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U.S. Supreme Court

United States Dept. of Agriculture v. Murry, 413 U.S. 508 (1973)

United States Dept. of Agriculture v. Murry

No. 72-848

Argued April 23, 1973

Decided June 25, 1973

413 U.S. 508


Appellees challenge the constitutionality of § 5(b) of the Food Stamp Act of 1964, as amended in 1971, providing that

"[a]ny household which includes a member who has reached his eighteenth birthday and who is claimed as a dependent child for Federal income tax purposes by a taxpayer who is not a member of an eligible household, shall be ineligible to participate in any food stamp program . . . during the tax period such dependency is claimed and for a period of one year after the expiration of such tax period."

This provision was generated by congressional concern over nonneedy households participating in the food stamp program, and abuses of the program by "college students" and "children of wealthy parents." The District Court held the provision unconstitutional, finding that it went far beyond the congressional goal, and operated inflexibly to deny stamps to households, containing no college students, that had established clear eligibility for stamps and remained in dire need, only because a member of the household 18 years or older is claimed by someone as a tax dependent.

Held: The tax deduction taken for the benefit of the parent in a prior year is not a rational measure of the need of a different household with which the child of the tax deducting parent lives, and the administration of the Act allows no hearing to show that the tax deduction is irrelevant to the need of the household. Section 5(b) therefore violates due process. Pp. 413 U. S. 511-514.

348 F.Supp. 242, affirmed.

DOUGLAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, and MARSHALL, JJ., joined. STEWART, J., post, p. 413 U. S. 514, and MARSHALL, J., post, p. 413 U. S. 517, filed concurring opinions. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 413 U. S. 520. REHNQUIST, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J.,and POWELL, J., joined, post, p. 413 U. S. 522. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 413 U. S. 509

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