitutional a State or District of Columbia statutory provision which denies welfare assistance to residents of the State or District who have not resided within their jurisdictions for at least one year immediately preceding their applications for such assistance. 1 We affirm the judgments of the District Courts in the three cases.


In No. 9, the Connecticut Welfare Department invoked § 17—2d of the Connecticut General Statutes2 to deny the application of appellee Vivian Marie Thompson for assistance under the program for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). She was a 19-year-old unwed mother of one child and pregnant with her second child when she changed her residence in June 1966 from Dorchester, Massachusetts, to Hartford, Connecticut, to live with her mother, a Hartford resident. She moved to her own apartment in Hartford in August 1966, when her mother was no longer able to support her and her infant son. Because of her pregnancy, she was unable to work or enter a work training program. Her application for AFDC assistance, filed in August, was denied in November solely on the ground that, as required by § 17—2d, she had not lived in the State for a year before her application was filed. She brought this action in the District Court for the District of Connecticut where a three-judge court, one judge dissenting, declared § 17—2d unconstitutional. 270 F.Supp. 331 (1967). The majority held that the waiting-period requirement is unconstitutional because it 'has a chilling effect on the right to travel.' Id., at 336. The majority also held that the provision was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because the denial of relief to those resident in the State for less than a year is not based on any permissible purpose but is solely designed as 'Connecticut states quite frankly,' 'to protect its fisc by discouraging entry of those who come needing relief.' Id., at 336—337. We noted probable jurisdiction. 389 U.S. 1032, 88 S.Ct. 784, 19 L.Ed.2d 820 (1968).

In No. 33, there are four appellees. Three of them—appellees Harrell, Brown, and Legrant—applied for and were denied AFDC aid. The fourth, appellee Barley, applied for and was denied benefits under the program for Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled. The denial in each case was on the ground that the applicant had not resided in the District of Columbia for one year immediately preceding the filing of her application, as required by § 3—203 of the District of Columbia Code.3

Appellee Minnie Harrell, now deceased, had moved with her three children from New York to Washington in September 1966. She suffered from cancer and moved to be near members of her family who lived in Washington.

Appellee Barley, a former resident of the District of Columbia, returned to the District in March 1941 and was committed a month later to St. Elizabeths Hospital as mentally ill. She has remained in that hospital ever since. She was deemed eligible for release in 1965, and a plan was made to transfer her from the hospital to a foster home. The plan depended, however, upon Mrs. Barley's obtaining welfare assistance for her support. Her application for assistance under the program for Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled was denied because her time spent in the hospital did not count in determining compliance with the one-year requirement.

Appellee Brown lived with her mother and two of her three children in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Her third child was living with appellee Brown's father in the District of Columbia. When her mother moved from Fort Smith of Oklahoma, appellee Brown, in February 1966, returned to the District of Columbia where she lived as a child. Her application for AFDC assistance was approved insofar as it sought assistance for the child who had lived in the District with her father but was denied to the extent it sought assistance for the two other children.

Appellee Legrant moved with her two children from South Carolina to the District of Columbia in March 1967 after the death of her mother. She planned to live with a sister and brother in Washington. She was pregnant and in ill health when she applied for and was denied AFDC assistance in July 1967.

The several cases were consolidated for trial, and a three-judge District Court was convened.4 The court, one judge dissenting, held § 3—203 unconstitutional. 279 F.Supp. 22 (1967). The majority rested its decision on the ground that the one-year requirement was unconstitutional as a denial of the right to equal protection secured by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. We noted probable jurisdiction. Washington v. Harrell, 390 U.S. 940, 88 S.Ct. 1053, 19 L.Ed.2d 1129 (1968).

In No. 34, there are two appellees, Smith and Foster, who were denied AFDC aid on the sole ground that they had not been residents of Pennsylvania for a year prior to their applications as required by § 432(6) of the Pennsyl- vania Welfare Code. 5Appellee Smith and her five minor children moved in December 1966 from Delaware to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where her father lived. Her father supported her and her children for several months until he lost his job. Appellee then applied for AFDC assistance and had received two checks when the aid was terminated. Appellee Foster, after living in Pennsylvania from 1953 to 1965, had moved with her four children to South Carolina to care for h r grandfather and invalid grandmother and had returned to Pennsylvania in 1967. A three-judge District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, one judge dissenting, declared § 432(6) unconstitutional. 277 F.Supp. 65 (1967). The majority held that the classification established by the waiting-period requirement is 'without rational basis and without legitimate purpose or function' and therefore a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Id., at 67. The majority noted further that if the purpose of the statute was 'to erect a barrier against the movement of indigent persons into the State or to effect their prompt departure after they have gotten there,' it would be 'patently improper and its implementation plainly impermissible.' Id., at 67—68. We noted probable jurisdiction. 390 U.S. 940, 88 S.Ct. 1054, 19 L.Ed.2d 1129 (1968).


There is no dispute that the effect of the waiting-period requirement in each case is to create two classes of needy resident families indistinguishable from each other except that one is composed of residents who have resided a year or more, and the second of residents who have resided less than a year, in the jurisdiction. On the basis of this sole difference the first class is granted and the second class is denied welfare aid upon which may depend the ability of the families to obtain the very means to subsist—food, shelter, and other necessities of life. In each case, the District Court found that appellees met the test for residence in their jurisdictions, as well as all other eligibility requirements except the requirement of residence for a full year prior to their applications. On reargument, appellees' central contention is that the statutory prohibition of benefits to residents of less than a year creates a classification which constitutes an invidious discrimination denying them equal protection of the laws.6 We agree. The interests which appellants assert are promoted by the classification either may not constitutionally be promoted by government or are not compelling governmental interests.


Primarily, appellants justify the waiting-period requirement as a protective device to preserve the fiscal integrity of state public assistance programs. It is asserted that people who require welfare assistance during their first year of residence in a State are likely to become continuing burdens on state welfare programs. Therefore, the argument runs, if such people can be deterred from entering the jurisdiction by denying them welfare benefits during the first year, state programs to assist long-time residents will not be impaired by a ubstantial influx of indigent newcomers.7

There is weighty evidence that exclusion from the jurisdiction of the poor who need or may need relief was the specific objective of these provisions. In the Congress, sponsors of federal legislation to eliminate all residence requirements have been consistently opposed by representatives of state and local welfare agencies who have stressed the fears of the States that elimination of the requirements would result in a heavy influx of individuals into States providing the most generous benefits. See, e.g., Hearings on H.R. 10032 before the House Committee on Ways and Means, 87th Cong., 2d Sess., 309—310, 644 (1962); Hearings on H.R. 6000 before the Senate Committee on Finance, 81st Cong 2d Sess., 324—327 (1950). The sponsor of the Connecticut requirement said in its support: 'I doubt that Connecticut can and should continue to allow unlimited migration into the state on the basis of...

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