Glona v. American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Company

RESPONDENT: American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Company

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 391 US 73 (1968)
ARGUED: Mar 27, 1968 / Mar 28, 1968
DECIDED: May 20, 1968

Facts of the case


Media for Glona v. American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 27, 1968 in Glona v. American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 28, 1968 in Glona v. American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Company

Earl Warren:

Number 639, Minnie Brade Glona, Petitioner, versus American Guarantee of Liability Insurance Company, et al.

Mr. Normann, I think you were conducting your argument, were you not?

You may proceed now.

David R. Normann:

May it please the Court.

Subsequent to yesterday's adjournment, I realized that while in our case and in the previous case, we have been discussing Article 2315 of the Louisiana Civil Code which is our Tort Law and provides for our wrongful death statute that we had not as yet read it to the Court and I think it might be helpful, it's not very long, if I read it.

It provides as follows; every act whatever of man that causes damage to another obliges him by whose fault it happened to repair it.

The right to recover damages to property caused by an offense or quasi-offense is a property right which on the death of the obligees inherited by his legal instituted or irregular as subject to the community rights of the surviving spouse.

The right to recover all other damages caused by an offense or quasi-offense, if the injured person dies, shall survive for a period of one year from the death of the deceased in favor of one, the surviving spouse and child or children of the deceased or either such spouse or such child or children; Two, the surviving father and mother of the deceased or either of them if he left no spouse or child surviving; And three, the surviving brothers and sisters of the deceased or any of them if he left no spouse child or parents survived.

The survivors in whose favor this right of action survives may also recover for damages which they sustained through the wrongful death of the deceased.

A right to recover damages under the provisions of this paragraph is a property right which on the death of the survivor in whose favor the right of action survive is inherited by his legal instituted or irregular as whether suit has been instituted thereon by the survivor or not.

As used in this Article, the words “child, brother, sister, father, and mother” include a child, brother, sister, father and mother by adoption respectively.

As I say, that is the basis for all Louisiana Tort Law as well as our wrongful death statute.

I feel satisfied that the Court recognizes that this case does not in any way involved the racial issue notwithstanding the fact that it was mentioned in my opponent's brief.

Consequently, it seems that the question with which the Court is presented is this, has Louisiana in classifying legitimates and illegitimates acted reasonably and in accord with the -- a legitimate purpose of its statutes so as not to offend the Fourteenth Amendment.

First, I submit of course that we have acted reasonably for these four reasons.

One, Louisiana has exercised its legal right to legislate in areas which affect the health, morals and general welfare of its citizens.

Two, most certainly the state has an interest in maintaining the sanctity of legitimate relationships as produced through lawful marriage.

Third, Louisiana exercises its right to legislate so as to preserve the family unit.

And fourth, Louisiana has enacted specific and very liberal legislation to permit the legitimation of illegitimates.

Thereby conferring on them all rights enjoyed by legitimates.Discussing this briefly in the order mentioned that is first, the right to legislate in areas affecting health, morals and general welfare.

This Court has recognized in sanction the right of a state to enact such laws including the right to legislate of the area of sexual conduct.

It was so stated in McLaughlin versus State of Florida.

The Federal Government in all of the states had exercised a right.

Hence, the Department of Public Welfare of United States Government and the ordinance is the smallest township regulating and seeking to control such things as tuberculosis, venereal decease.

All operate in the same area and all of these we submit are entirely constitutional.

The criminal statutes punishing illicit and unnatural sexual conduct are also proper examples.

The sanctity of maintaining legitimate relationships through lawful marriage while bearing from State to State, every State in the union exercises his right.

And I don't believe anyone would seriously question the right or indeed the duty of the State to do so.Legislation designed to preserve a family unit.

Perhaps this Court's holding in the case of Murphy versus Ramsey, states it most delinquently.

The Court held certainly no legislation can be supposed more wholesome and necessary in the founding of a free, self-governing commonwealth, and that would seeks to establish it on the basis of the idea of the family has consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy state of matrimony, the sure foundation of all that it is stable and noble in our civilization; and finally, the legislation by the State of Louisiana to allow the legitimation of illegitimates.