Kahn v. Shevin
416 U.S. 351 (1974)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Kahn v. Shevin, 416 U.S. 351 (1974)

Kahn v. Shevin

No. 73-78

Argued February 25-26, 1974

Decided April 24, 1974

416 U.S. 351

Syllabus

A Florida statute grants widows an annual $500 property tax exemption. Appellant, a widower, was denied an exemption because the statute offers no analogous benefit for widowers. He then sought a declaratory judgment in county Circuit Court, which held the statute violative of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Florida Supreme Court reversed, finding the classification "widow" valid because it has a "fair and substantial relation to the object of the legislation" of reducing "the disparity between the economic capabilities of a man and a woman."

Held:

1. The challenged tax law is reasonably designed to further the state policy of cushioning the financial impact of spousal loss upon the sex for whom that loss imposes a disproportionately heavy burden. Frontiero v. Richardson,411 U. S. 677, distinguished. P. 416 U. S. 355.

2. A state tax law is not arbitrary although it "discriminate[s] in favor of a certain class . . . if the discrimination is founded upon a reasonable distinction, or difference in state policy," and the statute here is well within those limits. Pp. 416 U. S. 355-356.

273 So.2d 72, affirmed.

DOUGLAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 416 U. S. 357. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 416 U. S. 360.

Page 416 U. S. 352

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