NCLEJ Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Goldberg v. Kelly, Landmark Supreme Court Victory
The Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 (1970), on March 23, 1970 – forty years ago – in a case brought by the National Center for Law and Economic Justice (then the Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law) and MFY Legal Services. NCLEJ argued the case in the Supreme Court.
In a profoundly moving decision by Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., the Court ruled that public agencies could not arbitrarily terminate vital public benefits until they had provided reasons and an opportunity to contest those reasons. This basic holding has been incorporated into the operations of many public programs and in the statutes governing them. It remains good law which we cite and rely upon today. While the holding remains good law, the sensibility of many courts has changed profoundly. Consider the following lines from Justice Brennan’s opinion:
Henry A. Freedman, Executive Director of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, was privileged to be a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow at the Center in 1967 where he had the opportunity to help draft the original papers and participate in the litigation. He suggests that persons interested in a fascinating account of the development of the case turn to Brutal Need by Martha Davis, written in 1993 and available through online booksellers.