Harris v. McRae

448 U.S. 297, 100 S. Ct. 2671 (1980)



Where a statutory classification does not itself impinge on a right or liberty protected by the U.S. Constitution, the validity of classification must be sustained unless the classification rests on grounds wholly irrelevant to the achievement of any legitimate governmental objective. This presumption of constitutional validity, however, disappears if a statutory classification is predicated on criteria that are, in a constitutional sense, "suspect," the principal example of which is a classification based on race.


Appellees, a class of pregnant women, sought an injunction to prohibited enforcement of the Hyde Amendment to the Medicaid Act, Title XIX of the Social Security Act, arguing that it contravened the equal protection guarantees of the Due Process Clause, under U.S. Const. amend V, and the Religion Clauses, under U.S. Const. amend. I, by denying public funding for medically necessary abortions. The district court invalidated the amendment. The government sought review by the court. The court reversed.


Does the Hyde Amendment denying public funding for certain medically necessary abortions violate any substantive rights secured by the Constitution?




Title XIX did not require a participating state to pay for medically necessary abortions for which federal reimbursement was unavailable under the Hyde Amendment. The court held that the funding restrictions of the Hyde Amendment did not violate U.S. Const. amends. IV. Appellees lacked standing to raise a challenge to the Hyde Amendment under the Free Exercise Clause of U.S. Const. amend. I. The Due Process Clause did not confer an entitlement to funds in order to obtain an abortion or any other protected right. The fact that the funding restrictions coincided with the religious tenets of the Roman Catholic Church did not, without more, contravene the Establishment Clause.

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