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Moore v. East Cleveland

Sanctity Of The Family, The Dissenting Opinions, Impact


Inez Moore


City of East Cleveland, Ohio

Appellant's Claim

Moore claimed that the city of East Cleveland's housing ordinance, limiting the occupancy of a housing unit to a single family, violated her rights to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by the ordinance's narrow definition of "family."

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

Edward R. Stege, Jr.

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Leonard Young

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr. (writing for the Court), John Paul Stevens

Justices Dissenting

Warren E. Burger, William H. Rehnquist, Potter Stewart, Byron R. White


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

31 May 1977


The Court ruled in favor of Inez Moore, finding that the East Cleveland Housing Ordinance violated her constitutional rights. They determined that the housing ordinance was arbitrary and did not meet the goals of preventing overcrowded housing units, minimizing traffic congestion and parking problems, and reducing the financial burden on the local school system.


While unable to reach a unified opinion, the Court held that the ordinance arbitrarily regulated the family without justifying or satisfying the goals established by the ordinance. The Court determined that the protection of the "sanctity of the family" guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution extended beyond the nuclear family (consisting of a married couple and dependent children) to the extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other family members).

Related Cases

  • Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 116 (1923).
  • Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365 (1926).
  • Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26 (1954).
  • Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497 (1961).
  • Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972).
  • Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972).

Further Readings

  • Biskupic, Joan, and Elder Witt, eds. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1996.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980