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[Cite as Moore v. City of East Cleveland, 431
U.S. 494, 502, 542-543 (1976). Note: This decision concerns a housing
ordinance limiting the number and relation of residents. The Court held the
ordinance infringed rights federally protected from local action by the
Fourteenth Amendment. The majority opinion quoted Poe at 543 where
Justice Harlan mentioned the right to arms amongst other rights of the first
eight amendments as examples of "liberty". (P. 502) Justice
White quoted the same passage in his dissent (P. 542-543) and
referred to the majority's quotation for the proposition that it "most
accurately reflects the thrust of prior decisions [concerning] a wide range of
freedoms". (P. 545) Justice
Powell's majority opinion referred to Justice White's reference (to the majority
quotation of Harlan in Poe) for the point that this very passage goes
further and "expressely points to history and tradition as the source for" this
conception of rights. (P. 503-504
n.12) This decision is similar to Griswold v.
Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 488, 490-493 (1965)
(repeated references to the first eight amendments to the Constitution in
similar terms of individual right) and Robertson v.
Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275, 281-282 (1897) (cited
MOORE v. CITY OF EAST CLEVELAND, OHIO
APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS OF OHIO, CUYAHOGA
No. 75-6289. Argued November 2, 1976--Decided May
Appellant lives in her East Cleveland, Ohio, home
with her son and two grandsons (who are first cousins). An East Cleveland
housing ordinance limits occupancy of a dwelling unit to members of a single
family, but defines "family" in such a way that appellant's household does not
qualify. Appellant was convicted of a criminal violation of the ordinance. Her
conviction was upheld on appeal over her claim that the ordinance is
unconstitutional. Appellee city contends that the ordinance should be sustained
under Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas, 416 U.S. 1,
which upheld an ordinance imposing limits on the types of groups that could
occupy a single dwelling unit. Held: The judgment is reversed. Pp. 498-506;
Mr. Justice Powell, joined
by Mr. Justice Brennan, Mr. Justice
Marshall, and Mr. Justice Blackmun, concluded
that the ordinance deprived appellant of her liberty in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
(a) This case is distinguishable from Belle
Terre, supra, where the ordinance affected only unrelated
individuals. The ordinance here expressly selects certain categories of
relatives who may live together and declares that others may not, in this
instance making it a crime for a grandmother to live with her grandson. Pp. 498-499.
(b) When the government intrudes on choices
concerning family living arrangements, the usual deference to the legislature is
inappropriate; and the Court must examine carefully the importance of the
governmental interests advanced and the extent to which they are served by the
challenged regulation. P. 499.
(c) The ordinance at best has but a tenuous
relationship to the objectives cited by the city: avoiding overcrowding, traffic
congestion, and an undue financial burden on the school system. Pp. 499-500.
(d) The strong constitutional protection of the
sanctity of the family established in numerous decisions of this Court extends
to the family choice involved in this case and is not confined within an
arbitrary boundary drawn at the limits of the nuclear family (essentially a
couple (p.495)and their dependent children).
Appropriate limits on substantive due process come not from drawing arbitrary
lines but from careful "respect for the teachings of history [and] solid
recognition of the basic values that underlie our society." Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 501 (Harlan,
J., concurring). The history and tradition of this Nation compel a larger
conception of the family. Pp. 500-506.
Mr. Justice Stevens
concluded that under the limited standard of review preserved in Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365, and Nectow v. Cambridge, 277 U.S. 183, before a zoning
ordinance can be declared unconstitutional it must be shown to be clearly
arbitrary and unreasonable as having no substantial relation to the public
health, safety, morals, or general welfare; that appellee city has failed
totally to explain the need for a rule that would allow a homeowner to have
grandchildren live with her if they are brothers but not if they are cousins;
and that under that standard appellee city's unprecedented ordinance constitutes
a taking of property without due process and without just compensation. Pp. 513-521.
Powell, J., announced the
judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion in which Brennan, Marshall, and Blackmun, JJ., joined. Brennan, J.,
filed a concurring opinion, in which Marshall, J.,
joined, post, p. 506. Stevens, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment,
post, p. 513. Burger, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 521. Stewart, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Rehnquist, J., joined, post, p. 531. White, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 541.
Edward R. Stege, Jr., argued the cause for
appellant. With him on the brief were Francis D. Murtaugh, Jr., and
Lloyd B. Snyder.
Leonard Young argued the cause for appellee. With him on the
brief was Henry B. Fischer.[494.*]
Mr. Justice Powell
announced the judgment of the Court, and delivered an opinion in which Mr. Justice Brennan, Mr. Justice
Marshall, and Mr. Justice Blackmun joined.
East Cleveland's housing ordinance, like many throughout the country,
limits occupancy of a dwelling unit to members (p.496)of a single family. § 1351.02.[496.1]
But the ordinance contains an unusual and complicated definitional section that
recognizes as a "family" only a few categories of related individuals. § 1341.08.[496.2]
Because her family, living together in her home, fits none of those categories,
appellant stands convicted of a criminal offense. The question in this case is
whether the ordinance violates the Due Process Clause of the
Appellant, Mrs. Inez Moore, lives in her East
Cleveland home together with her son, Dale Moore, Sr., and her two grandsons,
Dale, Jr., and John Moore, Jr. The two boys are first cousins rather than
brothers; we are told that John (p.497)came to
live with his grandmother and with the elder and younger Dale Moores after his
In early 1973, Mrs. Moore received a notice of violation from the
city, stating that John was an "illegal occupant" and directing her to comply
with the ordinance. When she failed to remove him from her home, the city filed
a criminal charge. Mrs. Moore moved to dismiss, claiming that the ordinance was
constitutionally invalid on its face. Her motion was overruled, and upon
conviction she was sentenced to five days in jail and a $25 fine. The Ohio Court
of Appeals affirmed after giving full consideration to her constitutional
claims,[497.5] (p.498)and the Ohio
Supreme Court denied review. We noted probable jurisdiction of her appeal, 425 U.S. 949 (1976).
The city argues that our decision in Village of
Belle Terre v. Boraas, 416 U.S. 1 (1974), requires
us to sustain the ordinance attacked here. Belle Terre, like East Cleveland,
imposed limits on the types of groups that could occupy a single dwelling unit.
Applying the constitutional standard announced in this Court's leading land-use
case, Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365
(1926),[498.6] We sustained the Belle Terre ordinance on the ground
that it bore a rational relationship to permissible state objectives.
But one overriding factor sets this case apart from Belle
Terre. The ordinance there affected only unrelated individuals. It
expressly allowed all who were related by "blood, adoption, or marriage" to live
together, and in sustaining the ordinance we were careful to note that it
promoted "family needs" and "family values." 416 U.S., at
9. East Cleveland, in contrast, has chosen to regulate the occupancy of
its housing by slicing deeply into the family itself. This is no mere incidental
result of the ordinance. On its face it selects certain (p.499)categories of relatives who may live together and
declares that others may not. In particular, it makes a crime of a grandmother's
choice to live with her grandson in circumstances like those presented here.
When a city undertakes such intrusive regulation of the family,
neither Belle Terre nor Euclid governs; the usual judicial
deference to the legislature is inappropriate. "This Court has long recognized
that freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of
the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."
Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur, 414 U.S. 632,
639-640 (1974). A host of cases, tracing their lineage to Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399-401 (1923), and Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-535
(1925), have consistently acknowledged a "private realm of family life
which the state cannot enter." Prince v. Massachusetts, 321
U.S. 158, 166 (1944). See, e.g., Roe v. Wade,
410 U.S. 113, 152-153 (1973); Wisconsin v. Yoder,
406 U.S. 205, 231-233 (1972); Stanley v. Illinois,
405 U.S. 645, 651 (1972); Ginsberg v. New York, 390
U.S. 629, 639 (1968); Griswold v. Connecticut, 381
U.S. 479 (1965);
id., at 495-496
(Goldberg, J., concurring); id., at 502-503 (White, J., concurring); Poe v. Ullman,
367 U.S. 497, 542-544, 549-553 (1961)
(Harlan, J., dissenting); cf. Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S.
1, 12 (1967); May v. Anderson, 345 U.S. 528, 533
(1953); Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson, 316
U.S. 535, 541 (1942). Of course, the family is not beyond regulation. See
Prince v. Massachusetts, supra, at 166. But
when the government intrudes on choices concerning family living arrangements,
this Court must examine carefully the importance of the governmental interests
advanced and the extent to which they are served by the challenged regulation.
See Poe v. Ullman, supra, at 554 (Harlan,
When thus examined, this ordinance cannot survive. The city seeks to
justify it as a means of preventing overcrowding, (p.500)minimizing traffic and parking congestion, and avoiding
an undue financial burden on East Cleveland's school system. Although these are
legitimate goals, the ordinance before us serves them marginally, at best.[500.7]
For example, the ordinance permits any family consisting only of husband, wife,
and unmarried children to live together, even if the family contains a half
dozen licensed drivers, each with his or her own car. At the same time it
forbids an adult brother and sister to share a household, even if both
faithfully use public transportation. The ordinance would permit a grandmother
to live with a single dependent son and children, even if his school-age
children number a dozen, yet it forces Mrs. Moore to find another dwelling for
her grandson John, simply because of the presence of his uncle and cousin in the
same household. We need not labor the point. Section
1341.08 has but a tenuous relation to alleviation of the conditions
mentioned by the city.
The city would distinguish the cases based on
Meyer and Pierce. It points out that none of them "gives
grandmothers any fundamental rights with respect to grandsons," Brief for Appellee 18, and suggests that any constitutional right
to live together as a family extends only to the nuclear family--essentially a
couple and their dependent children.
To be sure, these cases did not expressly consider the family
relationship presented here. They were immediately concerned with freedom of
choice with respect to childbearing, e.g., LaFleur, Roe v.
Wade, Griswold, supra, or with the rights [paragraph
continues next page]
[Currently at pages 494-500.
Proceed to pages 501-502.
Proceed to pages
pages 541-552 (White
[494.*] Melvin L. Wulf and Benjamin Sheerer filed
a brief for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. as amici
[496.1] All citations by section number refer to the Housing
Code of the city of East Cleveland, Ohio.
[496.2] Section 1341.08 (1966)
"'Family' means a number of individuals
related to the nominal head of the household or to the spouse of the nominal
head of the household living as a single housekeeping unit in a single
dwelling unit, but limited to the following:
"(a) Husband or wife of the nominal head of
"(b) Unmarried children of the nominal head of
the household or of the spouse of the nominal head of the household, provided,
however, that such unmarried children have no children residing with them.
"(c) Father or mother of the nominal head of
the household or of the spouse of the nominal head of the household.
"(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of
subsection (b) hereof, a family may include not more than one dependent
married or unmarried child of the nominal head of the household or of the
spouse of the nominal head of the household and the spouse and dependent
children of such dependent child. For the purpose of this subsection, a
dependent person is one who has more than fifty percent of his total support
furnished for him by the nominal head of the household and the spouse of the
nominal head of the household.
"(e) A family may consist of one
[496.3] Appellant also claims that the ordinance contravenes
the Equal Protection Clause, but it is not necessary for us to reach that
[497.4] Brief for Appellant 4, 25. John's
father, John Moore, Sr., has apparently been living with the family at least
since the time of trial. Whether he was living there when the citation was
issued is in dispute. Under the ordinance his presence too probably would be a
violation. But we take the case as the city has framed it. The citation that led
to prosecution recited only that John Moore, Jr., was in the home in violation
of the ordinance.
[497.5] The dissenting opinion of The Chief
Justice suggests that Mrs. Moore should be denied a hearing in this Court
because she failed to seek discretionary administrative relief in the form of a
variance, relief that is no longer available. There are sound reasons for
requiring exhaustion of administrative remedies in some situations, but such a
requirement is wholly inappropriate where the party is a criminal
defendant in circumstances like those present here. See generally McKart v. United States, 395 U.S. 185 (1969). Mrs. Moore
defends against the State's prosecution on the ground that the ordinance is
facially invalid, an issue that the zoning review board lacks competency to
resolve. In any event, this Court has never held that a general principle of
exhaustion could foreclose a criminal defendant from asserting constitutional
invalidity of the statute under which she is being prosecuted. See, e.g.,
Yakus v. United States, 321 U.S. 414, 446-447
Moreover, those cases that have denied certain nonconstitutional
defenses to criminal defendants for failure to exhaust remedies did so pursuant
to statutes that implicitly or explicitly mandated such a holding. See,
e.g., Falbo v. United States, 320 U.S. 549
(1944); Yakus v. United States, supra; McGee v. United States, 402 U.S. 479 (1971). Because of
the statutes the defendants were on notice that failure to pursue available
administrative relief might result in forfeiture of a defense in an enforcement
proceeding. But here no Ohio statute or ordinance required exhaustion or gave
Mrs. Moore any such warning. Indeed, the Ohio courts entertained all her claims,
perceiving no denigration of state administrative process in according full
[498.6] Euclid held that land-use regulations violate
the Due Process Clause if they are "clearly arbitrary and unreasonable, having
no substantial relation to the public health, safety, morals, or general
welfare." 272 U.S., at 395. See Nectow v.
Cambridge, 277 U.S. 183, 188 (1928). Later cases have emphasized that
the general welfare is not to be narrowly understood; it embraces a broad range
of governmental purposes. See Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26
(1954). But our cases have not departed from the requirement that the
government's chosen means must rationally further some legitimate state
[500.7] It is significant that East Cleveland has another
ordinance specifically addressed to the problem of overcrowding. See United States Dept. of Agriculture v. Moreno, 413 U.S. 528,
536-537 (1973). Section 1351.03 limits population
density directly, tying the maximum permissible occupancy of a dwelling to the
habitable floor area. Even if John, Jr., and his father both remain in Mrs.
Moore's household, the family stays well within these