Van Lare v. Hurley
421 U.S. 338 (1975)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Van Lare v. Hurley, 421 U.S. 338 (1975)

Van Lare v. Hurley

No. 74-453

Argued March 26, 1975

Decided May 19, 1975*

421 U.S. 338

Syllabus

Petitioners in No. 74-5054 brought class actions in two District Courts challenging New York's "lodger" regulations, which require a pro-rata reduction in shelter allowance of a family receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) solely because a parent allows a nonlegally responsible person to reside in the home. Petitioners claimed that the state regulations conflicted with a provision of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 606(a), which, in relevant part, defines a dependent child as one

"who has been deprived of parental support or care by reason of the death, continued absence from the home, or physical or mental incapacity of a parent,"

and an implementing regulation, 45 CFR § 233.90(a), which provides that, in determining a child's financial eligibility and the amount of the assistance payment "the income only of the [legally obligated] parent . . . will be considered available . . . in the absence of proof of actual contributions." Petitioners also contended that the state regulations were violative of due process and equal protection. Each District Court held that the New York regulations were in conflict with the federal statutory and regulatory provisions. The Court of Appeals held that there was no such conflict, and reversed the judgments and remanded the cases for convention of a three-judge court to decide the constitutional challenges. That court sustained petitioners' due process claim. This Court noted probable jurisdiction of the appeal from the three-judge court holding (No. 74-453), and granted certiorari in the case of the judgment of the Court of Appeals (No. 74-5054).

Held: The New York "lodger" regulations, which are based on the assumption that the nonpaying lodger is contributing to the welfare of the household, without inquiry into whether he, in fact, does

Page 421 U. S. 339

so, violate the Social Security Act and implementing regulations. Pp. 421 U. S. 344-348.

(a) A State is barred from assuming that nonlegally responsible persons will apply their resources to aid the welfare child, King v. Smith,392 U. S. 309; Lewis v. Martin,397 U. S. 552, yet under the New York regulations, the nonpaying lodger's mere presence results in a decrease in benefits though he may contribute nothing to the needy child. Pp. 421 U. S. 346-347.

(b) The New York regulations cannot be justified on the ground that the lodger's presence establishes the existence of excess space, because, if that were so, the allowance would remain reduced after the lodger leaves, which is not the case. P. 421 U. S. 347.

(c) The regulations do not prohibit lodgers from living in welfare homes, and therefore cannot be justified on the ground that they are designed to prevent lodgers (who are ineligible for welfare) from receiving welfare benefits. Pp. 421 U. S. 347-348.

No. 7453, 380 F.Supp. 167, vacated and remanded; No. 74-5054, 497 F.2d 1208, reversed.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and DOUGLAS, STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 421 U. S. 348.

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