McNamara v. County of San Diego Dept. of Social Servs.

RESPONDENT: County of San Diego Dept. of Social Servs.
LOCATION: Dallas City Hall

DOCKET NO.: 87-5840
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 488 US 152 (1988)
ARGUED: Nov 28, 1988
DECIDED: Dec 06, 1988

James E. Sutherland - on behalf of the Appellant
Lloyd Harmon, Jr. - on behalf of the Appellee

Facts of the case


Media for McNamara v. County of San Diego Dept. of Social Servs.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 28, 1988 in McNamara v. County of San Diego Dept. of Social Servs.

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument next in No. 87-5840, Edward McNamara v. the County of San Diego Department of Adoptions.

Mr. Sutherland, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

James E. Sutherland:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This case is a case involving the complete and irrevocable termination of an unwed father's parental rights to associate with his natural child as contrasted to a custody or even a visitation dispute which would be the province of the state domestic relations courts and would have to be handled there if Mr. McNamara prevails.

This appeal presents equal protection claims by the father who was deprived of that most precious of fundamental rights, the right to be a parent and to raise and care for his biological child, and results in the loss of any chance of a lifelong father-daughter relationship.

Byron R. White:

What were your claims below?

James E. Sutherland:

The claim--

Byron R. White:

Was it a due process claim?

James E. Sutherland:

--The claim in the trial court was that he was entitled to the parental preference under the California statutes, relying on Stanley v. Illinois, both establishing the fundamental right, and both due process and equal protection claims.

Byron R. White:

So you did press equal protection claims below?

James E. Sutherland:

They were pressed there by raising that particular argument in the trial court and on appeal.

The Fourteenth Amendment was not cited.

The California Supreme Court, however, when it took over the case, did address all Fourteenth Amendment issues, equal protection.

Byron R. White:

Including equal protection?

James E. Sutherland:

Equal protection and due process.

It is in the opinion in the jurisdictional statement.

Byron R. White:

Right, all right, thank you.

But you... did you raise or did you not raise equal protection in the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court?

James E. Sutherland:

Well, we submit that we raised the issue but not as directly or precisely as it might well have been.

Did you ever use the words?

James E. Sutherland:

Yes, in the brief, in Appellant's opening brief and in discussing the Stanley v. Illinois case, the Appellant, the father, did mention both due process--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

In what, before what court?

James E. Sutherland:

--That would be before the Court of Appeal.

The brief was... the way the procedure works, the California Supreme Court acted on the same briefs.

They just took the case over and went there.

As I recall, the words were used also in the trial briefs in the Superior Court.

We rely primarily here on the jurisdiction claim on the passed upon, under the pressed or passed upon test.

Antonin Scalia:

Excuse me, the words were used in describing Stanley?

Is that--

James E. Sutherland:

Yes, Your Honor.