Dandridge v. Williams

Facts

Appellees were residents of Maryland which passed and sought to enact a law that established a maximum amount of federal and state benefits which households could receive.  The law set a maximum dollar value of $250 per month per household.  Appellees were a large family who would have been adversely affected by the regulation and sued under the equal protection clause of the constitution.  The district court held that the regulation was unconstitutional and violated the equal protection clause.

Issue

Whether a law that caps household governmental benefits at a certain level violates the equal protection clause of the constitution.

Analysis/Holding

No, the law does not violate the equal protection clause, reversed.  The court argued that social security was a regulatory scheme that was clearly for administration at the state level.  States had the privilege to calculate and distribute benefits as they see fit, within the parameters established by the law.  States may have a legitimate interest in reducing expenditures per household or per capita to further savings.  Large and small families are not traditionally discriminated against classes in America and therefore are not deserved of anything but minimal scrutiny.  And as long as the state can show a legitimate state interest and rational basis “consistent with state objectives” the law will be upheld.  Here, the state has stated it wants to encourage work and minimize governmental dependency.  The court need only find this to be “rational” for the law to survive.  This interest is clearly “rational;” and therefore, the law survives the court’s scrutiny.

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