Richardson v. Wright

PETITIONER: Richardson
LOCATION: McDonnell Douglas Corporation Factory

DOCKET NO.: 70-161
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)

CITATION: 405 US 208 (1972)
ARGUED: Jan 13, 1972
DECIDED: Feb 24, 1972

Gray -
Robert N. Sayler - for Radie Wright and others

Facts of the case


Media for Richardson v. Wright

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 13, 1972 in Richardson v. Wright

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in 70-161, Richardson against Wright and 5211, Wright against Richardson.

Mr. Gray I think you may proceed now.


Good afternoon Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

These two cases are here before the Court on cross appeals and have been consolidated for purposes of argument.

These cases arise from a final judgment, a statutory Three-Judge Court for the United States District Court of the District of Columbia.

The court below held that Section 225 of the Social Security Act was unconstitutional and that under that Act the recipient of the Social Security Disability Insurance was not afforded the opportunity for an oral hearing prior to suspension.

The court below relied on the decision of this Court in a recent case, Goldberg v. Kelly, which has since become rather well-known in this particular field of the law.

Section 225 of the Social Security Act permits the Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare on information obtained by him or submitted to him to suspend the benefits, the payments to a Social Security Disability Insurance recipient pending further investigation.

This particular section of the Social Security Act has no provision whatsoever for a hearing.

It should be noted also Your Honors that this particular section of the Social Security Act has been commented on in the floor debates of the Congress and in the reports of the various committees of the Congress and its purpose has been explicitly stated to permit the Secretary to protect the Social Security Trust Funds to administer the Social Security Disability Insurance Program in a practical, efficient and helpful manner so as to assist the maximum number of beneficiaries within the resources available.

This case first arose when the appellee, cross appellant, one Radie Wright, applied in the Washington D.C. District Office for Social Security benefits.

Mr. Wright had worked since the age of 14 and had been recently hospitalized in October of 1965 to be exact in his application, for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits which was filed June 1, 1966.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Well, excuse me Mr. Gray, may I ask, do I understand that the Secretary has now adopted the procedures and required States to adopt procedures which rather provide most of the requirements of Goldberg?


No sir, Mr. Justice Brennan, that is not quite the case.

He has adopted procedures suggested by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to a certain extent and I would --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

I am not going as far as were they applicable to Goldberg?


Not going as far as the holding of the District Court nor as far as the cross appellants would like the Secretary to go.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

No, but how do I compare with the requirements in Goldberg on termination of welfare?


They would not go as far I do Your Honor.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Where would it -- in what respect would they go for?


They would go -- let me tell you perhaps Your Honor right at this point in time what they would do.

The District Court below, as a part of its holding, stated that the recipient should receive timely notice and an opportunity to respond and the Secretary has gone that far in his new regulations going out through the Social Security Disability Insurance System to state that State agencies shall not recommend suspension until they contact that recipient.

Give him timely notice, offer him the opportunity to present his case which I might --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Meanwhile, continuing the payment of benefits?



There would be no suspension or recommendation initiated sir.

I might point out, Mr. Justice Brennan, as you well know, Your Honor that at this point in time a recipient or an applicant can come right into that District Office now at the very first step of intake with counsel in tow and can have that counsel assisting at every step of the proceeding right along, right up to the point that --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

I did not mean to interrupt you, would you complete?


Yes sir.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Mr. Gray, let me follow through at this point if I may.