DAILY TOOL: When an Entire System Results in the Same Injury…

TOOL OF THE DAY: Violation of Due Process

CATEGORY: Family Law

This might be a social security representative payee case but it sheds light on what the rules are when an entire system is depriving individuals of their constitutional rights. This three-panel judge court found that a particular form being used with mental health patients violated the supremacy clause and federal regulations.

Can you think of some procedures used in family court that might violate due process standards? A court protecting children is not per se unlawful, but these procedures being applied to children of divorce or with single parents may be violating due process standards.

An example of how Tidwell views what is a due process violation and constitutional violation can be seen in the following paragraphs taken from the case opinion:

“the use of DMH Form 623 was in conflict with 42 U.S.C. § 407 and, therefore, violated the supremacy clause of the Constitution. The three-judge court also found that the appointment of an Illinois institutional superintendent as arepresentative payee was not per se unlawful, but that the procedures actually used to appoint such a payee violated due process standards. The court ordered specific remedial steps to cure both violations.”

“In addition, whether a patient eventually signed the form (if found competent) or had arepresentative payee appointed (if found incompetent), the entire system resulted in the deprivation of the Social Security benefits of every patient. These undisputed facts, delineated in greater length earlier in this opinion, establish that the plaintiffs in this action, named and unnamed alike, were subject to but a single system which caused all of them the same injury. Standing to challenge this system, in which the State was a knowing and active participant, is not defeated simply because the named plaintiffs did not actually sign Form 623. Every plaintiff was threatened by Form 623 upon entering the facility, every plaintiff was subject to the same system of deprivation, and in the end, every plaintiff suffered the identical harm — deprivation of Social Security benefits. Only the precise means by which the injury was inflicted were different.” ~Tidwell v. Schweiker, 677 F. 2d 560 – Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit 1982