Metcalf v. Swank

Ella Metcalf, Etc., et al., Plaintiffs-appellants, v. Harold O. Swank, Director, Illinois Department of Public Aid, et al., Defendants-appellees
444 F.2d 1353 (7th Cir. 1971), vacated, 406 U.S. 914 (1972) |
SCOTUS decided 1971-04-30
Jurisdiction level:

Expanded prior Supreme Court holding that exhaustion of administrative remedies was not required to bring a case in federal court challenging state welfare laws.

Result: Win
Importance:

Expanded prior Supreme Court holding that exhaustion of administrative remedies was not required to bring a case in federal court challenging state welfare laws. U.S. Supreme Court wrote: “Judgment vacated and case remanded for further consideration in light of Carter v. Stanton.”


Law type: Civil
Topic(s): Equal protection, Exhaustion of state administrative remedies, and Public assistance
State of origin: IL
Attorneys:

Gordon H.S. Scott, Robert W. Bennett, Thomas P. Humphrey, Chicago, Ill., for appellants.


Others involved:
Organization role: Sponsor

Last modified: 2020-04-09 11:54
Case internal grade: A | Case internal status: OK |
Case internal status notes: Fixed. AWH: Atty affiliations?
Collections:
Lists: Important cases and SCOTUS no opinion

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CASE DETAILS

(The syllabus is not part of the opinion, but is a summary prepared by the court reporter as a convenience.)

From U.S. Supreme Court, 406 U.S. 914

Certiori Granted–Vacated and remanded
No. 71-5515: Metcalf, et al. v. Swank, Director, Dept of Public Aid of Illinois, et al. C. A. 7th Cir. Motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and certiori granted. Judgment vacated and case remanded for further consideration in light of Carter v. Stanton, 405 U.S. 699.

The following 7th Circuit opinion was vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court

PELL, Circuit Judge.

This class action was brought pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, on behalf of all recipients of public aid in Illinois who are members of a family unit of two or more which pays more than $90.00 per month residence rental but receives $90.00 or less per month as a shelter allowance from the Illinois and the Cook County, Illinois, Departments of Public Aid.[2] Defendants are the respective directors of the departments and are charged by law with the enforcement of the Illinois Public Aid Code.

Section 12-4.11 of the Illinois Public Aid Code, Ill.Rev.Stat.1967, ch. 23, § 12-4.11, deals with public assistance shelter allowances and provides, in relevant part: “[T]he shelter standard for any recipient, exclusive of household furnishings and utilities, shall not exceed $90.00 per month, except for adjustments made in the manner authorized by § 12-14.” Section 12-14, Ill.Rev.Stat.1967, ch. 23, § 12-14, provides that the Illinois Department of Public Aid may, after consultation with the Legislative Advisory Committee on Public Aid, authorize “deviations” from the $90.00 per month limitation.

Plaintiffs originally challenged the constitutionality of these provisions on their face. On November 12, 1968, a three judge court issued its opinion finding the statute constitutional on its face. Metcalf v. Swank, 293 F.Supp. 268 (N.D. Ill.1968). The court found that “the arbitrary nature of a flat maximum” was avoided in the statute by its provision for exceptions to the $90.00 maximum.[3] The court further construed the statute to require the granting of such exceptions whenever necessary to “provide a livelihood compatible with health and well-being,” as stated in section 12-4.11. Having reached this conclusion, the three judge court remanded the case to a single judge for resolution of any factual questions that might remain.

1355
*1355 Plaintiffs did not appeal the decision of the three judge court but rather filed an amended complaint before the single district judge. Count I of the amended complaint renewed the challenge to the statute on its face. Count II challenged the statutory provisions as applied. Count III challenged the provisions on state law grounds.

Count I was dismissed because previously decided by the three judge court. Count III was dismissed for want of pendent jurisdiction following the dismissal of Count II with which we are primarily concerned.

The district court dismissed Count II “for failure to exhaust available state administrative remedies * * *,” and because it stated no “substantial constitutional claim [to] * * * justify the assumption of jurisdiction * * * absent exhaustion of available state administrative remedies.” It is from this dismissal that plaintiffs appeal.

On this appeal, plaintiffs contend that exhaustion of state remedies is never required in actions brought pursuant to the Civil Rights Act. Alternatively, they assert that if exhaustion is sometimes required, this is not a proper case for the imposition of such a requirement.
***
Count I was dismissed because previously decided by the three judge court. Count III was dismissed for want of pendent jurisdiction following the dismissal of Count II with which we are primarily concerned.

The district court dismissed Count II “for failure to exhaust available state administrative remedies * * *,” and because it stated no “substantial constitutional claim [to] * * * justify the assumption of jurisdiction * * * absent exhaustion of available state administrative remedies.” It is from this dismissal that plaintiffs appeal.
***
Thus, it was also proper to dismiss Count II for failure to state a cause of action.

Counts I and III were properly dismissed for the reasons given by the trial court.

Accordingly, the decision of the trial court is affirmed in all respects.

Affirmed.