Student Presentation

Goldberg v. Kelly (1970)
Property, Welfare Benefits and Due
Phil Rutherford
Bill Reynolds
• Are welfare benefits government sponsored
charity, which is given as a right?
• Do benefit-eligible individuals have a property
interest in their benefits?
Social Welfare in the United States
“The American Dream”
• American ideals of individualism and opportunity
– Rebellion from monarchy and patrimony
– Fate is not predetermined, you can go as far as your
hard work will bring you
– “Rags to riches” in one lifetime; immigrants’ children
can run the country
• Sotomayor (mother and father PR immigrants); Obama
(father was Kenyan); 40 percent of fortune 500 companies
founded by immigrants or children of immigrants (Apple,
Oracle, Clorox, Boeing, Disney, etc)
Social Welfare, Cont.
• Societal changes prompt government aid
– WW1 – orphans and widows lack substantive
ability to provide for themselves
– Great Depression – 25 percent unemployment
– Hundreds of thousands of homeless Americans
– FDR creates the New Deal – Social reform at the
federal government level – creates Aid for
Dependent Children
Social Welfare, cont.
• ADC – provided federal
administration for state
dollars to supplement
singles and widowed
mothers pension
– States, as they were
footing the bill, were given
considerable discretion on
• “Suitable homes,” excluding
“undesirables” (never
married, AA women and
• Participation by the states was made voluntary and in 1939 eight
states had no ADC program.
• A provision that required the programs to pay a "reasonable
subsistence compatible with decency and health" was removed.
• Most of the federal oversight, which would have promised equal
treatment to applicants regardless of race or marital status, was
• Administration of the program was transferred from the Children's
Bureau to the Social Security Administration, which lacked the
Children's Bureau's commitment to poor children and their
• The initial appropriation for the program was reduced from $120 to
$25 million
Public Perception
• After WW2, so many widowed mothers were
eligible for welfare benefits, they were removed
from the program and administered benefits
through the military
– This removed the “worthy” mothers and left
• Additionally, women who worked during WW2
were staying in workforce, erasing societal
impressions that women could not support
In the 1950s, 13 states moved to exclude children
from the program on the basis of birth status
(children born out of wedlock).
• Are welfare benefits government sponsored
charity, which is given as a right?
• Do benefit-eligible individuals have a property
interest in their benefits?
Social Welfare, cont.
• 1960s see a dramatic increase in welfare benefit
– Migration of African-American families from the South
• Shapiro v. Thompson (1969) - the Court found
unconstitutional state regulations that required families to
live in state for a certain time period before becoming
eligible for AFDC.
– Court decisions ending “unfit home” and “undesirable
family” exclusions
• King v. Smith (1968) - challenged an Alabama regulation
allowing for AFDC termination if a recipient "cohabitated"
with a man
– Legal Aid programs assisting in applications
The Road to the Supreme Court
• The Plaintiffs’ Attorneys:
– In 1967, lawyers at Mobilization for Youth Legal Unit, along with
the Center for Social Welfare Policy and Law, sued the city and
state of New York challenging welfare terminations.
• David Diamond was the primary lawyer who prepared and filed the
lawsuit for the MFY
• Lee Albert became the lead attorney in the case working with the Center
– The Center and the National Welfare Rights Organization,
another national public interest law agency, were at odds
• Two former MFW attorneys, Peter Sitkin and Steve
Antler, had filed a similar case in California, with what the
MFW believed were inferior facts
Kelly v. Wyman
• MFW decided to sue George Wyman, the New York
State welfare commissioner, and Jack Goldberg, the
New York City welfare commissioner, in NY state court
• After the lawsuit was filed, but before it was decided,
New York State changed its termination policy,
threatening the suit
– NYS now allowed an informal conference prior to
– NYC, feeling this was too cost-prohibitive, began a “paper
review” process, in which the recipient could submit
– Under both options, a full hearing was available after
benefits were terminated.
• The Second Circuit Court of Appeals found:
– (1) There is due process protection in welfare
benefit termination
– (2) New York State’s termination procedure was
constitutional, but
– (3) New York City’s paper review was
Goldberg v. Kelly
• New York City appealed to the Supreme Court,
and New York State dropped from the case
– Cert was granted on October 13, 1969
– New York City’s brief was 9 pages; the plaintiff’s was
• The lawyers for the Plaintiffs were not confident about their
• Dropped the “right to live” argument in favor of the
“property right” argument, but not without much debate
– The United States government weighed in on the side
of New York City
• Oral arguments
– The MFW nominated
Archibald Cox to give
the oral arguments.
– The Center, and Lee
Albert, wanted Lee
Albert to argue.
– Albert would win out
Lee Albert Oral Argument
Justice Brennan’s Decision
 There are two basic requirements for due process to be
satisfied re deprivation of welfare benefits
 Timely and adequate notice of termination with reasons;
 Effective opportunity to participate in hearing prior to
 Failure to provide something akin to adjudicative hearing
prior to termination of benefits violated due process
 It was the only time, before or since, that the Court has held
that due process requires an evidentiary hearing prior to a
temporary deprivation.
 It was emphasized there that welfare assistance is given to persons on
the very margin of subsistence
Ten Requirements:
Timely and adequate notice
Oral presentation of evidence
Oral presentation of arguments
Disclosure of opposing evidence
Right to an impartial decision maker
Confrontation of any adverse witnesses
Cross-examination of adverse witnesses
Right to retain attorney or representative
Decision based on the record of the hearing
Statement of reasons and evidence supporting the
Interests, Entitlements, and Privileges
Video 1
Video 2
America’s Entitlement Culture
There are two basic types of welfare
1. “Categorical Programs” – designed
for people who meet certain
requirements (i.e. blind, disabled,
poor, etc.)
2. “Universal Programs” – available
to those in the wage-labor force
when they reach a certain age.
America’s Entitlement Culture
• In the 1960’s “entitlement” payment
accounted for just under 1/3 of government
• In 2010, these payments accounted for
about 2/3 of all federal spending.
• In 2010, there were more American's
receiving disability checks from the
government than were working for an U.S.
• “There has been a slow shift in the
American mindset from citizen, to consumer,
to ward of the state.”
America’s Entitlement Culture
What are some factors that contribute to this mindset?
1. Excessive executive compensation and severance packages which destroy
accountability (if you mess up – you still get a ton of money to leave)
2. Politicians using their positions of power to make more money (perks, speaking
engagements, endorsements, book deals etc.)
3. Existing corruption in current systems (because other people are taking excessively
from the system, I’m going to get my cut as well!)
4. Public employee union benefits (pay, free healthcare, generous pensions, etc) –
taxpayers are floating the states costs
5. Excessive Government spending with no perceived consequences
6. Perception of others wealth compared to the reality of your own situation
(television, celebrities, etc.)
America’s Entitlement Culture
Acknowledging that everyone contributes to the entitlement culture is the
best way of addressing it…
Justice Black’s Dissent
“[T]he Court today holds that it would violate Due
Process of the Fourteenth Amendment to stop
paying those people weekly or monthly
allowances unless the government first affords
them a full evidentiary hearing even though
welfare officials are persuaded that the recipients
are not rightfully entitled to receive a penny
under the law…”
- Justice Hugo Black, Goldberg v. Kelly
Justice Black’s Dissent
Why did Justice Black Dissent?
1. The Court overstepped its purpose as an
interpretive body of government when the
majority effectively used its power to
2. The majority was hindering the government’s
ability to fight against welfare fraud thus
creating unnecessary economic waste.
3. Placing more bureaucracy on the poor did not
solve their problems
“Due-Process Revolution”
Although the Court affirmed that statutory
entitlements were protected by due process
because they created a property interest for
the beneficiary, the considerations given to the
form and amount of process necessary to
terminate benefits underwent several changes
post Goldberg.
The majority held in Goldberg that termination hearings did not need to take the
form of a trial (or quasi-trial) but implemented procedures that looked similar. Later
a judicial 3-prong balancing test was established where judges were asked to:
1. Identify the property interest that will be affected by the action.
2. Identify the risks of erroneously depriving a beneficiary under the current system
and weigh the benefits, if any, of implementing new procedural safeguards.
3. Identify the government’s interest and consider how additional or substitute
procedures will affect fiscal and administrative resources
“Due-Process Revolution”
“The Due Process Clause Means Something More Than Accuracy” – Jerry
Regardless of the exact methodology courts use, due process advocates encouraged
them to be mindful of the interest or liberties at stake. Due process is concerned
with more than accuracy, it is concerned with:
• Individual dignity
• Equal application of the law
• Legitimizing government regulations
The fear of the “slippery slope” ensured that some of the effects of Goldberg were
relatively short-lived. If due process in the form a “fair-hearing” was required to
terminate welfare benefits, what else would due process have to be applied to? The
Due Process Revolution helped reign in the reach of Goldberg. The 3-prong
approach articulated in XXXXXX was subsequently narrowed when courts began
focusing on rooted legal traditions instead of procedural checklist.
“Welfare Reform”
From the 1930s to 1970 court ruling during
the Civil Rights Movement struck down
many of the laws that disqualified
individuals thus creating new categories of
people eligible for benefits (able bodied
adults, and two-parent families)
In the Mid 1990’s, states began significant work-related reform initiatives, a process
that was accelerated by the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work
Opportunity Act in 1996.
The War on Poverty created an expensive welfare system that encouraged
dependence and discouraged employment
“Welfare Reform”
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 (PRWORA)
•The bill was signed into law on August 22, 1996 and represented a
fundamental shift in federal assistance to the poor
•The bill added a workforce development component that was seen as a
“reassertion of America’s work ethic.”
•Notions of the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor
•Attitudes towards women had changed (single mothers were encouraged to
be more like their non-poor counterparts.)
•People thought that the poor were becoming too dependent on public
assistance and lacked incentive to seek employment
Lasting Effects of Goldberg
Goldberg highlighted for the court that due process has costs as well
as benefits. Goldberg also reminded the court of its role in ensuring
fair and just outcomes.
Academics criticize Goldberg for not doing enough. Some Say
1. Goldberg didn’t go far enough
2. Goldberg harmed social service workers in their ability to do their
job by undermining their authority
3. Goldberg did not restrain administrative rulemaking in a way that
was beneficial to recipients
Although not perfect, Goldberg set the tone for the due process
conversation. It asks us to consider the resources of each party to the
litigation, the potential for risk or harm to each party, and the adequacy
of current or substitute procedures when terminating benefits
Final Lessons from Goldberg
1st “Causes of action are not fixed concepts”
2nd “Just outcomes depend on adequate process and offers a framework for what
constitute due process” “Goldberg is a part of a series of cases that resulted in a “due
process” revolution that obligated administrative agencies to follow a format made
familiar by the courts.”
3rd “Goldberg is a part of a series of cases that resulted in a “due process”
revolution that obligated administrative agencies to follow a format made
familiar by the courts.”
4th The disagreement between the majority dissent highlight a debate in American
law; the role of the courts and the legislature in articulating rights, establishing
remedies, and assessing the values, costs, and benefits of both.
5th The problem of creating a uniform body of rules and regulations while addressing
the specific needs of the individual

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