Dealing with state regulation in the social and economic field,
not affecting freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
Economic and Social Welfare
State does not violate the Equal Protection Clause merely
because the classifications made by its law are imperfect.
If the classification has some reasonable Basis, it does not
offend he Constitution.
Grant is Constitutionally Valid
By keying the maximum family AFDC grants to the minimum wage a
steadily employed head of house received, the regulation
encourages employment and avoids discrimination between welfare
families and the families of the working poor.
Over and Under Inclusive
The equal protection clause does not require that a State must
choose between attacking every aspect of a problem or not
attacking the problem at all.
It is enough that the States action be rationally based and
free from invidious discrimination.
Dissent - Justice Marshall
This case involved the VITAL interests of a powerless minority,
the poor families, without breadwinners.
This minority is far removed from the area of business
Equal Protection Analysis should concentrate on
The character of the classification in question.
The relative importance to the individuals in the class
discriminated against of the government benefits that they do
The asserted state interests in support of the classification.
Individual Interest are at stake
It is the individual interests here at stake that, as the Court
concedes, most clearly distinguish this case from the "business
regulation" equal protection cases.
AFDC support to needy dependent children provides the stuff that
sustains those children's lives: food, clothing, shelter.
And this Court has already recognized several times that when a
benefit, even a "gratuitous" benefit, is necessary to sustain
life, stricter constitutional standards, both procedural and
substantive, are applied to the deprivation of that benefit.
They are needy children
Appellees are not a gas company or an optical dispenser; they
are needy dependent children and families who are discriminated
against by the State.
The discrimination is not rationale
The basis of that discrimination
-- the classification of individuals into large and small
-- is too arbitrary and too unconnected to the asserted
rationale, the impact on those discriminated against
-- the denial of even a subsistence existence -- too great, and
the supposed interests served too contrived and attenuated to
meet the requirements of the Constitution