Moreover, as we have noted above, the 1994 amendments appear to make § 402(x) broader and more consistent, and less focused on the question of blame. If anything, the provision as it now stands appears less discriminatory than it did before the 1994 amendments.
Although Congress could extend the exclusions of § 402(x) to cover those who are civilly committed, the fact that it has not done so does not invalidate the current statute. As defendants have pointed out, Congress may have believed that extending the exclusion to all persons committed at public expense would be too difficult to implement effectively. A great variety of individuals have been committed to public institutions for a great variety of reasons, and the length of commitment varies from person to person and from state to state. Congress could reasonably have found that criminally insane individuals who are alleged to have committed felonies are likely to be confined in public institutions for a fairly long time. The expected length of incarceration, combined with the relative ease of identifying individuals who are committed by way of the criminal justice system, may justify the administrative burden of temporarily suspending their benefits. Such may not be the case with those who are civilly committed. Of course, it is impossible to discern whether Congress actually took these issues into account. Very possibly the question of suspending benefits for the civilly committed never arose. But we must uphold the statute so long as there is any conceivable rational basis for the classifications it makes. See Heller v. Doe by Doe, 509 U.S. 312, 320, 125 L. Ed. 2d 257, 113 S. Ct. 2637 (1993). We need not ponder the difficult question of whether the proffered reason for the classification is one that actually motivated the Congress.
In upholding the statute, we note that the 1994 amendments go no further than is necessary to accomplish the statute's fiscal goals. Benefits are only suspended while the individual is confined at public expense. They are reinstated the month after his or her release, even if he or she is still under correctional supervision. Finally, the exclusion does not extend to dependents of the individual whose benefits have been suspended. 42 U.S.C. § 402(x)(2). Although 42 U.S.C. § 402(x)(1)(A)(2) is not perfect, it is not unconstitutional.
For the foregoing reasons, defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted, and plaintiffs' is denied.
JAMES B. MORAN
Senior Judge, U.S. District Court
July 21, 1997.
JUDGMENT IN A CIVIL CASE
Decision by Court. This action came to trial or hearing before the Court. The issues have been tried or heard and a decision has been rendered.
IT IS ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the court enters judgment on the pleadings in favor of the defendant, JOHN J. CALLAHAN and against the plaintiffs, JACQUELINE MILNER ET AL. ETC.
July 21, 1997