Thursday, May 23, 2013

Goldberg v. Kelly case brief

Goldberg v. Kelly case brief
397 U.S. 254, 90 S. Ct. 1011, 25 L. Ed. 2d 287 (1970)

CASE SYNOPSIS: Appellant commissioner of social services sought review of a decision of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, which ruled in favor of appellee welfare recipients. The district court held that before welfare benefits could be terminated, only a fair prior evidentiary hearing satisfied due process requirements.

FACTS: The Supreme Court affirmed the determination of the district court that only a fair hearing prior to termination of welfare benefits satisfied due process. The procedures used by the commissioner in terminating welfare benefits required notice of termination and a review by a local welfare official, allowed a recipient to make a written statement to demonstrate why benefits should not be terminated, and further allowed a fair hearing after termination. On review the Court held that a pre-termination evidentiary hearing to produce an initial determination of the validity of the termination was necessary to satisfy procedural due process. The Court found that especially with welfare recipients who lacked independent resources, termination of benefits while the issue was being decided deprived recipients of the very means necessary to live. The Court noted that the need to concentrate upon finding the means for daily subsistence adversely affected the ability to seek redress from the termination, and the protection of due process outweighed the expense of a pre-termination hearing and continued benefits pending decisions.

CONCLUSION: The district court's determination that failure to provide a fair hearing prior to the termination of welfare benefits failed to satisfy procedural due process was affirmed. The Court held that termination of benefits prior to a fair hearing adversely affected a recipient's ability to seek redress.

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  1. Goldberg v. Kelly case brief summary, US, 1970

    a) Goldberg was a welfare recipient who was challenging the constitutionality of the termination process in the welfare system. He claimed that the practice did not satisfy due process without a pre-termination hearing. The Court held that “the interest of the eligible recipient in uninterrupted receipt of public assistance, coupled with the State’s interest that his payments not be erroneously terminated, clearly outweighs that State’s competing concern to prevent any increase in its fiscal and administrative burdens.”

    b) The current process involved an informal meeting, a letter, an opportunity for written appeal to a higher authority, a post-termination hearing, and finally an opportunity for judicial review.
    c) Due Process Clause: 5th – federal, 14th – state; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
    d) History of due process
    (1) The Magna Carta: “by the law of the land” à became “due process of law”
    (a) Life, liberty, and property in § 39 of the Magna Carta
    (b) Magna Carta developed by the Barons – they had much to gain by keeping the King in power and maintaining government, but there were serious flaws in the system. They wanted this structure of laws and enforcement to ensure that they would gain (and keep) the most wealth and power.

    (2) Why “due process”
    (a) We can’t specify all potential situations, so we bring in a formalistic process to encompass these potential issues[1]

    (b) “Due” enables the process to be tailored

    e) Black dissent è we should leave these process decisions to Congress
    (1) Language argument
    (2) Welfare is not property
    (a) But the Court proceeds with the assumption that welfare is considered property

    f) Weighing of the individual’s interest against the State’s interest

    g) Brennan è all over constitutional rights
    (1) SC relies heavily on precedent and the doctrine of stare decisis
    (2) This was nothing new; traces back all the way to the Magna Carta

    h) Necessity leads to the pre-termination hearing

  2. Goldberg was the SS Administrator. Kelly et al. were the Appellees.


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