• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that state agencies must provide welfare recipients with evidentiary hearings before ending their benefits.

In conformity with state law, New York welfare officials terminated the public assistance of a recipient, with notice that the action could be challenged in a posttermination hearing. By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court held that a recipient must have the right to a pretermination hearing. Although not requiring the hearing to be a formal judicial proceeding, Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.’sBrennan, William J., Jr.;Goldberg v. Kelly[Goldberg v. Kelly] majority opinion did specify that the recipient must be allowed to confront witnesses, to retain a lawyer, and to bring oral evidence before an impartial official. Brennan reasoned that a statutory entitlement to welfare was a form of property that helped poor people to survive and participate in the life of the community.Due process, procedural;Goldberg v. Kelly[Goldberg v. Kelly]

In subsequent decisions, the Court expanded the Goldberg principle to related situations. In Gross v. Lopez[case]Gross v. Lopez[Gross v. Lopez] (1975), for example, the Court held that suspension of students from public schools constituted deprivation of property within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In Mathews v. Eldridge[case]Mathews v. Eldridge[Mathews v. Eldridge] (1976), however, the Court shifted toward a balancing test when it approved of a policy of not providing opportunity for a hearing for recipients of Social Security disability payments before termination of benefits.

Due process, procedural

Fourteenth Amendment

Property rights

Categories: History