1 minute read

Moore v. East Cleveland

The Dissenting Opinions

Justices Burger, Rehnquist, Stewart, and White entered dissenting opinions on the case; their opinions did not concur. Chief Justice Burger expressed the opinion that Moore, while certainly having a right to examine the constitutionality of the ordinance, should have sought an administrative resolution to her case before having it brought before the Supreme Court. He indicated that Moore deliberately circumvented the variance clause of the housing ordinance, and, instead, chose to seek relief from a higher court. The housing ordinance made provisions for citizens to directly appeal to the city of East Cleveland for exceptions to the definition of legal housing residents. Burger believed that Moore negated her right to higher appeals by not following the appropriate actions to attempt to resolve her problem locally.

Justice Stewart, entering an opinion on behalf of himself and Rehnquist, suggested that the East Cleveland housing ordinance did not violate the rights protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. The city of East Cleveland was making an honest effort to promote public health, safety, and general welfare through limitations on who and what constituted a single family. Both Stewart and Rehnquist agreed that "extended" family did not equate to the fundamental decisions protected by the U.S. Constitution such as the right to marry, the right to bear and raise children, and the right to provide children with a private education. They determined that the housing ordinance did not interfere with these very basic rights.

Finally, Justice White entered an opinion that the East Cleveland housing ordinance did not violate the Due Process Clause. The ordinance served the very real need of East Cleveland to protect its citizens, and the city had a rational justification for the zoning limitations. He stated that the Court could not and should not interfere with a state or local governmental decision because it appears arbitrary or unreasonable unless there is a "deprivation of life, liberty, or property." His argument was that Moore was supporting two families in a single-family dwelling, and by doing so was in direct violation of a city ordinance. She was not deprived of any freedoms by the ordinance; she could move to another part of the Cleveland metropolitan area and raise the children in a single home without being in violation of any housing ordinance.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Moore v. East Cleveland - Sanctity Of The Family, The Dissenting Opinions, Impact