Status accorded a person whose biological parents are not legally married to each other.
Because of the traditional moral and, by consequence, legal stigmatization of illegitimate births, children born outside of marriage
In 1968 the validity of a statutory classification based on marital status under the equal protection clause was challenged before the Supreme Court in Levy v. Louisiana
In a companion case, Glona v. American Guarantee and Liability Insurance Co.
In its next illegitimacy case, Labine v. Vincent
In Jiminez v. Weinberger
At issue in Trimble v. Gordon
Trimble’s small majority demonstrated the Court’s ambivalence regarding illegitimate children, which became clear in Lalli v. Lalli
Similarly, in Mathews v. Lucas
Although in a number of cases the Court stated that illegitimate children must not be given a lesser status because of their illegitimacy, it also made clear that their illegitimacy can justify certain qualifications of their rights in order to satisfy legitimate state interests. In examining questions regarding the status of illegitimate children, the Court must weigh the rights of the individual children born out of wedlock against society’s larger interests in protecting the family unit.
Ball, Howard. The Supreme Court in the Intimate Lives of Americans: Birth, Sex, Marriage, Childbearing, and Death. New York: New York University Press, 2002. Hoover, Sonja. Welfare Reform and States’ Efforts to Prevent Births Outside of Marriage. Denver, Colo.: National Conference of State Legislatures, 1998. Langerin-Falcon, Catherine. “Second Class Citizens?” The Humanist 58, no. 6 (November/December, 1991): 11-15. Nechyba, Thomas J. Social Approval, Values, and AFDC: A Re-examination of the Illegitimacy Debate. Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1999. Reekie, Gail. Measuring Immorality: Social Inquiry and the Problem of Illegitimacy. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Zingo, Martha. Nameless People: Legal Discrimination Against Non-Marital Children in the United States. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1994.
Equal protection clause
Family and children