Jefferson v. Hackney

LOCATION: Tennessee Governor's Office

DOCKET NO.: 70-5064
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)

CITATION: 406 US 535 (1972)
ARGUED: Feb 22, 1972
DECIDED: May 30, 1972

Pat Bailey - for appellees
Steven J. Cole - for appellants

Facts of the case


Media for Jefferson v. Hackney

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 22, 1972 in Jefferson v. Hackney

Warren E. Burger:

70-5064 Jefferson against Hackney.

Mr. Cole you may proceed whenever you’re ready.

Steven J. Cole:

Thank you.

Mr. Chief Justice Burger and may it please the Court.

With the Court’s permission I would like to save five minutes of my time for rebuttal.

Warren E. Burger:

Very well.

Steven J. Cole:

The State of Texas provides public assistance to four groups of its needy residence and receives over 350 million dollars a year from United States for this purpose.

The four groups are the children deprived of parental care and support because of the absence, death, or incapacity of the parent.

Persons over age 65, the disabled and the blind, these are the persons both Congress and the State of Texas have identified as needing financial assistance because they do not have a breadwinner in the household.

Texas has established the welfare program covering all four groups in its Public Welfare Act of 1941 pursuant to a single provision of the Texas Constitution.

There are two separate issues presented by this appeal.

The first is whether the Equal Protection Clause and Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act permits Texas to pay AFDC recipients eight-ninths of whom are black and Mexican-American, 50% of the amount Texas has determined to be their minimum required needs while it pays all other welfare recipients, those receiving aid under the old age, aid to the blind and aid to the disabled programs, three-fifths of whom are white 95% or a 100% of the same minimum needs.

The statutory issue presented today is whether Texas may consistent with the Social Security Act as construed by this Court in Rosado versus Wyman determine eligibility for AFDC and the amount of AFDC payments by subtracting outside income from 50% of the standard of need rather than from the standard of need itself.

Both issues must be decided by the Court since a victory on either one to the appellants will still leave the other in dispute.

The starting point for understanding both issues is the standard of need.

This has been referred to by the Court in Rosado with the yardstick to determining who is eligible for public assistance.

The standard is a dollar amount which represents the state’s judgment as to what is necessary to provide a subsistence level living in that particular state.

In Texas, the items included in the standard or personal needs which include food, clothing, and personal incidentals shelter cause and a few special need items.

Texas uses a single standard for all welfare recipients in the state regardless of the category under which the recipient receives as assistance.

In other words, children under the AFDC have the same standard of need as blind adults or disabled adults or people over 65?

Steven J. Cole:

No, that’s not exactly right, Your Honor.

What happens is Texas has a standard budgetary allowance.

So for example shelter needs are budgeted according to the household size and not according to the category.

Similarly, personal needs are budgeted according to age.

Adults in the ADC Program, the caretaker, the mother caring for children receive the same budget and needs not receive but are budgeted for the same needs as adults in the Aid to the Blind Program or Old Age Assistance program.

Children, the dependents of an old age recipient or dependents of an ADC mother are budgeted for the same amount in each program.

Texas has made a judgment and we do not challenge it in this case.

The children require less per month than an adult to supply the same minimum needs.

But we have not challenged that in this lawsuit.

An example of how this work is at page 41 and 42 of our brief that might be helpful if I refer to that.