Wyman v. Rothstein

LOCATION: Nolin River Reservoir

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1969-1970)

CITATION: 398 US 275 (1970)
ARGUED: Apr 27, 1970 / Apr 28, 1970
DECIDED: Jun 01, 1970

Facts of the case


Media for Wyman v. Rothstein

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 27, 1970 (Part 1) in Wyman v. Rothstein

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 28, 1970 (Part 2) in Wyman v. Rothstein

Warren E. Burger:

We will resume arguments in Number 896 Wyman against Rothstein.

Peter L. Strauss:

Mr. Chief Justice --

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Strauss, you may proceed.

Peter L. Strauss:

-- may it please the Court.

Yesterday, I believe I was asked at the close of the session about remand, ought there to be a remand, ought this Court finally to pass on the statutory issue here.

I think I should say, I think there would be a substantial point in remanding it, there’s no need to pass on the statutory issue finally.

And this is a preliminary injunction.

All that’s necessary is that the Court be convinced that the appellees probably will succeed upon their cause of action in the court below.

And as I was starting to say, the State of New York in this most recently enacted statute, of which I believe the Court has copies, has made some policy judgments which I think go to the heart of some of the doubts.


Peter L. Strauss:


If we were the remand [Inaudible]

Peter L. Strauss:

No, I should think not.

To affirm the preliminary injunction, but on the basis that appellees had shown that they probably would succeed that there was no abuse of discretion on the part of the --

Warren E. Burger:

Succeed on the constitutional issue or on the statute?

Peter L. Strauss:

On the statute, I think this Court can pass on that issue here.

It remarked with some strength in footnote in the Dandridge case regarding the right of appellees to put forward any ground that would support the judgment which they received below.

It remarked with some strength in Rosado, that statutory issue should be reached before constitutional issues and I think on those basis that this Court would have no difficulty reaching the statutory issue and making the judgment on the basis of the facts which New York has I think conceded.


Peter L. Strauss:

I think that was left open in Rosado.

I think the situation in this Court in Rosado however was that the petitioners there had relief before this Court.

Here petitioners come into this Court, relief having been granted.

We take the position that that relief is no more than an order of compliance with the federal standard which in our view New York is in any event obligated to comply.

We believe that petitioners have made the showing, a sufficient showing that New York is out of compliance with that standard to justify such an order.

It leaves free to New York the choice which this Court said New York must have in Rosado, that is the choice of withdrawing entirely from the federal program.

And then the point I wanted to make them the basis of the statute is that New York has in fact made that choice.

In the statute the legislature said and I’m quoting at line nine of the first page, if you have it there, “The legislature hereby declares its intent to make provision for the state to meet all necessary federal requirements under the Social Security Act.

And again at line three, “It is the intent of the legislature that the Department of Social Services shall determine and establish the standards of need for public assistance in this state in conformity with federal requirements.”

And again, within the adopted amended Section 131 (a) itself on page 4 at line twelve, “If federal requirements make it necessary to adjust any schedule of grants and allowances or part thereof, the department shall make such adjustments.”

So that I think New York’s judgment in this case is entirely clear and as we set out in the rather long footnote of the end of our amicus brief, is the judgment in which all states of the union have essentially concurred.