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Harris v. Rosario

Supreme Court of the United States

May 27, 1980, Decided

No. 79-1294

Opinion

 [*651]   ] The Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (AFDC), 49 Stat. 627, as  [**1930]  amended, 42 U. S. C. § 601 et seq., provides federal financial assistance to States and Territories to aid families with needy dependent children. Puerto Rico receives less assistance than do the States, 42 U. S. C. §§ 1308 (a)(1), 1396d (b) (1976 ed. and Supp. II). Appellees, AFDC recipients residing in Puerto Rico, filed this class action against the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (now the Secretary [****2]  of Health and Human Services) in March 1977 in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico; they challenged the constitutionality of 42 U. S. C. §§ 1308 and 1396d (b), claiming successfully that the lower level of AFDC reimbursement provided to Puerto Rico violates the Fifth Amendment's equal protection guarantee.

 We disagree. ] Congress, which is empowered under the Territory Clause of the Constitution, U.S. Const., Art. IV, § 3, cl. 2, to "make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory . . . belonging to the United States," may treat Puerto Rico differently from States so long as there is a  [*652]  rational basis for its actions. In Califano v. Torres, 435 U.S. 1 (1978) (per curiam), ] we concluded that a similar statutory classification was rationally grounded on three factors: Puerto Rican residents do not contribute to the federal treasury; the cost of treating Puerto Rico as a State under the statute would be high; and greater benefits could disrupt the Puerto Rican economy. These same considerations are forwarded here in support of §§ 1308 and 1396d (b), Juris. Statement 12-14, 1 and we see no reason to depart [****3]  from our conclusion in Torres that they suffice to form a rational basis for the challenged statutory classification.

We reverse.

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446 U.S. 651 *; 100 S. Ct. 1929 **; 64 L. Ed. 2d 587 ***; 1980 U.S. LEXIS 106 ****

HARRIS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES v. ROSARIO ET AL.

Subsequent History:  [****1]  Petition for Rehearing Denied August 11, 1980.

Prior History: ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO.

Disposition: Reversed.

CORE TERMS

residing, rational basis, benefits

Family Law, Adoption, Adoption Assistance & Child Welfare Act, Public Health & Welfare Law, Assistance to Families, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, General Overview, Social Security, Constitutional Law, Relations Among Governments, Federal Territory & New States, Equal Protection, Nature & Scope of Protection, Judicial Review, Standards of Review