Moore v. East Cleveland

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Moore v. City Of East Cleveland, Ohio
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued November 2, 1976
Decided May 31, 1977
Full case name Inez Moore, Appellant, v. City of East Cleveland, Ohio
Citations 431 U.S. 494 (more)
431 U.S. 494 (1977)
The ordinance deprived appellant of her liberty in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Powell, joined by Blackmun
Concurrence Brennan, joined by Marshall
Concurrence Stevens
Dissent Burger
Dissent Stewart, joined by Rehnquist
Dissent White
Laws applied
Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment

Moore v. City of East Cleveland 431 U.S. 494 (1977), is a United States Supreme Court case. The Court held 5-4 that an ordinance which restricted housing to a single family and defined the family as a nuclear family, rather than an extended family, was unconstitutional and a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.


Appellant was a grandmother who was a resident of East Cleveland, Ohio, and owned a home with her son and two grandsons, who were first cousins. The City of East Cleveland created a housing ordinance limiting occupancy of a dwelling unit to members of a single family, in part because of an influx of children from Cleveland seeking the better schools in East Cleveland. The ordinance defined a family as a nuclear family. The appellant was convicted of violating the ordinance and appealed. The City of East Cleveland then argued that the ordinance was constitutional under Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas, 416 U.S. 1 (272 U.S. 365 (1974)), which upheld an ordinance imposing limits on the types of groups that could occupy a single dwelling unit.


The Supreme Court held that the ordinance was a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Court further held that

(a) This case was distinguishable from Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas, because that ordinance only affected unrelated individuals. The ordinance here limits its definition of family to the nuclear family, a relatively new conception.

(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.

(c) The ordinance had a weak relationship to the objectives cited by the city such as avoiding overcrowding, traffic congestion, and an undue financial burden on the school system because a nuclear family could still have a much larger impact on these than a small group of extended family living together.

(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 and that the history and tradition of this Nation compel a larger conception of the family.

Referring case law[edit]

Washington v. Glucksberg, USSC 521 U.S. 702 (1997)

External links[edit]