Schweiker v. Gray Panthers

PETITIONER: Schweiker
RESPONDENT: Gray Panthers
LOCATION: Minnesota State Legislature

DOCKET NO.: 80-756
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 453 US 34 (1981)
ARGUED: Apr 29, 1981
DECIDED: Jun 25, 1981

ADVOCATES:
Gill Deford - for respondents
Gill De Ford - on behalf of the Respondents
George W. Jones - on behalf of the Petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Schweiker v. Gray Panthers

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 29, 1981 in Schweiker v. Gray Panthers

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments first this morning in Schweiker, Secretary of Health and Human Services v. Gray Panthers.

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

George W. Jones:

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

The issue in this case is whether Congress' use of the term "available income" in the Medicaid statute was intended to preclude the consideration of the income of an institutionalized applicant's spouse for the purpose of making Medicaid determinations.

Respondent filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the regulations of the Secretary of Health and Human Services on statutory and constitutional grounds.

The regulations required all participating states to consider the income of an applicant's spouse in limited circumstances, but also permitted some states to consider the income of an applicant's spouse more broadly.

The District Court held the regulations invalid on statutory grounds, and therefore did not consider the constitutional arguments.

On appeal, the D.C. Circuit affirmed on the ground that the Secretary had failed to consider certain factors and policy concerns that the Court thought relevant.

One judge dissented.

Pursuant to the order of the District Court on remand, the Secretary has now published new regulations based on the analysis of the Court of Appeals.

While it is difficult to determine precisely what the Court of Appeals held, it is nevertheless clear that the Court erred in invalidating the Secretary's regulations.

Congress expressly authorized the Secretary to define the term "available income" for purposes of the Medicaid statute.

Byron R. White:

Could I ask, that new regulations have been issued finally?

George W. Jones:

Yes.

Byron R. White:

And if you win this case what happens to them?

George W. Jones:

The regulations may be modified.

In the preamble to the regulations the Secretary pointed out that the regulations were based solely on the analysis of the District, the D.C. Circuit, and... which had, in effect, rejected the Secretary's legal analysis--

Byron R. White:

Well did he need to issue the regulations Under the... was he ordered to issue them?

George W. Jones:

--Yes.

In fact, the District Court--

Byron R. White:

Did he ever ask for a stay?

George W. Jones:

--Several times.

And denied.

Byron R. White:

Including here, I suppose?

George W. Jones:

No stay was asked for in this Court.

Potter Stewart:

Will these new regulations be rescinded if you prevail in this litigation?

George W. Jones:

The Secretary has indicated that depending on the nature of this Court's disposition of this case, the regulations would probably... may have to be revised and of course, rescinded first and then revised.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

You mean, if there's a reversal there will have to be a revision?

George W. Jones:

Yes.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

There wouldn't have to be, would there?