Law School Case Brief
Linda R. S. v. Richard D - 410 U.S. 614, 93 S. Ct. 1146 (1973)
A plaintiff must show that the facts alleged present the court with a case or controversy in the constitutional sense and that she is a proper plaintiff to raise the issues sought to be litigated. The threshold question which must be answered is whether the plaintiff has alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which a court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.
Plaintiff Linda, the mother of an illegitimate child, brought a class action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, seeking an injunction against the discriminatory application of a Texas criminal statute, Tex. Penal Code Ann. art. 602, making a parent's wilful desertion, neglect, or refusal to provide for the support and maintenance of a child under 18 a misdemeanor punishable by not more than two years' confinement in a county jail. Although Tex. Penal Code Ann. art. 602 made no distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children, the Texas courts had consistently construed it to apply solely to the parents of legitimate children and to impose no duty of support on the parents of illegitimate children. The district attorney had therefore refused, on the mother's complaint, to institute an action against Richard, the child's father, although similar actions had been instituted against fathers of legitimate children by various state officials in the past. the mother argued that such an interpretation of the statute discriminated between legitimate and illegitimate children without rational foundation and therefore violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. A three-judge District Court panel dismissed the action for lack of standing.
Did a mother of an illegitimate child make as sufficient showing of a direct connection between the vindication in her interest in her child and the enforcement of Tex. Penal Code Ann. art. 602 such that the enforcement of the statute violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?
The United States Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the action and held that mother failed to allege a sufficient nexus between her injury and the government action she attacked to justify judicial intervention. The Court determined that mother made no showing that her failure to secure support payments resulted from the nonenforcement of art. 602. The Court concluded that mother made an insufficient showing of a direct connection between the vindication in her interest in her child and the enforcement of state criminal law.
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