Lascaris v. Shirley

PETITIONER: John Lascaris, Commissioner, Dept. of Social Services of Onondaga County
RESPONDENT: Sylvia Shirley, Elizabeth Anderson, Jane Doe
LOCATION: Commissioner’s Office

DOCKET NO.: 73-1016
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)

CITATION: 420 US 730 (1975)
ARGUED: Dec 18, 1974
DECIDED: Mar 19, 1975

Alan W. Rubenstein - for appellants
Douglas A. Eldridge - pro hac vice, by special leave of Court for appellees

Facts of the case

Respondents alleged that a section the New York welfare statute was unconstitutional because it conflicted with the Social Security Act. The New York statute required recipients to cooperate in a support action against a missing parent or they would not receive benefits. The Social Security Act contained no such requirement. A three-judge district court in the Northern District of New York agreed and ruled in favor of the respondents. The Supreme Court heard the case on direct appeal.


Does the New York welfare law requiring cooperation in a support action against a missing parent unconstitutionally conflict with the Social Security Act?

Media for Lascaris v. Shirley

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 18, 1974 in Lascaris v. Shirley

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 19, 1975 in Lascaris v. Shirley

Warren E. Burger:

The disposition of 73-1016, Lascaris against Shirley and 73-1095, Lavine against Shirley will be announced by Mr. Justice Brennan.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

In this case, a three-judge District Court in New York held invalid a New York statute that required the recipient of welfare benefits to cooperate in a paternity or support action against an absent parent as a condition of eligibility for benefits under the program for Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

The ground of the decision was that the New York statute was in conflict with the eligibility requirements of the federal statute.

Since that case was decided below, Congress has amended the federal statute effective the coming July which now makes ineligible for benefits any recipient who refuses to cooperate to compel the absent parent to contribute to the support of the child.

Therefore, although we agree with the three-judge court that the New York statute was invalid for the reason given by the three-judge court and therefore affirm its judgment.

In light of the new statute we have no occasion to prepare an extended opinion.

The Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Powell and Mr. Justice Rehnquist dissented.