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Welfare rights movement

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  1. Introduction
  2. The case of King v. Smith
    1. The success of the case
  3. The appropriate regulation
  4. Goldberg v. Kelly
    1. Significance of the case
  5. Shapiro v. Thompson
  6. Success of the welfare rights movement
  7. The achievements of King, Goldberg, and Shapiro
  8. Welfare plight of African American's
  9. Conclusion

The successes and failures of any rights movements can be defined by the victories and losses in the courtroom. The welfare rights movement had forward leaps and backward stumbles in its duration from 1960 to 1973 and Supreme Court cases to coincide. The movement's successes can be seen in King v. Smith, 392 U.S. 309 (1968), Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 (1970), and Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618 (1969) and its failures in Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471 (1970) and San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1 (1973). These court cases influenced the strength and direction of the welfare rights movements and continue to have further implications for overall contemporary issues of inequality.

Perhaps the first pertinent victory occurred with King v. Smith. The appellee was a single mother of four who received no support from her children's biological father and therefore qualified to receive benefits from the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). However, the appellee had a boyfriend that came and stayed at her home a couple days of the week. When her caseworker found out that she had a boyfriend, her aid was taken away because of an Alabama ?substitute father? regulation. 392 U.S., at 312. The court case was filed as a class action suit to counter the validity of the regulation.

[...] Shapiro was a great victory for the welfare rights movement because it served to establish welfare discrimination as an issue that is subject to the same strict scrutiny as race issues. With this case, the security that the Equal Protection Clause offers is extended beyond race into any fundamental right. Martha F. Davis, Brutal Need 80. By that logic, welfare was also identified as a fundamental right to be protected under the Equal Protection Clause. This opened up the door for citizens to begin defending their rights to welfare and to not be discriminated against because of it. [...]


[...] This Act was a positive move toward equality: minorities could move to wherever they want to. Developments like these have been the first step in striving for equality. Measures like affirmative action, once an exclusively white form of aid, have been influenced by welfare and civil rights movements to encompass all races and to attempt to eliminate discrimination. Despite the successes and failures of the welfare rights movement, economic inequality still resonates in today's world. Predatory lending and policy changes are undoing the protection that people of low economic status have. [...]


[...] This success of the welfare rights movement was made possible under the equal protection clause: people who are discriminated against based upon length of residency are entitled to equal protection as well. The court then looked at the statutes with skepticism and, like most laws under strict scrutiny, struck them down. The residency requirement to receive welfare benefits in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia failed the strict scrutiny test and therefore violated the constitutional right of people to travel or live where they want to live. [...]

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