Labine v. Vincent - 401 U.S. 532 (1971)


U.S. Supreme Court

Labine v. Vincent, 401 U.S. 532 (1971)

Labine v. Vincent

No. 5257

Argued January 19, 1971

Decided March 29, 1971

401 U.S. 532

Syllabus

Ezra Vincent died intestate, survived by only collateral relations and an illegitimate daughter, whose guardian (appellant) sued to have her declared Vincent's sole heir. The trial court ruled that, under Louisiana law, the collateral relations took the decedent's property to the exclusion of the daughter, who had been acknowledged by her father but not legitimated. The Louisiana Court of Appeal affirmed. The State Supreme Court denied certiorari. Appellant, relying on Levy v. Louisiana, 391 U. S. 68, contends that Louisiana's intestate succession laws that bar an illegitimate child from sharing equally with legitimate children in the father's estate constitute an invidious discrimination violative of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution.

Held: The Louisiana statutory intestate succession scheme is within the State's power to establish rules for the protection and strengthening of family life and for the disposition of property, and, in view of various statutory alternatives, none of which was chosen by Vincent, did not (unlike the situation in Levy) constitute an insurmountable barrier to illegitimate children. Pp. 401 U. S. 535-540.

255 La. 480, 231 So.2d 395, affirmed. See: 229 So.2d 449.

BLACK, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and HARLAN, STEWART, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. HARLAN, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 401 U. S. 540. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which DOUGLAS, WHITE, and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 401 U. S. 541.

Page 401 U. S. 533



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