Moore v. City of East Cleveland

RESPONDENT:City of East Cleveland
LOCATION:East Cleveland City Hall

DOCKET NO.: 75-6289
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 431 US 494 (1977)
ARGUED: Nov 02, 1976
DECIDED: May 31, 1977

Edward R. Stege, Jr. – for appellant
Leonard Young – for appellee

Facts of the case

East Cleveland’s housing ordinance limited occupancy of a dwelling unit to members of a single family. Part of the ordinance was a strict definition of “family” which excluded Mrs. Inez Moore who lived with her son and two grandsons.


Did the housing ordinance violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Media for Moore v. City of East Cleveland

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 02, 1976 in Moore v. City of East Cleveland

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – May 31, 1977 in Moore v. City of East Cleveland

Warren E. Burger:

The judgments and opinion of the Court to — in 75-6289, Moore against City of East Cleveland will be announced by Mr. Justice Powell.

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

The appellant, Mrs. Inez Moore, lives in her home in East Cleveland Ohio with her son and two grandsons who are first cousins rather than brothers.

A city passing ordinance, limits the occupancy of dwelling units to members of a single family.

But underneath now, a definition of family, Mrs. Moore’s household does not qualify.

As a result, the city ordered her to remove one grandson from her home.

When she failed to comply, she was charged with a violation of the ordinance convicted and sentenced to five days in jail and a $25.00 fine.

The city defends this restrictive definition of the family, excluding grandchildren when they are cousins on conventional zoning grounds, that is population congestion, traffic safety and the like.

But we perceive no basis in light of these objectives for defining families so narrowly as to deprive grandchildren of their privilege of living with their parent and grandmother.

The institution of family is deeply rooted in our country’s history and tradition.

That tradition is not limited to the nuclear family.

Decisions of this Court long have recognized a constitutional liberty interest in certain family rights.

The justices rejoined me in the plurality opinion find no justification for the severe limitation this ordinance imposes upon family associations.

Accordingly, we reverse the Ohio Court of Appeals.

The plurality opinion I have filed is joined by Mr. Justice Brennan, Mr. Justice Marshall and Mr. Justice Blackmun.

Mr. Justice Brennan has filed a concurring opinion, joined by Mr. Justice Marshall.

Mr. Justice Stevens had filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.

The Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Stewart, and Mr. Justice White have each filed dissenting opinion, Mr. Justice Stewart’s opinion being joined by Mr. Justice Rehnquist.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice Powell.