Moment in History

The Child Welfare League of America files one of two Supreme Court amici briefs (the other by the NAACP) challenging Alabama’s and other state’s “man-in-the-house” AFDC restriction. The rule cut off assistance to families where the mother was “cohabiting” with a man. In the state of Alabama, between 1964 and 1967, 16,000 children had been denied AFDC benefits. The Supreme Court rejected the policy in King V Smith in June 1968.

Chief Justice Earl Warren in writing for the majority opinion striking down the Man-in-the-house rule, stated,

“Alabama’s substitute father regulation, as written and as applied in this case, requires the disqualification of otherwise eligible dependent children if their mother “cohabits” with a man who is not obligated by Alabama law to support the children…

The causes of and cures for poverty are currently the subject of much debate. We hold today only that Congress has made at least this one determination: that destitute children who are legally fatherless cannot be flatly denied federally funded assistance on the transparent fiction that they have a substitute father…”

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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