Family Law - Stein - Fall 2003

Family Law - Stein - Fall 2003 - I...

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1 I. Defining “Family” A. It is Unconstitutional to Limit the Family Members Who Can Live Together In Moore v. East Cleveland (USSC 1977 – Page ___), a grandmother was living with two sets of grandchildren and this violated a housing ordinance that specifically defined what family members could live in a single-family home. The Court said that the constitution protects the sanctity of families because families are “deeply rooted in our nation’s history,” so the State must have a really good reason to intrude on the family. Thus, they said that the ordinance was an unconstitutional intrusion into the family and right to free association (Due Process violation). The dissent said that the due process clause does not give you a right to live with two sets of grandchildren – question whether this is the correct way to frame the issue… B. Functional Test for Defining Family Versus the Traditional Test s Traditional test = people related by blood, marriage or adoption. s Functional test = if it walks like a family and it quacks like a family…it’s a family. I.e. look at the details of their relationship and interaction and the way they are treated and viewed by the outside world. The traditional test provides a clearer line so it is easier to apply, but the line is arbitrary. Also the traditional test excludes some families that we might want to include – like same sex couples or step children – and the functional test is more flexible. In Braschi (Page 954), the same-sex partner of decedent wanted to stay in their rent stabilized apartment (that had been in his partner’s name). Statutes said that family members could stay, but the landlord said that Braschi was not a family member. The court employed the functional test and decided that they were family, so he could stay. C. Housing Agencies Can’t Deny Vouchers to People Just Because They Aren’t Married Hann v. Housing Authority of the City of Easton (Page 934). The Housing Authority of the city of Easton was a public housing agency that operated low income housing units and was responsible for determining eligibility for participation in the rent subsidy program. Cindy Hann lived with James Webster, to whom she was not married, and their two minor children in an apartment complex from which all the tenants were being evicted. HACE announced that it would issue housing vouchers to eligible applicants, including families, who were being evicted. Hann’s application for a voucher was rejected because she and Webster were not married and HACE had determined that unmarried cohabitation was immoral. Hann sued to obtain a voucher.
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2 The court held that local housing authorities cannot deny an application for low income housing assistance solely on the basis that the applicants are not married but cohabitated. Rather, they must make individual determinations about applicants’ status as a “family.” Note that the purpose of the federal act that provides funding for the voucher program
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Family Law - Stein - Fall 2003 - I...

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