Townsend v. Swank Alexander
This class action challenges on equal protection and supremacy grounds an Illinois statute and regulation under which needy dependent children 18 through 20 years old attending high school or vocational training school qualify for benefits under the federally assisted Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) program, but such children attending a college or university do not qualify. A three-judge District Court upheld the Illinois scheme. Held: Under § 402(a)(10) of the Social Security Act, a state participating plan under the AFDC program must provide that aid to families with dependent children shall be furnished with reasonable promptness to 'all eligible' individuals. Since § 406(a)(2)(B) of the Act makes dependent 18 20-year-olds eligible for benefits whether attending a college or university or a vocational or technical training course, and Congress has authorized no limitation of eligibility standards within the age group, the Illinois program conflicts with that federal statutory provision and violates the Supremacy Clause. Pp. 285-292.
314 F.Supp. 1082, reversed.
Michael F. Lefkow, Chicago, Ill., for Georgia Townsend.
M. James Spitzer, Jr., New York City, for Loverta Alexander and others pro hac vice, by special leave of Court.
Donald J. Veverka, Chicago, Ill., for appellees.
Mr. Justice BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.