King v. Smith

LOCATION: Connecticut Welfare Department

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)

CITATION: 392 US 309 (1968)
ARGUED: Apr 23, 1968
DECIDED: Jun 17, 1968

Facts of the case


Media for King v. Smith

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 23, 1968 in King v. Smith

Earl Warren:

Number 949, Reuben K. King, Commissioner of the State Department of Pensions and Security of Alabama et al.

Appellants versus Sylvester Smith, individually on behalf of her minor children et al.

Mrs. Stapp, you may proceed with your argument.

Mary Lee Stapp:

May it please the Court and Mr. Chief Justice in this honorable Court.

I represent the appellants, Mr. Reuben K. King and the State Board of Pensions and Security which is the host in making Single State Agency in the Department of Alabama responsible for the title for of the Social Security Act, the public assistance title known as Aid to Dependent Children in Alabama and on the national level, Aid to Families With Dependent Children.

We have been designated as a single State agent, said to effectuate the purposes of the Social Security Act.

And we are here on a suit of class action, suit in which the three judge panel starts down to Alabama substitute parent regulation as being violated by the Equal Protection Clause.

The lower court essentially held that the regulation of deprived, needy children of Equal Protection, and we are here to state the validity of the regulation and to show this Court that it is a reasonable classification particularly in the light of the Alabama Program and in the effort we are trying to make in the program.

The facts stated in the opinion by the lower Court are essentially facts that both counsel agree upon, there is -- I will briefly state them.

The plaintiff was the mother of four children who had been receiving a Dependent Children.

The policy, the substitute parent policy, was the plot against her, particularly I would say part two of the policy.

She went into the District Court and eventually secured an hour of which struck down the entire regulation.

We all contend that when one of our main contentions is that the lower Court was incorrect in striking down all aspects of the regulation when only a portion of it are applied to the plaintiff.

We are concerned of the differences and facts that the lower Court stated with our version.

The case worker who terminated the Aid in applying this substitute parent policy against her learned of the relationship between the plaintiff and a person we described as a substitute father but for the purposes of this court, you might think of it in terms of a substitute spouse.

We have a difficult semantic problem sometime with HEW and in trying to arrive at a good way to say things.

We sometimes are misstating the essence of what we want to tell you.

This regulation which was applied against the plaintiff purported to and did describe what we call in Alabama as informal relationships.

And our purpose is to try to place these informal relationships for purposes of public assistance in the same situation as persons who are married.

And the reason is it’s because persons who are married that is needy families do not get Aid in Alabama.

The program is restricted to able bodied persons, who do not have any kind of espouse, for the living in a common law relationship, one that is not recognized by law at all.

The plaintiff in this case considered that the case worker had learned of the relationship from some third party, I believe our version of it is that she had read it from the case record but had known about the relationship at the time when the policy was not in effect or the new case worker who came in.

And therefore went to the plaintiff and asked her about this.

And the plaintiff admitted or stated to the case worker, “Yes this is true.

I do have this relationship which fits part two of the regulation.”

And on that basis Aid was terminated.

Earl Warren:

I'm looking at the page 427 of the appendix, at Roman V, isn’t that the regulation we we’re talking about?

Mary Lee Stapp:

Yes, it is and that’s mentioned in several places but that is the best place to look on page 427.

Earl Warren:

But that’s Roman V, not part—

Mary Lee Stapp:

Excuse me.