Jefferson v. Hackney
406 U.S. 535 (1972)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Jefferson v. Hackney, 406 U.S. 535 (1972)

Jefferson v. Hackney

No. 70-5064

Argued February 22, 1972

Decided May 30, 1972

406 U.S. 535

Syllabus

Appellants, recipients of Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC), challenge the system whereby Texas, in order to allocate its fixed pool of welfare money among persons with acknowledged need, applies a percentage reduction factor to arrive at a reduced standard of need, the factor being lower for AFDC than for other categorical assistance programs. Appellants assert that the State's method of applying this factor to recipients with outside income contravenes § 402(a)(23) of the Social Security Act, which required adjustment, by July 1, 1969, of "amounts used . . . to determine the needs of individuals" to reflect increases in living costs, because this method does not increase the welfare rolls to the same extent as would an alternative procedure used by some other States. They also make an equal protection claim on the grounds that the distinction between the aid programs is not rational, and that the Texas system racially discriminates against the proportionately larger number of minority groups in AFDC than in the other programs.

Held:

1. The Texas scheme does not contravene § 402(a)(23) of the Social Security Act, which does not require use of a computation procedure that maximizes individual eligibility for subsidiary benefits. Pp. 406 U. S. 539-545.

2. The challenged system does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 406 U. S. 545-551.

(a) The fact that there are more members of minority groups in the AFDC program than in other categories does not indicate racial discrimination, absent any proof of racial motivation in the Texas scheme. There was no such proof here. Pp. 406 U. S. 547-549.

(b) Texas' decision to provide somewhat lower welfare benefits for AFDC recipients than for the aged and infirm who are in other categories is not invidious or irrational, and there is no constitutional or statutory requirement that relief categories be treated exactly alike. Pp. 406 U. S. 549-551.

Affirmed.

Page 406 U. S. 536

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. STEWART, J., filed a statement joining in Part III of the Court's opinion, post, p. 406 U. S. 551. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p. 406 U. S. 551. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, and in Part I of which STEWART, J., joined, post, p. 406 U. S. 558.

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