CALIFANO V. BOLES, 443 U. S. 282 (1979)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Califano v. Boles, 443 U.S. 282 (1979)

Califano v. Boles

No. 78-808

Argued April 25, 1979

Decided June 27, 1979

443 U.S. 282


Held: Section 202(g)(1) of the Social Security Act restricting "mother's insurance benefits" to widows and divorced wives of wage earners does not violate the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment by thus denying such benefits to the mother of an illegitimate child because she was never married to the wage earner who fathered the child. Pp. 443 U. S. 288-297.

(a) Such denial bears a rational relation to the Government's desire to ease the economic dislocation that occurs when the wage earner dies and the surviving parent is left with the choice to stay home and care for the children or to go to work. Congress could reasonably conclude that a woman who never married the wage earner is far less likely than one who did to be dependent upon the wage earner at the time of his death. Pp. 443 U. S. 288-293.

(b) The incidental and, to a large degree, speculative impact of § 202(g)(1) on illegitimate children as a class is not sufficient to treat the denial of "mother's insurance benefits" to unwed mothers as discrimination against the children. The focus of these benefits is on the economic dilemma of the surviving spouse or former spouse, whereas the needs, as such, of the minor children of the deceased wage earner are addressed through the separate "child's insurance benefits" provided by the Act. Pp. 443 U. S. 293-296.

464 F.Supp. 408, reversed.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and STEWART, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined, post, p. 443 U. S. 297.

Page 443 U. S. 283

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