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Shapiro v. Thompson

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Constitutional Law Keyed to Stone

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 394 U.S. 618, 89 S. Ct. 1322, 22 L. Ed. 2d 600, 1969 U.S. 3190.

Brief Fact Summary. Certain states enacted statutes denying welfare assistance to residents who had not lived in their jurisdictions for at least one year. The constitutionality of the statutes is brought into question.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. One year waiting requirements for eligibility to a State’s welfare benefits violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment inasmuch as they impose upon the fundamental right to travel.


Facts. Appellants, certain states and the District of Columbia, enacted statutes denying welfare assistance to residents who had not lived resided their jurisdictions for at least one year immediately preceding such residents’ requests for assistance. The primary purpose for the waiting periods was to preserve the fiscal integrity of the Appellants’ public assistance programs (additional purposes are listed were relevant in the reasoning section below). Thus, the programs were targeted at keeping needy newcomers out on the theory that such persons were more likely to become continuing burdens on State welfare programs.

Issue. Did the laws restricting welfare benefits to those who had lived in a location for at least one year constitute a violation of equal protection?
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