Sunday, December 8, 2013

Stanley v. Illinois case brief

Stanley v. Illinois case brief summary
405 U.S. 645 (1972)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Plaintiff, an unwed father, petitioned for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Illinois challenging its holding that plaintiff could be separated from his children in a dependency proceeding on the single fact that he had not been married to the children's dead mother. He claimed that his equal protection rights under U.S. Constitutional Amendment XIV were violated by respondent State of Illinois when he was denied a hearing on his parental fitness.

CASE FACTS
In a dependency proceeding by the State, the children of plaintiff unwed father were declared wards of the State. Plaintiff appealed from the order, claiming that he had never been shown to have been an unfit parent and that he had been deprived of equal protection of the laws, as guaranteed by U.S. Constitutional Amendment XIV. The state supreme court held that plaintiff could properly be separated from his children upon proof of the single fact that he and the children's mother, who was deceased, had not been married. Plaintiff filed a petition for writ of certiorari.

DISCUSSION

  • The Court granted certiorari and reversed, finding that the State's interest in caring for plaintiff's children was de minimis if plaintiff was shown to be a fit father. 
  • The Court held that plaintiff was denied equal protection of the law because all parents were constitutionally entitled to a hearing on their fitness before their children were removed from their custody. 
  • Thus, plaintiff, as an unwed father, was also entitled to a hearing.
CONCLUSION
The Court granted plaintiff's petition for certiorari. The Court reversed the state supreme court's holding and remanded the case to the state supreme court for proceedings not inconsistent with the Court's opinion.

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