Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Henne v. Wright case brief

Henne v. Wright case brief summary
904 F.2d 1208 (8th Cir. 1990)

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Plaintiff mothers sought declaratory and injunctive relief against defendants, health department and bureau of vital statistics (department and bureau), that Neb. Rev. Stat. § 71-640.01 (1986) unconstitutionally infringed their Fourteenth Amendment right to choose surnames for their daughters other than those prescribed. The United States District Court for the District of Nebraska granted the requested relief. Department and bureau appealed.

-The mothers attempted to change the surnames of their respective daughters.
-Section 71-640.01 restricted the choice of surnames that could be entered on a birth certificate.

On appeal, the department and bureau asserted that the district court erred in the following respects: (1) the mothers lacked standing; (2) the mothers failed to join certain parties necessary for a just adjudication under Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a); and (3) Neb. Rev. Stat. § 71-640.01 (1986) did not unconstitutionally infringe a fundamental right.

The court stated that the mothers alleged a sufficient injury in fact to have brought the action and that the failure to join the absent parties did not constitute error.
-However, the Fourteenth Amendment right of privacy did not protect the specific right asserted by the mothers.
-The statute rationally furthered a legitimate state interest and, therefore, passed constitutional scrutiny under the rational basis test.

OUTCOME: The judgment in the mothers' favor was reversed.

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