Green v. Mansour
Annotate this Case
474 U.S. 64 (1985)
U.S. Supreme Court
Green v. Mansour, 474 U.S. 64 (1985)
Green v. Mansour
Argued October 7, 1985
Decided December 3, 1985
474 U.S. 64
Petitioner recipients of benefits under the federal Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) program brought class actions in Federal District Court against respondent Director of the Michigan Department of Social Services. They claimed that respondent's policies of prohibiting the deduction of child care costs and requiring the inclusion of stepparents' income for purposes of calculating earned income, thereby determining eligibility for and the amount of AFDC benefits, violated applicable federal law. Petitioners sought an injunction, a declaratory judgment, and "notice relief." While the actions were pending, Congress amended the relevant federal statute to expressly require States to deduct child care expenses and to include stepparents' income. Granting respondent's motions to dismiss in each case, the District Court held that the changes in federal law rendered moot the claims for prospective relief, that the remaining claims for declaratory and "notice relief " related solely to past violations of federal law, and that such retrospective relief was barred by the Eleventh Amendment. The Court of Appeals affirmed in a consolidated appeal.
1. Petitioners are not entitled to "notice relief." Since there is no continuing violation of federal law to enjoin, and therefore no valid injunction to which notice could attach, the notice cannot be justified as a mere case-management device that is ancillary to a judgment awarding valid prospective relief. Quern v. Jordan, 440 U. S. 332, distinguished. Absent these conditions, the Eleventh Amendment limitation on the Art. III power of federal courts prevents them from ordering "notice relief" against States, because it is not the type of remedy designed to prevent ongoing violations of supreme federal law. Pp. 474 U. S. 68-72.
2. Nor are petitioners entitled to a declaratory judgment that respondent violated federal law in the past. Where there is no claimed continuing violation of federal law or any threat of future violation, a declaratory judgment is inappropriate, because its purpose could only be to provide a federal judgment on the issue of liability with the hope that it would be res judicata in state court proceedings, leaving to the state courts only a form of accounting proceeding whereby damages or restitution
would be computed. This would be an inappropriate exercise of federal judicial power, because it would have much the same effect as an award of damages or restitution, which kinds of relief against States are prohibited by the Eleventh Amendment. Pp. 474 U. S. 72-73.
742 F.2d 277, affirmed.
REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, POWELL, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 474 U. S. 74. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 474 U. S. 79. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 474 U. S. 81.
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