Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Zablocki v. Redhail case brief

Zablocki v. Redhail

Case dealing with permission to marry if a person had a child support order. Wisconsin residents were prevented under a Wisconsin statute from marrying if they were behind in their child support obligations or if the children to whom they were obligated were likely to become public charges.

Issue: Is this an invalid statute?
Holding:  Yes.

Rule: Reasonable regulations that do not significantly interfere with decisions to enter into the marital relationship may legitimately be imposed.

The statute provides that a Wisconsin resident may not marry without court permission if they have a minor child that they do not have custody of and which they have the obligation to pay child support… they have to go to court and prove that they can and will support the child.

State interests: (1) keep kids off welfare and (2) also to counsel the marriage-applicant as to necessity of fulfilling his prior child support obligations

Since the right to marry is fundamental, the statute that interferes with marriage will have to undergo critical examination of the state interests advanced in support of the classification. When a statutory classification significantly interferes with the exercise of a fundamental right, it cannot be upheld unless it is supported by sufficiently important state interests and is closely tailored to effectuate only those interests.

Marriage is considered a liberty protected by the Due Process Clause and also as a right of privacy provided by the 14th Amendment. Court says it would make little sense to recognize a right of privacy with respect to other matters of family life and not with respect to the decision to enter the relationship that is the foundation of the family in our society.
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