Kahn v. Shevin

PETITIONER: Mel Kahn, etc.
RESPONDENT: Robert L. Shevin, et al.
LOCATION: Dade County Circuit Court

DOCKET NO.: 73-78
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: Florida Supreme Court

CITATION: 416 US 351 (1974)
ARGUED: Feb 25, 1974 / Feb 26, 1974
DECIDED: Apr 24, 1974

ADVOCATES:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg - for appellant
Sydney H. McKenzie, III - argued the cause for the appellee

Facts of the case

Since 1941, Florida has granted a $500 property tax exemption for widows but no similar exemption for widowers. Widower Mel Kahn applied to the Dade County Tax Assessor’s Office for the property tax exemption, which was denied. He sued in circuit court and sought a declaratory judgment. The circuit court held that the statute was gender-based and therefore violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Florida Supreme Court reversed and held that the gender classification had a “fair and substantial relation” to the purpose of the legislation.

Question

Does the Florida statute that only provides property tax exemptions to widows violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Media for Kahn v. Shevin

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 26, 1974 in Kahn v. Shevin
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 25, 1974 in Kahn v. Shevin

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 24, 1974 in Kahn v. Shevin

William O. Douglas:

I have number 73-78, Kahn versus Shevin here on certiorari to the Supreme Court of Florida.

Florida has a statute that grants windows an annual $500 property tax exemption, but it does not extend that exemption to widowers and the appellant is a widower who brought the suit asking for a declaratory judgment and from the Florida Court saying that the statute violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Court held contrary to the claim of the widower and we affirm that judgment finding no invidious discrimination.

Mr. Justice Brennan has filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Marshall has joined and Mr. Justice White has filed a dissenting opinion.