may be claimed on behalf of an otherwise qualified needy child
who is under the age of twenty-one and regularly attending a
recognized college or vocational school.
42 U.S.C. § 606(a)(2)(B). The Secretary has approved Illinois' AFDC plan,
which authorizes student benefits under § 4 — 1.1 of the
Public Aid Code, Ill.Rev.Stat., Ch. 23, § 4 — 1.1 (Smith-Hurd
Supp. 1973-74). Plaintiffs herein are a mother and son whose
Illinois AFDC benefits were terminated in 1972 when the son
attained the age of twenty-one. Their amended complaint asserts
that the state and federal AFDC statutes which require the
termination of student benefits at age twenty-one deny them
equal protection and due process of law because similarly
situated students who are qualified to claim benefits under the
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) title to
the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401-431, may do so until
age twenty-two. We disagree and find that the challenged
legislative distinctions comport with the constitutional
requirements of equal protection and due process of law.
Counsel have devoted considerable energy to the discussion
of this court's jurisdiction. Clearly, a three-judge court is
both appropriate and has the power to hear the claims against
the state defendants because the amended complaint seeks to
enjoin the operation of a state statute on the grounds of
unconstitutionality. 28 U.S.C. § 2281, § 1343(3) and (4).
Moreover, since the Illinois statute embodies the same
eligibility standards as the Social Security Act, this case
cannot be decided by a single judge on the basis of the
supremacy clause alone, rendering it necessary for a
three-judge panel to consider the due process and equal
protection claims. Wyman v. Rothstein, 398 U.S. 275, 276, 90
S.Ct. 1582, 26 L.Ed.2d 218 (1970); Rosado v. Wyman,
397 U.S. 397, 403, 90 S.Ct. 1207, 25 L.Ed.2d 442 (1970); Dandridge v.
Williams, 397 U.S. 471, 475-476, 90 S.Ct. 1153, 25 L.Ed.2d 491
(1970). With respect to the federal defendant, however, we find
jurisdiction to be lacking under any of the six statutes cited
in support thereof.
First, although their amended complaint avers that the
amount in controversy exceeds $10,000, the named plaintiffs
concede that their individual maximum monetary recovery is
$1,926.60. They, nevertheless, assert that federal question
jurisdiction may be established under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 by
aggregating the monetary claims of the individual members of
the class they seek to represent. But, even if we were to allow
this case to proceed as a class action, such aggregation is
impermissible in order to establish federal question
jurisdiction. Snyder v. Harris, 394 U.S. 332, 89 S.Ct. 1053, 22
L.Ed.2d 319 (1969); Russo v. Kirby, 453 F.2d 548 (2d Cir.
1971); Gibson v. First Federal Savings & Loan Ass'n,
347 F. Supp. 560 (E.D.Mich. 1972); Booth v. Lemont Mfg. Corp.,
304 F. Supp. 235 (N.D.Ill. 1969), aff'd on other grounds,
440 F.2d 385 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 404 U.S. 916, 92 S.Ct. 231, 30
L.Ed.2d 190 (1971).
Second, since this action does not involve the validity,
construction, or enforcement of a statute regulating commerce,
jurisdiction over this case cannot be predicated upon
28 U.S.C. § 1337. Russo v. Kirby, supra, 453 F.2d at 551; Adams v.
Int'l Brotherhood of Boilermakers, 262 F.2d 835 (10th Cir.
1959). Third, jurisdiction over the federal defendant cannot be
sustained under 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3) and (4) "because that
section provides a federal forum without regard to
jurisdictional amount only when constitutional rights allegedly
have been violated by those acting under color of State law."
Stinson v. Finch, 317 F. Supp. 581 at 585 (N.D.Ga. 1970).
Next, jurisdiction over the federal defendant is lacking
under 28 U.S.C. § 1346(a)(2) for two reasons, First, the
jurisdiction of a district court under this section is
concurrent with the Court of Claims, which has no equity
power. Thus, it is impossible under § 1346(a)(2) to grant the
equitable relief sought against the Secretary. Richardson v.
Morris, 409 U.S. 464, 93 S.Ct. 629, 34 L.Ed.2d 647 (1973).
Moreover, since plaintiffs' rights to receive benefits arises
under the Illinois Public Aid Code, their claim for damages
cannot be characterized as an action against the United States,
as is required by § 1346(a)(2).
Fifth, jurisdiction over the federal defendant is predicated
upon the mandamus provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1361. Plaintiffs
assert that the Secretary owes them a constitutional duty under
the fifth amendment to approve only those state AFDC plans
which entitle them to receive benefits until they reach the age
of twenty-two. However, plaintiffs overlook the well-settled
rule that the extraordinary remedy of mandamus is available
only when (1) plaintiffs have a clear right to the relief
sought; (2) defendant owes them a plainly defined and
peremptory duty; and (3) no other adequate remedy is available.
United States ex rel. Girard Trust Co. v. Helvering,
301 U.S. 540, 543-544, 57 S.Ct. 855, 81 L.Ed. 1272 (1937); Lovallo v.
Froehlke, 468 F.2d 340, 343 (2d Cir. 1972); Carter v. Seamans,
411 F.2d 767 (5th Cir. 1969), cert. denied, 397 U.S. 941, 90
S.Ct. 953, 25 L.Ed.2d 121 (1970). Without even reaching the
substantial problems of plaintiffs' standing to maintain a
mandamus suit against the Secretary and of the doctrine of
sovereign immunity, it is clear that plaintiffs' remedy against
the state officials is adequate to determine the
constitutionality of this statute and the propriety of the
relief to be granted, if any.
Finally, it is well-established that an action for
declaratory relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2201 cannot be entertained
in the absence of independent federal jurisdictional grounds.
Skelly Oil Co. v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 339 U.S. 667, 70
S.Ct. 876, 94 L.Ed. 1194 (1950); Fagan v. Schroeder,
284 F.2d 666 (7th Cir. 1960). Therefore, since plaintiffs have failed to
demonstrate an independent basis for this court's jurisdiction,
the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare shall be
dismissed from this case.
III. The Merits
This suit challenges the constitutionality of a legislative
distinction contained in both federal and state social welfare
statutes, which allegedly deny plaintiffs their rights to
equal protection. In considering the merits of this claim, we
must begin with the proposition that a statutory
classification in the area of social welfare is constitutional
if it bears a rational relationship to one of the purposes of
the Social Security Act. Richardson v. Belcher, 404 U.S. 78,
92 S.Ct. 254, 30 L.Ed.2d 231 (1971); Dandridge v. Williams,
supra. Moreover, the purpose need not have been a principal
objective of the statute or even one that the legislators had
in mind when they passed it. Flemming v. Nestor, 363 U.S. 603,
612, 80 S.Ct. 1367, 4 L.Ed.2d 1435 (1960). Thus, even though
the general objectives of both AFDC and OASDI may be the same,
i.e., to enable children deprived of parental support to
continue their education, the distinction must nevertheless be
upheld if it serves some other, albeit secondary, purpose of
the Social Security Act.
Defendants assert that the distinct and separate nature of
each program adequately justifies the challenged age
distinction. Thus, even though OASDI and AFDC are parts of the
same statute and administered by the same agency, they are
otherwise wholly independent from one another in all material
respects. For example, OASDI is funded through the
contributions of participating employers and employees, the
latter of whom receive benefits based on the number of
calendar quarters they have participated in the plan. Persons
entitled to receive OASDI include the wage earner, his wife,
children, and parents. 42 U.S.C. § 402. The Social Security
Administration is entirely responsible for determining one's
eligibility for OASDI, computing
the amount of benefits in each case, and paying these benefits
in accordance with strictly federal standards.
In contrast, AFDC is purely a public welfare scheme that was
intended to help one class of beneficiaries — needy dependent
children. The program is financed solely from the general tax
revenues of the federal government and the participating
states, which are entitled to receive federal matching funds
only if their local AFDC plans are approved by the Secretary of
Health, Education and Welfare. AFDC benefits are paid to
eligible individuals by local state agencies and, unlike the
uniform schedule of benefits under OASDI, the amounts payable
under AFDC may vary from state to state. Jefferson v. Hackney,
406 U.S. 535, 92 S.Ct. 1724, 32 L.Ed.2d 285 (1972); Dandridge
v. Williams, supra.
Thus, although we recognize certain similarities between
these two titles of the Social Security Act, nothing in their
legislative history or in the statute itself suggests that
they were intended to be independent. Nor does the
Constitution require that these titles be interdependent
simply because plaintiffs' class of full-time students may be
in greater need of assistance than those who are entitled to
receive OASDI benefits. Such considerations are relevant only
to the legislature's wisdom in creating the age distinction
and not its power to do so, which is the only question
properly before this court today. Dandridge v. Williams,
supra, 397 U.S. at 486, 90 S.Ct. 1153; Flemming v. Nestor,
supra 363 U.S. at 611, 80 S.Ct. 1367. In one sense OASDI and
AFDC are simply alternative solutions to the common problem of
financing the higher education of children who have lost their
natural source of support. But, their separate and distinct
funding methods, eligibility standards, and administration
demonstrate that OASDI and AFDC also differ in many substantive
respects. Under these circumstances we find the challenged age
distinction to be rational and uphold its constitutionality. As
stated by the Supreme Court in Jefferson v. Hackney, supra, 406
U.S. at 546-547, 92 S.Ct. at 1731:
So long as its judgments are rational, and not
invidious, the legislature's efforts to tackle
the problems of the poor and the needy are not
subject to a constitutional straitjacket. The
very complexity of the problem suggests that
there will be more than one constitutionally
permissible method of solving them.
Such is the case here.
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