DOCKET NO.: 77-6431
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: New York Court of Appeals
CITATION: 441 US 380 (1979)
ARGUED: Nov 06, 1978
DECIDED: Apr 24, 1979
Irwin M. Strum - for the Attorney General of New York, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court
Morris Schulslaper - for appellees
Robert H. Silk - for appellant
Facts of the case
Media for Caban v. MohammedAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 06, 1978 in Caban v. Mohammed
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 24, 1979 in Caban v. Mohammed
Warren E. Burger:
The judgment and opinion of the Court in Caban against Mohammed will be announced by Mr. Justice Powell.
Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:
This case is here on appeal for the New York Court of Appeals.
At issue is the constitutionality of New York adoption statute.
Under this statute, a child may be adopted only if both of its parents consent with the adoption.
An exemption is made, however, with respect to children voluntarily whereby only the consent of the mother is required when an illegitimate child is up for adoption.
Regardless of the circumstances, is that the father has no comparable rights under New York law.
Thus, a categorical distinction is made in this respect between fathers and mothers of illegitimate children.
The parties in this case, the appellant, Caban, and appellee, Mohammed, are the parents of two children born while they were living together for several years.
Over those years, they lived together as a family and appellant contributed to the support of the children.
After the couple separated, the children continued to see their father regularly although they live with their mother.
The mother married another man.
She and her new husband then sought to adopt the two illegitimate children.
The natural father's objection to the adoption was rejected by the New York courts.
His claim that the statute deprived him of Equal Protection of the laws also was rejected.
In an opinion filed today with the clerk, we hold that the New York statute is in invalid under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
At this with respect to children as old as appellants and where an established relationship exists, the New York statute bears no substantial relation to any important state interest.
Accordingly we reversed the Court of Appeals of New York.
Mr. Justice Stewart has filed a dissenting opinion.
Mr. Justice Stevens also has filed a dissenting opinion in which the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Rehnquist have joined.
Warren E. Burger:
Thank you, Mr. Justice Powell.