LOCATION: Riverbed of the Arkansas River
DOCKET NO.: 540
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1969-1970)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
CITATION: 397 US 397 (1970)
ARGUED: Nov 19, 1969
DECIDED: Apr 06, 1970
Facts of the case
Media for Rosado v. Wyman
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 19, 1969 in Rosado v. Wyman
Warren E. Burger:
Number 540, Rosado against Wyman and others.
Mr. Albert you may proceed whenever you're ready.
Lee A. Albert:
Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.
New York has in continuous to participate in the federal aid families with dependent children program.
Under which Congress makes available to it, approximately $400 million federal dollars a year and imposes on the receipt and use of those dollars federal terms and conditions.
This case of argues are one of those recently and active of those conditions, Section 4028-23 or condition 23 of the Social Security Act.
Who is meaning in this case is critically an issue and in two other cases now on being appealed to this Court and other cases pending in the lower federal courts.
Cases in this -- the issues in this case to be sure are numerous in complex.
In light of the limited time available we should like to take them up in the following order.
We should like to begin with the meaning of the federal statute.
We believe that meaning is clear on its phase and from its legislative evolution and then discuss the arguments made against that meaning and third change whether a United District Court may so construed statute and apply it in New York and other states.
We begin with the obvious but important observation that it is a statute we are construing passed in our national legislative process in which the states are not into the minorities or unheard voices.
This statute like all other acts of Congress; seeks to obviate some evil has some name seeks to work some change in policy.
It has, in other words, some intelligible meaning and some intelligible purpose.
We believe that the meaning urged by us in this case and adopted by the district judge below is the only meaning consistent with the language, its history and consistent with any intelligible purpose.
The numerous other meanings proffered to the statute by New York, by other states, by the Department Health Education and Welfare reduce Congressional will to a meaningless exercise and futility.
The terms used in the statute are not unheard of or unfamiliar in public assistance administration.
The amounts used to determine the needs of individuals is a comprehensive description of a states need standard, long established and public assistance to determine how much aid an individual is entitled to.
The second phrase we force to any maximums, those are devices used by states to reduce the amount of a below that of state recognized need.
An adjustment to the first device in any state to pays need in full that doesn't impose any maximum automatically results in a cost of living increase to recipients.
An adjustment to the need standard and any maximum similarly results in a cost of living increase to states with maximums.
That the latter increase is proportionate to the extent of the state might need in a given base period.
The statute by looking to the amounts used and the time they were last established refers through the state standard that made during some base period.
That base period is the time of an act into the statute in January 1968.
The off shot of the exercise is that states are commanded to maintain their grant levels with one adjustment to keep pace with living costs by July 1, 1969.
The effect in all states is equal in so far as the conditions the states need standard in each date is accepted the maximum that it was paying during a given base period is accepted.
We think that the legislative background of this statute but confirms this meaning.
It was treated -- it was developed in the Senate.
It stemmed from the administration's proposal that was quite a bit more far reaching.
That proposal required not only annual updating of the state's standard of need but it also required that all states pay need in full and there were at that time 33 states that did not pay in full, many of which did not pay more than 50% of needs somewhat less.