Thursday, November 14, 2013

Moore v. City of East Cleveland, Ohio case brief

Moore v. City of East Cleveland, Ohio case brief summary
431 U.S. 494 (1977)

Appellant sought review of a judgment of the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Cuyahoga County, which affirmed appellant's conviction of violating a city ordinance by housing in her dwelling a grandson.

Appellant argued that appellee municipality's housing ordinance, which categorized a second grandchild living in appellant's home as an illegal occupant, violated the Due Process Clause of U.S. Constitutional Amendment XIV.


  • The court agreed, saying that the ordinance bore no rational relationship to permissible state objectives. 
  • This ordinance did not distinguish between related and unrelated individuals, the court explained, but sliced into the family and regulated what categories of relatives might live together. Such intrusion into family life was not constitutionally protected. 
  • Rejecting arguments that the ordinance served to prevent overcrowding, minimize traffic, and avoid burdening the public school system, the court held that the provision had but a tenuous relation to the alleviation of these objectives. 
  • Nor was the constitutional right to live together as a family limited to the nuclear family, the court ruled, as the extended family traditionally played a role in providing sustenance and security. 
  • Cutting off protection of family rights at the first convenient boundary, the nuclear family, was arbitrary and could not be justified.

The judgment affirming appellant's conviction of violating appellee's city ordinance by housing a member of her extended family was reversed, because the ordinance violated constitutional due process protections by intruding upon family sanctity and because the ordinance had only a tenuous relationship to the alleviation of legitimate city goals.

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